Britain’s first new hunter-killer submarine in a generation docked in Gibraltar yesterday as it set sail on its first operational mission after two years of sea trials.
The vessel, which has been described as ‘more complex than the space shuttle’, made her maiden call at Gibraltar and will deploy into the Mediterranean and through the Suez Canal.
The Royal Navy has two Astute-class submarines, HMS Astute – the first in the series – and HMS Ambush.
They were built at a cost of more than £1 billion each and are among the most advanced in the world.
The new boats are replacing the Royal Navy’s Trafalgar class submarines – which include HMS Tireless – but the programme has been bedevilled by delays, faults and runaway costs since it began in the mid-1990s.
Naval commanders also faced embarrassment in 2010 when HMS Astute ran aground on rocks off Scotland during sea trials.
The submarine’s arrival was welcomed by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, who went on board yesterday afternoon.