May 17, 2021 – The fifth of the Silent Service’s Astute-class submarines sits in the water as she enters the final stages of construction and commissioning.
HMS Anson was rolled out of her home for the past decade before being lowered into the water at BAE’s yard in Barrow during a delicate two-day operation.
Now she’s conducting final testing and commissioning of systems, preparing for her first dive – submerging most of the boat in a special dry dock – ahead of leaving Cumbria next year and joining her four sisters in Faslane.
Anson’s crew are key to all these tests, having been increasingly involved in the construction and fitting out process of their boat, which was formally named by her sponsor Julie Weale just before Christmas.
The final stages of the boat’s completion were complicated by the pandemic, which placed particular challenges and demands on the complex operation to lower the hunter-killer into the water.
After thorough testing and commissioning of some 40 critical systems, the crew are responsible for the boat’s watertight integrity during her time in Barrow as well as general safety aboard.
On board Anson, BAE staff joined submariners, led by the boat’s first commanding officer Commander David ‘Bing’ Crosby, operating critical positions, such as running the diesel engines for power, changing the ventilation states, and bringing air into the ballast tanks for buoyancy.
Everyone aboard – service and civilian – has to comply with Covid regulations which meant wearing sealable facemasks.
“The roll out itself from the dock hall is a slow and delicate operation, checking that the cradles and submarine hull are not subject to stress as the boat is rolled over the transitions on to the ship-lift,” explained Commander Crosby.
“Lowering the ship-lift also takes time, with the Naval architects ensuring that all the tanks have the correct contents, so the boat maintains the correct trim as she floats. As she is lowered the ship’s staff are conducting rounds, leak checks and looking for floods.”
Once afloat, the boat was ‘cold moved’ to Wet Dock Quay with the assistance of tugs for training leading to the next milestone, the trim dive.
Commander Crosby said the efforts so far by the combined team working on his boat had been “nothing short of amazing”.
He continued: “The launch marks a significant milestone in the delivery of HMS Anson to the front line.
“I am extremely encouraged by the strong relationships my team and the RN are maintaining with the BAE build team and their contracted support; these teams will ensure HMS Anson leave Barrow in 2022 set well for sea trials ahead of what will be a long and successful operational life.
“My small team have worked tirelessly over the past nine months to get the acceptance of watertight integrity systems over the line, thereby supporting the next stage.
“BAE and the RN returned to work last May and, through a stringent Covid testing process and adherence to PPE guidelines, have worked wonders to deliver us to this point.
“I would also like to thank my team and their families for their understanding and support at the challenging time – their support is essential to our continued success.”
BAE Systems photos