A piece of a nuclear submarine found drivers in the UK rubbernecking while creating its own traffic nightmares.
Sorry I was late boss, but you see there was this 1,000 ton submarine assembly moving through town
This definitely falls under the category of, “Now there is something you don’t see every day.”
Residents of Barrow-in-Furness or more commonly Barrow, were treated to just that sight on Sunday in the small city and seaport located in the county of Cumbria in England.
The 57,000 residents of Barrow on the tip of the Furness peninsula certainly know that their town is a massive shipbuilding site but 10,000 tons is a little out of the ordinary. It’s the largest piece of ship ever moved through town by a great measure. Barrow’s location and ready availability of steel made the city become a major producer of naval vessels with a specialty in submarines. Barrow has produced the vast majority of the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines.
Barrow is home to BAE Systems whose shipyard is the largest shipyard in the UK by workforce.
Barrow and the Astute-class submarine
The unit was moved through town from the New Assembly Shop in Bridge Road, Barrow to the indoor shipping complex at Devonshire Dock hall.
The pieces will be used in one of the Astute class nuclear submarines that BAE Systems is under contract to produce. The HMS Astute and HMS Ambush are already in service. Four additional Astute-class submarines are presently being constructed at Barrow: Audacious, Agamemnon, Anson, and an as-yet-unnamed submarine.
BAE Systems was awarded, not surprisingly, a fifth submarine last month. The manufacture of the submarine that was moved through Barrow started in 2010 and the HMS Anson is expected to begin sea trials in 2020.
Astute-class submarines are “hunter-killers”
Astute-class boats are powered by a Rolls-Royce PWR2 reactor with a pump-jet propulsor. That Core H reactor was first developed for the Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarine that constitutes the entirety of the UK’s nuclear arsenal with no less than one nuclear submarine on patrol at all times. They are equipped with 16 Trident missiles that can share up to 48 nuclear warheads.
With all that power available, the Astute-class submarines are about 30% larger than past hunter-killers in the British fleet with smaller diameter reactors. The subs are equipped with a a bridge fin for breaking through ice caps and can also be fitted with a dry deck shelter for the deployment of special forces when it is submerged. Nearly 40,000 acoustic tiles give the Astute-class more stealth than any other in the Royal Navy.
The press has gone so far as to suggest that the Astute-class sub “makes less noise than a baby dolphin, making her as good as undetectable by enemy ships.”
The offensive and defensive capabilities of the submarine are quite impressive. It has room for 38 weapons, a mix of Spearfish torpedoes capable of striking both submarines and surface vessels as well as Tomahawk missiles. The present version of the Tomahawk is capable of striking targets to within a couple of meters from as far away as 1,240 miles.
In order to track its targets the Astute-class subs are fitted with the Thales Underwater Systems Sonar 2076 which combines active and passive search and may be the world’s most advance sonar system.
In war games with the U.S. Navy’s newest Virginia-class submarine the USS New Mexico it was widely reported that the United States sailors with surprised with the capabilities of the Astute-class sub.
Royal Navy Commander Iain Breckenridge was quoted saying: “Our sonar is fantastic and I have never before experienced holding a submarine at the range we were holding USS New Mexico. The Americans were utterly taken aback, blown away with what they were seeing.”