Astute Class Submarine

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The Astute class submarines are the next-generation nuclear fleet submarines of the Royal Navy. When completed, the boats will set a new standard for the Royal Navy in terms of weapons load, improved communications facilities, stealth and comfort for the crew. The boats are being constructed by BAE Systems Submarine Solutions at Barrow-in-Furness. The Royal Navy has changed its submarine-employment strategy from the Cold War emphasis on anti-submarine warfare to the concept of "Maritime Contributions to Joint Operations." Original plans were for seven boats of the Astute class to replace five Swiftsure-class submarines (Sovereign, Superb, Sceptre, Spartan, and Splendid) and the two oldest Trafalgar-class boats (Trafalgar and Turbulent). The Swiftsure-class entered service between 1973 and 1977 and will be entirely decommissioned by 2010, when only the first of the Astute-class will be coming into service. HMS Trafalgar is due to be decommissioned in 2009, followed by HMS Turbulent in 2011. Astute-class boats are powered by a Rolls-Royce PWR2 (Core H) reactor and fitted with a pump-jet propulsor. The PWR2 reactor was developed for Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines. As a result Astute-class boats are about 30 per cent larger than previous British attack submarines, which were powered by smaller reactors. It is the first Royal Navy submarine class to have a bunk for each member of the ship's company, ending the practice of 'hot bunking', whereby two sailors on opposite watches shared the same bunk. Like all Royal Navy submarines, the bridge fin of the Astute-class boats is specially reinforced to allow surfacing through ice caps. They can fire Tomahawk cruise missiles from their launch tubes, including the new "tactical Tomahawk" currently under development. More than 39,000 acoustic tiles mask the vessel's sonar signature, giving the Astute class a better stealth quality than any other submarine previously operated by the Royal Navy. The vessel is equipped with the advanced 2076 Sonar System, which is capable of identifying and tracking vessels across thousands of square miles of ocean. First-of-class HMS Astute was launched by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall on 8 June 2007. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]







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