The world’s most advanced submarine was shown off to the world’s largest naval base as she spent four days in Norfolk, Virginia.
HMS Astute hosted a succession of senior British and American senior officers keen to see the progress the cutting-edge nuclear submarine is making during her comprehensive series of trials off the coast of the USA.
Pictures: MC1 Todd Schafer/US Navy
PASSING the cruisers USS Monterey (left) and USS Normandy this is the world’s most advanced submarine entering the world’s biggest naval base.
HMS Astute made her debut at Norfolk Naval Station – roughly 11 times larger than HM Naval Base Portsmouth and home to more than 70 warships – on the latest stage of her comprehensive trials package in the Americas.
The Faslane-based hunter killer boat has already successfully fired Tomahawk missiles on to a range in Florida and is gearing up for key sonar and torpedo trials in the New Year.
With Astute beginning to make her mark on the naval stage, she visited Norfolk Naval Station to fly the flag for the Silent Service and host numerous VIPs from the Royal and US Navies, keen to see the progress the submarine is making.
Indeed, a procession of senior officers filed aboard – among them Britain’s highest-ranking officer across the Pond Vice Admiral Tony Johnstone-Burt (an aviator by trade), and Rear Admiral Ted Branch USN, Deputy Fleet Forces Command, responsible for the US Navy’s Atlantic forces – as did American submariners, staff from the British Embassy in Washington, and Rear Admiral Simon Lister, the RN’s Director Submarines.
And in return, the senior submariner on the Eastern Seaboard, Vice Admiral John Richardson, Commander Submarine Force Atlantic, hosted a reception for the Astutes; he was also given a thorough tour of the 7,400-tonne British boat.
The four days in Virginia also gave the 100-strong crew a brief chance to relax after the demanding autumn trials programme. They were hosted throughout their time in Norfolk by the crew of the USS Albany – one of the Americans’ Los Angeles-class attack boats – and “got on particularly well as submariners in arms”.
With hosting and relaxing done, Astute departed Norfolk and made for King’s Bay in Georgia, home, like Faslane, to nuclear deterrent boats, and serving as a key port for the A-boat as she conducts her ‘first of class’ trials which will make the introduction of her six sisters into service much quicker.
“This deployment of Astute is all about developing and proving her world-class capabilities and she is beginning to prove her real worth. She’s well on her way to taking her place in the operational Fleet,” said Capt Philip Buckley, Captain Faslane Flotilla – and responsible for overseeing Astute’s sea trials.
“That she also has had the opportunity to show off to our US Navy partners further strengthens our long-term relationship, built on our shared operational success, innovation and the constant striving to maintain a hard capability edge.”
After Christmas/New Year leave, Astute is due to head to the specialist AUTEC ranges in the Bahamas where she’ll fire her Spearfish torpedoes and conduct sonar trials.
After that she’ll visit a ‘magnetic silencing facility’ to measure and reduce Astute’s magnetic signature – thus making the stealthy boat even more difficult for potential foes to find.
Once all those trials are complete, she’ll make her way back to the Clyde.