The keel laying ceremony for the fifth hunter-killer Astute class submarine 'Anson' was laid today at BAE Systems in Barrow-In-Furness, by the Minister for International Security Strategy, Gerald Howarth MP.
Today's ceremony marked the transition of the submarine's construction from fabrication of the pressure hull units to full construction within Devonshire Dock Hall (DDH). BAE Systems' workforce and more than 100 guests gathered in the giant DDH to witness Mr Howarth unveil the 190-tonne unit, measuring 11 metres high and wide and 7 metres long.
The unit unveiled today will house the manoeuvring room module, which is the control centre for the propulsion plant, and the diesel generator module, which provides crucial back-up for the boat's electrical systems. Together they effectively form the electrical pulse of the submarine and the unit is one of the most sophisticated and heavily outfitted of all the units.
BAE Systems is the lead contractor for the Astute Class submarine programme, and Anson is the fifth of seven new attack submarines to be built for the UK Royal Navy. At 97m long and weighing approximately 7,400 tonnes, these state-of-the-art submarines are equipped with cutting edge technology, including a nuclear reactor capable of powering the submarine for its entire 25-year life, without the need to refuel.
John Hudson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, said: "The keel laying is the first major milestone for any shipbuilding project. It is the maritime equivalent of setting the foundations of a building and is every bit as important with regard to the long term safety and performance of the vessel. Today we embrace that tradition, but with a modern twist. Anson's keel is being laid vertically to enable more cost effective submarine production. It will be safer and easier for our engineers to install material and equipment into the hull in this orientation. This shows our commitment to value, but also to challenge our traditions, and to adopt better ways of working wherever possible."
BAE Systems' submarine programme involves an extensive supply chain network, with more than GBP4.4bn spent across the UK since 2000. It also supports thousands of jobs, both directly and indirectly, with 80 per cent of all manufacturing positions in Barrow-in-Furness provided by BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, who employ approximately 5,000 people.
Anson will be the eighth Royal Navy vessel to bear the name HMS Anson, which commemorates Admiral of the Fleet George Anson (1697-1762), noted for his role in overseeing the Royal Navy during the Seven Years' War and for circumnavigating the globe. This makes the name particularly appropriate to an Astute class submarine, which can circumnavigate the globe without surfacing in considerably less time than it took Admiral Anson.
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