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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Captain defends BAE Systems Barrow sub Astute 'faults' claim

THE CAPTAIN of Barrow’s newest nuclear submarine has defended his boat against claims it had ‘serious faults’ during sea trials and had worried the crew.

The £1.2bn submarine Astute left Barrow for Faslane naval base near Glasgow, Scotland, last November for sea trials.

It returned back to its Scottish base after nearly two weeks of trials.

But an article in the Scottish Daily Record at the weekend reported the sea trials had been “plagued by serious faults.”

One navy insider told the Scottish paper: “There have been problems with Astute. Every time engineers think they have solved one problem, another crops up. This has to be sorted out quickly.”

The paper said another Navy source told it: “The crew are worried about the problems.

“They must be fixed without cutting corners.”

However, Astute’s captain, Commander Andy Coles, has hit back at the claims.

He said: “I am proud of what my crew have achieved as part of Astute’s successful sea trials.

”The initial trials to date have shown the clear potential of this fantastic new platform.

“There has been no major emergency on Astute and there is absolutely no truth in the allegation that there is discontent among my crew.

“The crew and I are full of confidence in Astute and we remain committed to delivering this highly capable submarine in to service with the Royal Navy.”

Naval chiefs have still not taken over formal control of the 7,400 tonne vessel, which is owned by BAE, until trials are substantially achieved and accepted as successful.

Only then will BAE get the final cash payment for its work.

The Royal Navy said in statement: “Astute is currently undergoing an extensive period of sea trials ahead of her acceptance into service.

“Astute is first of class and incorporates cutting edge technology, we would therefore expect these sea trials to identify areas in which further work or development could be required.

“The crew remain highly dedicated and focused on achieving a successful outcome from this period of trials.”

Technicians including commissioning engineers from BAE were aboard for the sea trials.

BAE spokesman Neil Lauderdale in Barrow said: “Astute successfully completed her first dive at sea and has now returned to HMNB Clyde to continue the ongoing scheduled programme of sea trials ahead of her acceptance into service.”

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