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‘Dive into the bottom of the deep’
OR four months the waters have lapped around
HMS Astute.
● The waters of the basin at Barrow wash off the hull of HMS
Astute as she emerges from her fi rst test dive
Now they have washed over pendulum bob immersed in a bath Picture: Chris Nelson/BAE Systems
her too after the Fleet submarine of oil to prevent it swinging wildly
successfully dived for the fi rst (it’s a method not dissimilar to one
time. used by the Egyptians building the
The hunter-killer did not even Pyramids four and a half millennia
have to leave the security of the ago).
dock where she is being built for The boat is now back inside
the crucial two-day test. the vast Devonshire Boat Hall at
Instead, she was towed over a Barrow where she was born and
25-metre-deep (82ft) ‘dive hole’ where her sisters Ambush, Artful
long enough and wide enough to and Audacious are taking shape.
accommodate her – and almost Fitting out will continue until
deep enough to completely spring 2008 when Astute returns
submerge the submarine. to the water.
It was however deep enough to Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far
test what needed to be tested. away (well, Dartmouth, in fact)...
A crew of 60 – just under half Astute now has a hound named
of them RN submariners, the rest after her, upholding a 129-year
BAE engineers – was aboard for tradition – particularly fi tting
the immersion to check whether given the ship’s badge featuring a
all the pressure seals and hatches hunting dog with prey in its mouth
closed properly and to blow 250 (the boat also has a guide dog
tonnes of water from the forward named in her honour).
tanks. The Britannia Beagles date
“This is the next major back to 1878 when a Lt Guy
milestone for the submarine Mainwairing founded a pack while
following the extremely successful he was serving in cadet ship HMS
launch day in early June,” said Britannia, moored in the Dart.
Cdr Mike Walliker, Astute’s CO, (Actually, the fi rst hound was a
who was aboard his boat for these terrier, Jim, whose gravestone can
crucial tests. still be seen today by the Sandquay
“No stone is ever left unturned steps.)
when it comes to submarine The tradition was continued
safety and I am delighted with all when Britannia became a stone
that Astute has achieved in this frigate 102 years ago and is
comprehensive underwater test. maintained to this day thanks to
“I am very proud to say that we masters Admiral Sir James Eberle
are all contributing to bringing into and former clearance diver David
service the fi nest submarine that Bateman.
the Royal Navy has ever built.” Cdr Walliker and his family
Key to the trials were ensuring offi cially named the pup which,
Astute’s trim and tilt were accurate like the boat, has a fi ne pedigree
by rolling the boat. (her ‘dad’ was champion hound at
Accurate measurements the West of England Hound Show
were taken while the tests were last year).
conducted. Other beagles in the pack bear
And while Astute is crammed suitable RN names (although
with technological wizardry many of their namesake ships
which makes her the world’s most no longer fl y the White Ensign):
advanced submarine, it took a Splendid, Sceptre, Hermes,
nod to the ancient Egyptians to Victory, Richmond, Antrim,
measure tilt and trim. Active, Arrow, Amazon, Achilles,
A plumb line suspended on wire Apollo, Brecon Brazen, Trafalgar
ran through three decks with its and Bulwark (Astute’s sire).
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