The newest of the Royal Navy’s Astute-class nuclear attack submarines has completed her maiden operational deployment which saw the boat carry out NATO security patrols in the Mediterranean Sea.
HMS Audacious is the fourth of seven submarines in its class. It joined sister boats – HMS Astute, Ambush and Artful – on the front line for the first time in January after formally being commissioned in September 2021, spending months in the depths of the North Atlantic and Mediterranean.
Audacious left her home of Clyde Naval Base in Scotland and, after two months of intensive sea training designed to test the boat’s equipment and sailors to the limit, left the waters close to the UK bound south for the Med.
After loading Tomahawk missiles in Gibraltar, Audacious sailed into the Mediterranean and completed exercises with NATO allies, including training with Greek, Turkish and United States allies.
The training tested Audacious’ ability to evade, track and engage her foes underwater and on the surface.
It offered NATO allies the chance to pit their wits against a nuclear attack submarine – a relatively rare training opportunity for many navies, as they looked to hunt down Audacious beneath the waves.
“These exercises helped HMS Audacious to demonstrate her prowess as the newest, most capable SSN that the UK has to offer while also strengthening NATO capability and interoperability and demonstrating our resolve towards NATO Missions,” said Commanding Officer, Commander Jim Howard.
Audacious followed this up by carrying out a period of NATO operations to provide security to the region, something the Royal Navy regularly carries out alongside allies and partners.
Before her foray into the Med, Audacious carried out essential training off the coast of Scotland, during which submariners were put through a range of mock crises on board, from fires to floods, to ensure they are ready to work together and respond calmly in a real emergency.
Final trials were completed, too, which thoroughly tested systems on the cutting-edge boat to make sure they will stand up to the stresses and strains of extended operations.
The Astute-class are capable of circumnavigating the globe while submerged, producing their own oxygen and drinking water to sustain the crews on arduous and lengthy deployments.
Audacious’ first deployment also marked the completion of qualifications for many crew members, which sees them learn the location and function of hundreds of valves aboard and ‘earn their dolphins’ to become fully-fledged submariners.
Fresh from her own deployment to the Arctic, in which she carried out a number of missions including sub-surface stealth raids with Royal Marines Commandos, sister submarine HMS Ambush joined Audacious as she limbered up for full operations off the Scottish coast.
The two submarines went head-to-head in underwater battles, going toe to toe in a range of warfare scenarios and training together.