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First successful dive for new nuclear submarine HMS Artful during trials in Cumbria
7 October 2014

The third of Britain’s new hunter-killer submarines has (mostly) disappeared beneath the water for the first time during a test in Barrow.

HMS Artful spent seven hours submerged in an enormous dive basin at the BAE Systems yard, where naval architects took key measurements to ensure the £1bn boat will perform as expected when she begins her patrols.

Pictures: BAE System

THIS is the third of the Royal Navy’s new hunter-killer submarines disappearing beneath the water for the first time as HMS Artful conducted her maiden dive.

The £1bn attack submarine was submerged during two-day trial in Barrow – which will determine how the boat performs underwater during a career lasting more than a quarter of a century.

There were 22 submariners and around 60 engineers, technicians and experts aboard the 8,500-tonne stealth boat – the third of the RN’s class of seven Astute-class submarines – for the test dive in Ramsden Dock at BAE’s yard in Cumbria.

The dock features a giant chasm or ‘dive hole’ – long and wide enough to accommodate a Royal Navy nuclear submarine, although at 25 metres (82ft) deep it’s can’t cover an A-class boat completely.

As Artful gently submerged, four trollies collectively carrying 16 tonnes of lead weights were moved around the vessel so naval architects could confirm the stability of the 97-metre submarine at sea – an exercise known as a trim and incline test.

Data was gathered measuring the hydrodynamics and weight profile of the boat which will now be assessed minutely to see how she will perform once in the Fleet.

At the same time, the dive proved that the most advanced nuclear submarine on the planet could safely descend, then come back to the surface – the key requisite of any boat. In all, Artful spent seven hours submerged.

The initial feedback from the two-day dive was that it was a complete success and will allow the BAE-Artful team to push ahead with the remainder of her testing and commissioning programme. 

“It was exiting and rewarding to be the first person to dive HMS Artful – it’s a significant milestone towards her joining the Fleet,” said Cdr Scott Bower, Artful’s Commanding Officer.

“There is a real sense of expectancy surrounding the boat now as she moves ever closer to exit Barrow and sea trials.”

She is due to leave Barrow next year to begin sea trials before sailing for her new home to join the already-operational HMS Astute and Ambush, both of which have completed their first patrols on the front line.