Saturday, May 31, 2014

UK Launches Third Astute Class Submarine

Artful, the third of the Astute class of nuclear attack submarines, has been launched and is expected to be commissioned in 2015. The previous two submarines, Astute and Ambush, were commissioned in 2010 and 2013 respectively.

The Royal Navy will have a total of seven Astute class submarines. The remaining four, Audacious, Anson, Agamemnon and Ajax, are expected to be commissioned between 2018 and 2024.

The Astute class submarines will join the Trafalgar class submarines, seven of which were commissioned between 1983 and 1991. Of these two have already been decommissioned, with one more expected this year in 2014.

The introduction of these new nuclear submarines are part of the Royal Navy's comprehensive modernization program that is now ongoing. Besides nuclear attack submarines, preliminary efforts at eventually replacing the four Vanguard class nuclear ballistic missile submarines in service have started.

The surface fleet has also seen changes. Six Type 45 destroyers have already been build to replace the Type 42 and all were commissioned between 2009 and 2013. All the Type 42 destroyers are now out of service.

Also currently being build are two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, of which at least one and possibly two will enter service after 2020. Shortly afterward, the first of the Type 26 frigates should come online and they will begin replacing the 13 Type 23 frigates that are now in the Royal Navy.

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