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● It wasn’t all sunshine on commissioning day – the Duchess of Rothesay shelters from a shower during proceedings at Faslane

Picture: LA (Phot) Stuart Hill

● The commissioning pennant is raised over HMS Astute during the ceremony at Clyde Naval Base (left)

But it was the iconic timepiece which came to the mind of a senior officer when HMS Astute was commissioned at Clyde Naval Base in front of nearly 400 people. Rear

Simon Lister, Director Submarines, said: “To my mind Astute is a 7,000-tonne watch.

Admiral Swiss

“There is an extraordinary amount of expertise that goes into putting one of these submarines together. “There are stages when it’s like blacksmithing, and there are stages when it’s like brain surgery. “So to see Astute commissioned is momentous not only for the Royal Navy, who have been eagerly anticipating this quantum leap forward in capability, but for the thousands of people around the country who have been involved in the most challenging of engineering projects.” In (mostly) bright sunshine, with the boat tied up alongside 6 Berth, members of Astute’s ship’s company, VIP guests

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, the Lord Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire Rear Admiral Mike Gregory and the Fleet Chaplain – various family and friends watched the ceremony. The commissioning, overseen by the boat’s patron, the Duchess of Rothesay, was a colourful affair, part religious and part military parade, with music from the Royal Marines Band Scotland. Officers sported gold braid and

– including

SWISS watches are not normally black and cigar shaped, and there can’t be many that weigh thousands of tonnes.

Quality is the watchword

Barrow-in-Furness. “I have no doubt the sea trials

have been extremely demanding and that, as ever, you rose to the challenge, performing admirably in what must have been very testing conditions. “You are a great credit

to the Navy and to the country.”

delivering the fighting power of the Royal Navy for decades to come. “A highly-complex feat of naval engineering, she is at

cutting edge of technology, with a suite of sensors and weapons required to pack a powerful punch.”

And submarine CO Cdr Andy Coles said: “I believe that the success of HMS Astute and the spirit which she has generated can be attributed to five factors – a first- class submarine builder supported by exceptional companies, great friends amongst our affiliates, a superb

ship’s company totally

committed to the task ahead, a wonderful submarine ready for the challenges to come and, finally, the support of our families.” The sailors who operate her equally generous in their


praise. WO2(WESM) Kevin Mullen,

the first person to join Astute, said: “It is a huge day for the ship’s company and for Barrow and for the Clyde.

“I joined from a boat that was

silver swords glinted in the sun, while the pristine Astute sported a silver ship’s bell, a nameplate and a crest fitted to her fin. The Duchess – Rothesay is the title used by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall when north of the border – inspected the crew and told them: “I would like to say how proud I am of all you have achieved since I last saw you in

30 years old and the difference is hard to explain.

“Astute is like a big computer that goes underwater.

absolutely fantastic. “The

technology in there

the ship’s company and guests attended a reception at the Warrant


It is is

immense compared with other submarines.” Following

ceremony ● Members of the ship’s company of HMS Astute enjoy their boat’s big day at Clyde Naval Base

Officers and Senior Rates Mess, where the Duchess met sailors, their families and friends. The

commissioning cake

was cut by the Commanding Officer’s wife, Mrs Emma Coles, and the youngest crew member, ET(MESM) Damien Bell. The Duchess presented the

HMS Astute Man of the Boat award 2010 to PO(TSM) Dave McCoy. Awards were also presented by

Astute’s affiliates, the Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers’ to WO2(MESM) Jim Wright

and the Welsh Livery Guild’s to LS(CISSM) Jamie Benson. Astute has now reached a

crucial milestone on the long road to operational handover – having completed a series of challenging sea trials since the end of last year, the 97-metre boat has achieved her In Service Date. That means Astute,


displaces 7,400 tonnes when submerged, has proven her ability to dive, surface and operate across the full range of depth and speed independently, providing a basic level of capability.

Astute is half as big again as her predecessors, the Trafalgar- class Fleet submarines, but is also quieter and has a heavier punch, including Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles. Her reactor is designed to

operate throughout her 25-year lifespan without the need to refuel, and can drive her at speeds in excess of 20 knots when dived. And for those who like to chew

on statistics, her standard crew of 98 will include five chefs who will serve up some 18,000 sausages and 4,200 Weetabix for breakfast on an

Picture: LA (Phot) Stuart Hill

average patrol, though presumably not on the same plate. HMS Astute will now return to sea for further trials before she is declared operational. Over the coming months she will undergo signature measurement and weapon trials before deploying to the American AUTEC underwater test centre in the Bahamas for final testing of systems. Sister boats Ambush, Artful and Audacious are currently under construction by BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness.

the very

capable of contributing across a broad spectrum of maritime operations around the globe, and will play an important role in

Stanhope said: “The Astute class is truly next-generation. “A highly-versatile she is

platform, Admiral Sir Mark

Picture: LA (Phot) AJ MacLeod

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