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It was otherwise an unremarkable Thursday, save for Barack Obama meeting the Dalai Lama.


her (if you squint hard enough through the gloom) this is a £1bn warship disappearing beneath the waves for the very fi rst time.

But somewhere off the west coast of With snow-laden hills behind

THE date is February 18 2010.

Make a note of it in your diary.

home port of Faslane in mid-February for several weeks of trials. The boat’s inaugural passage from Barrow to the Clyde last November was entirely on the surface and less than pleasant; she endured Force 8 gales for a time.

New hunter-killer boat HMS Astute made her inaugural dive in open waters in the Scottish Exercise Areas (which are basically anywhere off the west coast…), chaperoned by HMS Montrose.

Luckily, the gods were more forgiving this time around. Two days after departing Faslane, the boat passed that major milestone by completing her fi rst, rather gentle dive. r

Astute has submerged before – conducting a ‘trim and basin dive’ in the deep basin at the BAE yard in Barrow- in-Furness.

Deep though that basin is, it cannot accommodate a fully-submerged 7,400- ton Astute class boat. Luckily, the waters of western Scotland are more accommodating. So with Commander Offi cer Cdr Andy Coles in charge, Astute left her

“The crew worked very hard in the build-up to sailing, undergoing a period of safety training to conduct some surfaced trials in preparation for the dive.

“The fi st dive went very well and the ship’s company were very professional, ensuring that the dive was planned and executed safely,” said Cdr Coles.

boat’s capable of.” We cannot, of course, tell you how deep she dived during these fi rst test runs. But we can tell you that (a) it wasn’t especially deep (as faster and deeper dive trials are planned) and (b) she came back to the surface again (which, as any submariner will tell you, is the most important thing...). The fi rst dive was part of a package of tests lined up for the fl eet submarine on her ‘contractor’s sea trials’. As the name of the trials suggests, the boat is still offi cially in the hands of her builders, BAE Systems.

And so a sizeable number of BAE personnel and the submarine project team from Abbey Wood were aboard for the inaugural ‘dip’.

“Astute is a great submarine and I’m delighted that we’ve successfully completed this major objective.” AB(TSM) Ricky Snowling added: “This dive was a big milestone for the Astute project and it was also an exciting demonstration of what the

Meanwhile on the surface... Astute’s initial trials were observed and monitored by HMS Montrose… whose job it is to hunt and, er, kill hunter-killers (enemy ones rather than our own, of course).

During a break in the trials, a boat transfer ferried some Montrose sailors across to the submarine. Among the passengers, one Lt Julia Taylor, the frigate’s deputy logistics officer. She was helped aboard the boat by

one Lt Scott Taylor, Astute’s casing officer... permitting a

husband and wife. Sadly, it was all too brief for the Taylors; the Astute had to continue trials... as did Montrose.

The Type 23 frigate is herself undergoing some thorough tests and trials after emerging from a multi-million-pound refi t in Rosyth last autumn.

With the first dive trials a success, Astute returned briefly

sailing back to sea to resume her lengthy test package.

to Faslane before

Those tests cover propulsion and manoeuvring trials, before moving on to weapons systems, which will see the nuclear boat try out her Sonar 2076 suite and eventually fi re some of her weaponry.

reunion for

■ MEANWHILE in Barrow, Astute’s younger sister played host to the person who will keep a keener eye than most on the progress of HMS Ambush throughout her career.

Lady Soar, the wife of Commander- in-Chief Fleet (and former submariner) Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, will formally launch Ambush when the boat emerges from the huge Devonshire Dock Hall at BAE’s Barrow yard later this year.

folding at pr

This time she was accompanied by HMS Dauntless, undergoing a demanding work-up of her own in the Firth of Clyde. It’s the second time in a month the

Type 45’s been in company with £1bn of naval hardware; earlier this year, she sailed with her sister Daring for exercises off the South Coast.

the progress made on her boat, before taking her on a two-hour tour. After that there was the chance to sit down and chat with the deeps who will one day take Ambush to sea. “I have always found that it’s the people who bring a ship or submarine alive,” said Lady Soar. “I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the many personalities who are clearly working so hard and with such enthusiasm to make Ambush a success.”

Ambush is still surrounded by scaffolding at present, so Commanding Officer Cdr Peter Green and BAE managing director John Hudson gave Lady Soar a run-down on Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56
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