UK & World News

  • 16 November 2012, 12:57

Navy's New Hi-Tech Attack Sub Leaks Water

The Royal Navy's multi-billion pound hunter-killer submarine HMS Astute encountered a flooding problem during sea trials last year, it has emerged.

Officials said the attack vessel let in tens of litres of water due to a corroded metal cap on one of its cooling pipes. As a result it was  forced to resurface.

Electrical switchboards were also found to be fitted incorrectly and concerns were raised about the accuracy of instruments monitoring its on-board nuclear reactor.

Despite the teething problems, defence officials said the issues had been rectified and it was "normal for first-of-class trials to identify areas where modifications are required".

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "During trials last year, HMS Astute experienced a leak which was immediately isolated and the submarine returned safely to the surface.

"An investigation found one small part, which had not been made of the correct material, had corroded. A replacement was fitted at sea and the submarine continued with her programme.

"BAE Systems has carried out a full assessment which concluded all similar parts were fitted correctly."

The MoD said a full assessment concluded the material had no impact on the submarine's operation.

But the leaking incident is not the first time Astute has encountered problems during sea trials. In April 2012 she ran aground near the Isle of Skye after attempting to pull alongside another vessel.

Officers on the bridge lost their bearings and inexplicably switched off the echo sounder which would have enabled the crew to get a real-time feed on the depth of the sea below.

Responding to corrosion problems, the spokesman added: "All Royal Navy submarines are subject to a continuous, thorough assessment of their components to minimise the risk of corrosion."

Officials would not comment on reports that Astute also suffered from speed and propulsion issues during the trials.

The MoD added: "HMS Astute's sea trials were designed to rigorously test all aspects of the submarine to meet the exacting standards required for operations.

"It is normal for first of class trials to identify areas where modifications are required and these are then incorporated into later vessels of the class.

"These will be the most technologically advanced submarines ever to serve with the Royal Navy and will provide an outstanding capability for decades to come."

The Astute Class of attack submarines will progressively replace the Trafalgar Class vessels currently in use.

HMS Astute, which was built by BAE systems, is yet to enter formal service.

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