The UK Royal Navy's new HMS Audacious Astute-class nuclear-powered fleet submarine (SSN) has been launched at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, North West England.
HMS Audacious is the fourth of seven Astute-class submarines being constructed by BAE for the Royal Navy.
The 7,400t, 97m-long vessel emerged from the Devonshire Dock Hall and was lowered into the water for the first time during the launch ceremony.
Audacious will now enter into the next phase of its test and commissioning programme before beginning sea trials next year.
Naval Staff Submarines assistant chief rear admiral John Weale said: “It’s an exciting moment to see HMS Audacious enter the water for the first time ahead of trials. Such a feat of engineering is a testament to the skills of the BAE Systems workforce in Barrow.
“As part of an increasingly capable Royal Navy, HMS Audacious will go on to serve on operations right around the world, helping keep Britain safe.”
Astute-class vessels are the most advanced submarines ever developed for use by the Royal Navy, and are equipped with Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk land attack missiles.
The submarines are integrated with sonar capability and powered by a nuclear reactor, and are also capable of accurately hitting targets at ranges of up to 1,000km from the coast.
The first three vessels in the class, HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful, are currently in service with the Royal Navy, while the final three are at various stages of construction at BAE Systems’ Barrow site.
HMS Artful was officially commissioned into service at HM Naval Base Clyde in March last year, representing the third Astute-class vessel designated for use by the Royal Navy
Image: The UK Royal Navy’s Astute-class submarine, HMS Audacious, launches at Barrow-in-Furness. Photo: courtesy of Royal Navy.