The UK Royal Navy’s fourth Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine has been formally christened as Audacious, during a ceremony held at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, UK.

As the prime contractor, BAE Systems is tasked to design, build, test and commission the Royal Navy’s seven Astute-class submarines.

UK Defence Procurement Minister Harriett Baldwin said: “HMS Audacious is the fourth in our fleet of Astute-class submarines, the largest and most advanced attack submarines in service with the Royal Navy, already providing unprecedented levels of stealth and attack capability across the world.

"Barrow will remain the hub of our submarine building programmes for years to come."

“Backed by a rising defence budget and a £178bn equipment plan, Barrow will remain the hub of our submarine building programmes for years to come.”

BAE Systems will now carry out final work on the submarine in the Devonshire Dock Hall in Barrow before launching the vessel next year for testing and commissioning of its systems.

The 97m-long vessels have a displacement capacity of 7,400t and are 50% bigger than the Trafalgar-class submarines.

Capable of operating covertly and remaining undetected under almost all circumstances, the Astute boats will eventually replace the existing Trafalgar-class submarines.

Incorporated with the latest nuclear-powered technology, the submarines have the capability to circumnavigate the world while being submerged and be able to produce oxygen from seawater.

The fifth and sixth Astute-class submarines, Anson and Agamemnon, and the un-named seventh vessel are currently at different stages of construction at BAE’s shipyard.

BAE Systems has also been appointed as the industrial lead for the Royal Navy’s next-generation of Dreadnought-class nuclear deterrent submarines programme.

Image: The UK Royal Navy's Astute-class submarine, Audacious, during its christening ceremony. Photo: © Crown copyright.