The Ministry of Defence have confirmed that the jinxed submarine the HMS Astute has successfully fired its first missile during a test which took place under the sun in the Gulf of Mexico. The HMS Astute is a nuclear powered submarine in the Royal Navy and is the lead ship of her class built by BAE systems.
A spokeswomen confirmed that the submarine fired Tomahawk missiles at up to 550 miles per hour, each missile measuring 5.5-metres in length, weighing 1,300kg and has a range of 1,000 miles.
It has been described as ‘the largest and most able attack submarine that the Royal Navy has operated in its history, with performance to rival any in the world’. However, this has not stopped it from acquiring the jinxed label.
The successful test of the missile comes under a year from when a crew member lost their life in what was called a shooting accident while the submarine was still in dock at Southampton. Before this, the boat ran aground off the Isle of Skye during the Autumn last year.
With the past accidents in mind, the submarine’s Commanding Officer, Commander Iain Breckenridge could not have been happier with the launch saying that ‘it showed that it is a truly capable submarine and that it will function as the UK’s strike capability for the future’.
The Gulf of Mexico has been chosen as the area where the submarine will go through its first test run of her system. In comparison to the rest of the Royal Navy’s attack submarines, Astute has the largest weapon-carrying capacity and at any one time can hold up to 38 Tomahawk missiles and Spearfish torpedoes.
The USA supplies the UK with the Tomahawk technology with no other country given access to the missiles. They have been in operation for more than 10-years and have been launched from submarines to support military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
Built for modern operations
Compared to its successor the Trafalgar Class which is being phased out of service, the Astute Class of submarines has the cutting edge of technology and are the most advanced submarines to serve with the Royal Navy.
The difference with this class of submarine is that they have been built for the purpose of modern operations, as such they are different in size, capacity and capability when compared to its predecessors which were built for a totally different world.
“The most noticeable difference for the ship’s company is that for the first time everyone has their own bunk,” said Commander Breckenridge.