Slow moving Ambush

The 235 tonne forward section of Ambush, the second of the Astute class submarines being built by BAE Systems in Barrow in Furness, recently took to the road.

The 235 tonne forward section of Ambush, the second of the Astute class submarines being built by BAE Systems in Barrow in Furness, north westEngland took to the road last Thursday, 11 May.

The steel construction, which is the height of a four-storey house, was carried on a 48-wheeled Scheurerle transporter on the quarter of a mile journey from the Barrow site’s new assembly facility to the Devonshire Dock Hall where the hull of the 7,800 tonne first of class Astute nuclear-powered attack submarine is already complete.

The forward end construction will join seven other sections of Ambush already being fitted out in the Devonshire Dock Hall, the largest shipbuilding complex of its kind in Europe. Covering an area of 25,000 square metres, the hall is 51 metres high.

According to BAE Systems, Astute-class submarines will be the most advanced and powerful the Royal Navy has ever operated and will play a key role in the UK’s defences for decades to come. They form part of a substantial modernisation programme, as outlined in the Government’s Defence Industrial Strategy, that will enhance the capability of the UK’s Royal Navy through its emphasis on fewer but more capable platforms.

The project is one of the most complex engineering challenges in the UK, involving the production of over 7,000 design drawings, 10,000 separate design and engineering requirements and the installation of 23,000 pipes. Each boat has a sonar suite which has the processing power of 200,000 laptop computers.

Once deployed, Astute class submarines are designed not to require refuelling throughout their service life – over 25 years – and can patrol for 90 days, remaining undetected thousands of miles from home and hundreds of metres underwater.

The pressure hull is a 97 metre long cylinder which, when submerged, must withstand pressure equivalent to 400 family saloon cars weighing down on every square metre of surface area.

The first Astute-class submarine is due to be launched in Summer 2007, and will be handed over to the UK Royal Navy in August 2008.