LEADING government figures have praised everyone who was instrumental in building Cumbria's latest nuclear-powered submarine, as it leaves the county for the first time.

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, was among the political heavyweights who took to social media to give their backing to workers who helped HMS Audacious set off on her inaugural journey.

Mr Wallace tweeted: “Delighted that SSN HMS Audacious has departed Barrow for her new home at HMNB Clyde. Thank you Barrow workers, Cumbria Police, and BAE. @HMNBClyde”

Meanwhile Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Secretary of State for International Development, tweeted: “Extraordinary engineering and military efforts to build these world class boats. Thank you to everyone @BAES_Maritime and all in the supply chain. @RoyalNavy @AdmTonyRadakin @VAdmNickHine #SubmarineService #Silent #Deterrence.”

HMS Audacious, the fourth of seven Astute-class attack submarines being built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy, set sail from Barrow on Monday.

The submarine was guided into open water for the first time before setting off on her inaugural journey to Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, the home of the UK’s Submarine Service, where she and her 98 crew arrived on Tuesday.

The boat’s departure came days after the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Sir Stephen Lovegrove, thanked the defence industry for its efforts to continue to deliver critical and nationally important defence operations and programmes during the difficult and unprecedented times the country is facing.

HMS Audacious is expected to enter service in spring 2021. The submarine will have provision for up to 38 weapons in six 21-inch torpedo tubes.