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HMS Audacious breaks record for longest Royal Navy Astute sub deployment

HMS Audacious record deployment
Photo: Royal Navy

A Royal Navy submarine has returned home after completing a record patrol in the Mediterranean.

The conventionally-armed Hunter-killer submarine HMS Audacious was on operations for two days short of a year – a mammoth 363 days away from her base on the Clyde, making it the longest ever deployment for any of the Royal Navy’s new Astute-class submarines.

While the submarine itself remained poised for operations in the Mediterranean, Audacious’ submariners made the most of opportunities associated with planned maintenance and crew rotation, taking periods of leave and seeing family over the festive period.

Commanding officer of HMS Audacious, Commander James Howard, said: “My ship’s company have delivered an unprecedented period of success on operations.

“We have maintained a highly capable and silent nuclear-powered, conventionally armed submarine at high readiness for almost a year. In doing so we’ve operated at arm’s length from the UK, providing support to NATO and exercising with partners in the region.”

In March last year, she sailed from her home at HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane in Scotland to the eastern reaches of the Mediterranean in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine.

The boat had just completed Operational Sea Training – winning the Valiant Trophy for exceptional performance during her certification for front-line duties.

Audacious spent 95 days under NATO command as she supported the alliance’s efforts to combat illicit activity, people smuggling, and illegal trade in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In all, Audacious was away from her base port for 363 days, proving the Royal Navy’s newest nuclear-powered submarines are capable for deploying for extended periods without support – as per their design.

In addition to the year on patrol, the 130-strong crew spent nearly three months preparing for the full range of submarine missions.

Audacious is the fourth submarine in her class, out of a seven boats planned in total, having entered service in September 2021. The submarines carry both Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missiles (TLAM) and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes. The vessels are capable of circumnavigating the globe while submerged, producing their own oxygen and drinking water.