THE latest in a string of nuclear-powered attack submarines was launched into the dock at Barrow shipyard over the weekend.

Artful, a 97m long, 7,400 tonne state-of-the-art submarine began edging out of BAE Systems’ giant construction hall on Friday and was carefully lowered into the water on Saturday.

Artful, the third of seven highly-complex Astute class submarines designed and built for the UK Royal Navy, will now begin the next phase of its test and commissioning process ahead of sea trials next year.

Stuart Godden, Astute Programme Director for BAE Systems, said: “The launch of Artful is another significant step forward in the Astute programme.


“Building on past experiences we’ve been able to launch her in the most advanced state of construction of any submarine to be built in Barrow. This allows us to now fully concentrate on the test and commissioning activities required to get her to sea.

“Moving a submarine of this size from its build hall to the water is very challenging. It’s testament to the experience and careful planning of the team involved that Artful is now ready for the next phase in her programme.

“Witnessing a submarine move out of the hall and be readied for launch is truly inspiring and a source of great pride to the thousands who have played a part in getting Artful to this stage.”

Artful will now undergo a series of complex tests to prove the safety and operability of its systems before it departs BAE Systems’ site for sea trials.

The Ministry of Defence’s Director Submarines, Rear Admiral Mike Wareham, said:

“The Astute programme is making real progress and the sight of the third submarine afloat in the water is a reflection of the hard work of both the MOD and industry.

“The launch of this submarine brings it a step closer to entering into service where it will provide a key capability for the Royal Navy and an essential component of the Submarine Service into the future.”

BAE Systems, the prime contractor in the Astute programme, is the UK's only designer and builder of nuclear powered submarines - one of the most complex engineering programmes in the world today.

The first two submarines in the Astute class – HMS Astute and HMS Ambush – have now been handed over to the UK Royal Navy, while the remaining five are in various stages of construction.