HMS Artful, the third of seven new nuclear attack submarines destined for the Royal Navy, has started sea trials, the boat’s builder, BAE Systems Submarines, said on Aug 13.
The Astute-class submarine emerged from the dock at BAE’s Barrow-in-Furness yard for its first sea trials ahead of joining sister boats Astute and Ambush, already in service with the Royal Navy. Subject to the outcome of the trials, the Artful, which cost more than £1 billion (US $1.56 billion), is expected to be commissioned around the end of the year.
Armed with Tomahawk land attack missiles and Spearfish torpedoes, the 7,400-ton Astute-class subs are replacing Swiftsure- and Trafalgar-class boats in Royal Navy service. The four remaining boats in the expected seven-strong fleet are in various stages of construction.
HMS Audacious is the next submarine set to be completed at the BAE yard, which is also gearing up to build Britain’s next generation of ballistic missile submarines, with the first metal cut planned for 2016. BAE expects to launch Audacious in the fourth quarter of 2016 and the submarine is scheduled to exit the yard the following year.