Australian sailors to help crew UK's new nuclear-powered submarine

Boris Johnson calls HMS Anson a 'guarantor of peace' rather than a 'weapon of war'

HMS Anson docked at BAE systems in Barrow-in-Furness before it was officially commissioned into the Royal Navy. PA
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The UK has announced that the HMS Anson, its latest nuclear submarine, will join the Royal Navy.

British and Australian sailors will work and train together on the submarine, as the two countries aim to deepen their military ties as part of the Aukus security pact, which also includes the US.

The Aukus alliance, launched last September, prompted Australia to cancel a contract for a conventional French submarine in favour of nuclear submarines from the US and Britain, damaging relations with Paris.

The nuclear-powered HMS Anson, at 97 metres long and with a displacement of 7,800 tonnes, is the fifth of an eventual seven Astute-class vessels that will join the fleet.

The submarine training programme was announced by British Prime Minister Johnson, Defence Minister Ben Wallace and his Australian counterpart Richard Marles, who was on his first visit to the UK since Australia's new government took office in May.

During a visit to Barrow-in-Furness, where the Anson was built, Mr Johnson said the submarine is an “amazing effort of British engineering” and the product of “a fantastic job by 10,500 people who've helped to build it up and down the country”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the newly commissioned nuclear submarine is a 'guarantor of peace' rather than a 'weapon of war'. PA

“The most interesting thing about it, or one of the many interesting things, is it is going to be partly crewed by Australian submariner trainees,” Mr Johnson said.

“That is the first time we've ever done something like this. That's part of this massive deal that we've done with Australia and with America, the Aukus programme, so that together we hope to be building the next generation of submarines after this one that will be driving jobs and growth in Barrow and elsewhere for decades and decades to come.”

During the commissioning of the HMS Anson, Mr Johnson praised the submarine's abilities and detailed its function in the world.

“What we are looking at is the policeman of the world, gathering intelligence, protecting our sea lanes, cruising up behind you silently, you do not even know it's there, and invisibly helping to create that force field around us that is warding off attack on Nato countries for 80 years, or getting on for 80 years, keeping safe a billion people around the world,” he said.

“That's why I'm so pleased, by the way, but under the Aukus agreements with Australia and with the United States, the technology we hope in the submarine will be used to help keep people safe across the whole of the Pacific region as well.

“Now, some people will continue to insist that this is a weapon of war. I tell you that she is a guarantor of peace. And, in this uncertain world, we need that guarantee more than ever.

The is the first of four submarines in the Astute class delivered by BAE Systems which are now in service with the Royal Navy. The sixth and seventh boats are at an advanced stage of construction in Barrow.

The Dreadnought-class submarines, which will replace the Royal Navy's Vanguard class and will carry the UK's independent nuclear deterrent, are also being designed and built in Barrow.

Manufacturing work is well under way on the first two of four Dreadnought submarines, with the first due to enter service in the early 2030s.

Updated: August 31, 2022, 10:01 PM