BAE Systems rolls out Royal Navy’s 5th Astute-class submarine HMS Anson

HMS Anson
Photo courtesy of BAE System

HMS Anson was rolled out of her home for the past decade before being lowered into the water at BAE’s yard in Barrow during a delicate two-day operation, the Royal Navy announced. The 7,400-tonne nuclear-powered submarine, officially named at a ceremony in December, emerged from the Devonshire Dock Hall and entered the water for the first time on April 20. 

The press release issued by the Royal Navy, as follows;

The fifth of the Silent Service’s Astute-class submarines, HMS Anson, sit in the water as she enters the final stages of construction and commissioning. HMS Anson was rolled out of her home for the past decade before being lowered into the water at BAE’s yard in Barrow during a delicate two-day operation.

Now she’s conducting final testing and commissioning of systems, preparing for her first dive – submerging most of the boat in a special dry dock – ahead of leaving Cumbria next year and joining her four sisters in Faslane.

HMS Anson’s crew are key to all these tests, having been increasingly involved in the construction and fitting out the process of their boat, which was formally named by her sponsor Julie Weale just before Christmas.

The final stages of the boat’s completion were complicated by the pandemic, which placed particular challenges and demands on the complex operation to lower the hunter-killer into the water.

After thorough testing and commissioning of some 40 critical systems, the crew are responsible for the boat’s watertight integrity during her time in Barrow as well as general safety aboard.

On board HMS Anson, BAE staff joined submariners, led by the boat’s first commanding officer Commander David ‘Bing’ Crosby, operating critical positions, such as running the diesel engines for power, changing the ventilation states, and bringing air into the ballast tanks for buoyancy.

Everyone aboard – service and civilian – has to comply with Covid regulations which meant wearing sealable facemasks.

“The roll out itself from the dock hall is a slow and delicate operation, checking that the cradles and submarine hull are not subject to stress as the boat is rolled over the transitions on to the ship-lift,” explained Commander Crosby.

“Lowering the ship-lift also takes time, with the Naval architects ensuring that all the tanks have the correct contents, so the boat maintains the correct trim as she floats. As she is lowered the ship’s staff are conducting rounds, leak checks and looking for floods.”

Once afloat, the boat was ‘cold moved’ to Wet Dock Quay with the assistance of tugs for training leading to the next milestone, the trim dive.

“I am extremely encouraged by the strong relationships my team and the RN are maintaining with the BAE build team and their contracted support; these teams will ensure HMS Anson leave Barrow in 2022 set well for sea trials ahead of what will be a long and successful operational life.

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BAE Systems’ Devonshire dock hall, where Astute-class submarines are built.

About HMS Anson (S-123):

HMS Anson is the fifth Astute-class nuclear-powered fleet submarine of the Royal Navy. She will be the eighth vessel of the Royal Navy to bear the name, after Admiral George Anson.

On 25 March 2010, BAE Systems were given the go-ahead by the government to begin construction on boats 5 and 6 (Anson and Agamemnon), being given a £300 million contract for the “initial build” of boat 5 and “long lead procurement activities” for boat 6. Later that year work was begun on the pressure hull and reactor compartments.

The Astute class has stowage for 38 weapons and would typically carry a mix of Spearfish heavy torpedoes and Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles, the latter costing £870,000 each. The Tomahawk missiles are capable of hitting a target to within a few metres, to a range of 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres). The Astute Combat Management System is a new version of the Submarine Command System used on other classes of British submarine. The system receives data from the boat’s sensors and displays the results on command consoles. The submarines also have Atlas Hydrographic DESO 25 high-precision echosounders, two CM010 non-hull-penetrating optronic masts—in place of conventional periscopes—which carry thermal imaging and low-light TV and colour CCD TV sensors. The class also mounts a Successor IFF system.

For detecting enemy ships and submarines, the Astute class is equipped with the sophisticated Sonar 2076, an integrated passive/active search and attack sonar suite with bow, intercept, flank and towed arrays. BAE claims that the 2076 is the world’s best sonar system. All of the Astute-class submarines will be fitted with the advanced Common Combat System.

Check out Naval Library App to find out the specifications of the Astute Class Submarines.

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