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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Astute comissioning date put back

THE commissioning date of Barrow’s newest submarine has been put back by three months to allow sea trials to continue.

Astute, which was delivered to the Faslane naval base in Scotland in November, was originally earmarked to be commissioned into the navy in a ceremony at Faslane at the end of January.

But a spokesman for the base said the commissioning date had “moved to the right considerably” and was now not expected to take place until April at the earliest. He said Astute - which technically still belongs to BAE Systems Submarine Solutions until the Ministry of Defence agrees to take it over - is getting on with sea trials.

The boat has to complete up to 18 months of trials before it becomes operational. The boat’s patron, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, is expected to be at the commissioning. The £1.2bn nuclear powered hunter/killer class submarine left Barrow with a partial rudder to avoid the danger of the deep draught device colliding with any mudbanks. The remainder of the rudder has since been fitted at Faslane, said the spokesman.

The second Astute class submarine, Ambush, is at an advanced stage inside the Devonshire Dock Hall, and is expected to be rolled out and launched next year.

BAE has not announced any date yet but it could be towards the end of the year. The Ministry of Defence is still deciding whether to slow down the build rate for the Astute class, which is designed to hunt and destroy enemy vessels, to save money.

A submarine expert in Barrow who did not wish to be named said: “I am surprised it was going to be commissioned in January, that sounds much too early. “The boat has only just gone up there and they have got a lot of sea trials to do. April sounds far more sensible.”

The submarine is crewed by Royal Navy personnel and BAE technicians and test engineers from Barrow.
The sub left Barrow on November 15 and was waved off by a crowd of well wishers lining Roa Island. (Original News)
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