Artful is the third of seven highly-sophisticated Astute class submarines being built by the Company for the UK Royal Navy. The remaining four are under construction at its site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
The 7,400 tonne nuclear-powered attack submarine is undergoing final preparations before leaving for its operational base at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, in Faslane, Scotland. From there, it will undergo sea trials, when its full range of capabilities will be tested under the control of its Commanding Officer, Commander Scott Bower. Artful’s sister submarines, HMS Astute and HMS Ambush, are already operating out of Faslane.
Mr Fallon, who visited BAE Systems’ giant build hall in which final assembly of each 97m-long submarine takes place, said: "The Astute submarine programme is a key part of our £163bn plan to ensure that our armed forces have the equipment they need.
"Artful will now join Ambush and Astute, helping to keep Britain safe. The next four boats are already under construction, securing thousands of jobs and showing our commitment to increase defence spending each year for the rest of the decade."
BAE Systems, which now employs more than 7,000 people at its Submarines facility, is responsible for designing, building, testing and commissioning the Astute class – the most capable attack submarines ever built for the UK Royal Navy. Each submarine packs a range of world class technologies and is armed with Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk land attack missiles.
Tony Johns, Managing Director of BAE Systems Submarines, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Secretary of State to BAE Systems and to accompany him on a tour of Artful and our world-class submarine building facilities.
“The design and build of a nuclear powered submarine is the pinnacle of technology, engineering and manufacturing excellence. It is a hugely complex programme of enormous national significance.
“When Artful was launched it was done so in a more advanced state of build than any other submarine we’ve built, so it was a proud moment to be able showcase the progress we are making across the Astute programme and we will continue to look for ways of improving our efficiency and effectiveness.
“Today’s visit is recognition of the hard work by everyone at BAE Systems, our submarine partners, the Royal Navy crew and the hundreds of businesses in our supply chain network.
This is an exciting time for BAE Systems in Barrow. As well as Astute, the Company is undertaking £300m-plus of facilities investment in readiness for the start of construction on Successor – the programme to replace the current fleet of Vanguard submarines, which carry the UK’s strategic national deterrent.
BAE Systems is leading the design phase of this programme and has more than 1,500 people currently working on it.