HMS Astute grounded off Isle of Skye

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HMS Astute, the first of the Royal Navy’s new nuclear-powered attack class submarines, has reportedly been grounded off the Isle of Skye.

The Ministry of Defence said in a statement: ‘We are aware of an incident involving one of our submarines off the Isle of Skye. This is not a nuclear incident.

‘We are responding to the incident and can confirm that there are no injuries to personnel and the submarine remains watertight. There is no indication of any environmental impact.’

HMS Astute is the first Astute class submarine in a £2bn programme to replace Swiftsure Class subs.

Covered in acoustic panels to mask its sonar signature, Astute is said to have enhanced capability to operate in littoral waters. Its tasks include intelligence gathering plus Special Forces and anti-submarine warfare.

Equipped with Spearfish torpedoes, Tomahawk cruise missiles and what is claimed to be the world’s most advanced sonar system, HMS Astute and her sister boats – Ambush, Artful and Audacious – will be the most powerful nuclear attack submarines built for the Royal Navy.

In November 2009 the vessel left prime contractor BAE Systems’ shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness for its base at HMNB Clyde at Faslane.

In March this year BAE Systems said HMS Astute had successfully completed its first phase of sea trials and that sea trials were ongoing.

Various reports today suggest she was undergoing sea trials when the grounding occurred.

Engineers hope that the Astute project will provide valuable lessons for the sub that will carry the UK’s Trident deterrent. Click here to read more (subscription required).