Wednesday 26 July 2017

That sinking feeling: £1.2bn N-sub not so Astute

Crew members stand on the deck of the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Astute yesterday, near the Skye bridge off the Isle of Skye in northwest Scotland
Crew members stand on the deck of the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Astute yesterday, near the Skye bridge off the Isle of Skye in northwest Scotland

Kim Sengupta

THE HMS Astute had been billed as the 'stealthiest' of underwater fighting machines, one the enemy would find virtually impossible to see and track. What turned out to be 'invisible' during the vessel's sea trials, however, were the rocks near a bridge.

The Royal Navy's newest and largest attack submarine, which is nuclear powered, became a tourist attraction on the Isle of Skye where dozens gathered to take pictures of the 100-foot vessel.

A spokesman for the UK Ministry of Defence stressed that this was "not a nuclear incident" and that the £1.2bn (€1.35bn) boat was watertight. It was, however, an embarrassing end to a week for the military which had seen the defence budget slashed. The navy had won its fight to get two new aircraft carriers built, but Britain will not have any carrier cover for a decade because of a lack of aircraft.

The coastguard said yesterday that an attempt to tow the submarine out had failed and navy vessels and a tug would make further attempts at high tide.

Some residents said they were worried about the risks surrounding a nuclear submarine.

Rachel Browett, who runs the Bright Water Visitor Centre, said: "Anything with the word nuclear in it is obviously a worry, but I don't know enough about it to say more."

Irish Independent

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