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UK orders new nuclear attack submarine for Royal Navy - MoD

RIA Novosti

21/05/2007 21:32 LONDON, May 21 (RIA Novosti) - Britain's Ministry of Defense said Monday it had placed an order for the construction of a new nuclear-powered attack submarine with a UK-based company.

The submarine, to be named HMS Audacious, is the fourth of the Astute class, the largest and most powerful generation of nuclear boats designed for the Royal Navy. The 7,800-ton submarine will be built by BAE Systems at estimated cost of 200 million British pounds (about $395 million).

"We need a versatile maritime force across the operational spectrum," the MoD statement quoted First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathon Band as saying. "These boats will help protect Britain's interests overseas for decades to come."

The statement also quoted Lord Drayson, Minister for Defense Equipment and Support, as saying: "Today's announcement demonstrates our commitment to the attack submarine program, as set out in the Defense Industrial Strategy."

Under the program, the Ministry of Defense signed in March 1997 a contract worth 2 billon British pounds (over $3.9 billion) with GEC-Marconi Limited for the first three submarines - Astute, Ambush, and Artful - to replace the aging fleet of the Swiftsure-class and the Trafalgar-class nuclear boats.

With a length of 97 meters and crew of 100, the Astute-class attack submarine carries 38 Spearfish torpedoes, UGM-84 Harpoon and Tomahawk Block III cruise missiles.

According to MoD, the first of the Astute-class submarines, HMS Astute, will be launched next month, while the assembly of HMS Audacious is expected to start later this year.

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