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UK Navy nuke submarine getting ready for sea trials


The new Astute-class nuclear submarine, Ambush. A UK Navy photo

LONDON (BNS): British Royal Navy's second Astute-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, Ambush, is getting ready to begin sea trials in the Irish Sea in the coming days.

The latest 'hunter-killer' submarine to join the Royal Navy will leave the BAE Systems shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, where she was built, and sail to Clyde naval base in Scotland.

Once at sea, Ambush will conduct basic trials before making for her debut at her home port for the next quarter of a century, Faslane, the Navy said.

BAE Systems, which has been contracted to build seven Astute-class submarines, had launched HMS Ambush in January 2011.

The Astute class subs, designed to replace the Swiftsure and Trafalgar class submarines of the UK Navy, are larger in size and require fewer crew to operate them. With a water displacement capacity of 7,400 tonnes, each sub incorporates advanced stealth technology along with world class sonar system, greater firepower and latest communication systems.

The submarines also feature the latest nuclear-powered technology, which means they never need to be refuelled and can circumnavigate the world submerged, manufacturing the crew's oxygen from seawater as they go.

Each Astute submarine is 318 feet long and could carry a combination of up to 38 Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles. The submarine can cruise at speeds in excess 20 knots while dived, the top speed, though, is classified, but it is faster than when the vessel is on the surface.

The new-class naval vessels are designed to carry out a range of key strategic and tactical roles, including anti-ship and anti-submarine operations, surveillance and intelligence gathering and support for land forces.

"Ambush and her sisters are the most powerful and advanced attack submarines ever ordered for the Royal Navy; they are needed by the fleet and they will play a vital role in the future defence of the UK," Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne said after viewing the submarine at the BAE shipyard.

The first submarine of the class, HMS Astute, has been commissioned in the Royal Navy and completed extensive sonar and weapon trials in the US, climaxing with the firing of Tomahawk missiles. The vessel is currently undergoing maintenance alongside in Faslane, the Navy said.

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