“On this day in history” HM Submarine A12 placed in commission, 1908

“On this day in history” Royal Navy A-class submarine HMS A12 placed into commission.

Getty seem to have captioned this photo “HMS Aurora A12,” but this is a mistake. The Aurora with pennant no. 12 was an Arethusa-class cruiser. Definitely not a submarine.

The A-class were the Royal Navy’s first submarines built to a British design. All thirteen submarines in the class were built by Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness.


Flotilla of A-class submarines, including HMS A12.

Already obsolete by the outbreak of war in 1914, A12 and the other submarines in her class were used for harbour defence and training. After the war, A12 was placed on the disposal list and scrapped at Ardrossan in 1920.

Former Royal Navy submarine HMS Onyx towed to scrapyard

HMS Onyx has left Barrow-in-Furness and is on her way to the ship breakers at Helensburgh. If nobody could raise the funds to preserve her as a museum ship during the last eight years, then it’s unlikely that anyone is going to step in at the last minute and save her.

Story from the North West Evening Mail follows:

Falklands veteran sub leaves Barrow and embarks on her final voyage
Thursday, 01 May 2014

A SUBMARINE left rusting in docks has been towed away after eight years.

HMS Onyx, an Oberon-class vessel which saw service in the Falklands War, was brought to Barrow in 2006 by businessman Joe Mullen as part of plans to use it as a museum.

Mr Mullen paid £117,000 for the sub after an idea by the Barrow branch of the Submariners Association, led by Terry Spurling, that it could become an interactive centrepiece at a submarine heritage centre.

Yesterday HMS Onyx was towed from Buccleuch Dock, in Barrow.

Mr Spurling said: “It is a hope more than anything that she is saved but at the moment she is going to Helensburgh for scrap.

“I happen to know there are people in Helensburgh trying to do what we tried to do here.

“It would be a tragedy if she was to be scrapped, she’s in such good condition internally and she is one of the Falklands boats.

“She’s one of the last O-boats available for a heritage centre, I do hope she is not scrapped.”

HMS Onyx (S21) was built at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead and commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1967. She served throughout the Cold War and saw honourable service during the Falklands War, landing special forces along the coast. Decomissioned in 1991, Onyx was placed on display in Birkenhead by the Warship Preservation Trust. In 2006, the trust went into liquidation and Onyx was sold to Barrow businessman Joe Mullen for £100,000. Funds to preserve Onyx as a museum ship were not forthcoming… and so we reach the end of her story.

Photos inside new Royal Navy submarine HMS Artful nearing completion

Some great images from inside HMS Artful by photographer Phil Noble.

A bank of computer screens are seen in the control room onboard HMS Artful one of the Royal Navy’s Astute class submarines as it approaches completion at the company’s Barrow shipyard. Corbis, 2014.

Crew living quarters are seen onboard HMS Artful, one of the Royal Navy’s Astute class submarines as it approaches completion at the company’s Barrow shipyard. Corbis 2014.

Crew bunks are seen onboard HMS Artful, one of the Royal Navy’s Astute class submarines as it approaches completion at the company’s Barrow shipyard. Corbis 2014.

Crew toilets are seen onboard HMS Artful, one of the Royal Navy’s Astute class submarines as it approaches completion at the company’s Barrow shipyard. Corbis 2014.

A torpedo tube is seen onboard HMS Artful, one of the Royal Navy’s Astute class submarines as it approaches completion at the company’s Barrow shipyard. Corbis 2014.

A dummy Tomahawk missile is seen onboard HMS Artful, one of the Royal Navy’s Astute class submarines as it approaches completion at the company’s Barrow shipyard. Corbis 2014.

HMS Hermes joins the Royal Navy, 1959 newsreel from British Pathé

British Pathé newsreel of Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Hermes from 1959.

Artful the Monkey, official mascot of Artful the submarine

Animals that live, eat, sleep and crap in small enclosure? Yep… submariners 😉

HMS Artful is the second Astute-class submarine to be commissioned into Royal Navy service. Together with HMS Astute, lead boat of the class, she joins the RN’s five Trafalgar class submarines as part of the SSN fleet.

Artful goes nuts over submarine’s new mascot

The crew of Britain’s newest nuclear submarine – officially named today in Barrow today – unveiled the boat’s namesake mascot ahead of the milestone ceremony in the boat’s life.

Artful, a ten-month-old lemur monkey from South Lakes Wild Animal Park, has been adopted by the crew of the £1bn hunter-killer.

You can never have too many pictures of lemur monkeys holding the crest of the £1bn nuclear submarine for which they are named…

You can never have too many pictures of lemur monkeys holding the crest of the £1bn nuclear submarine for which they are named…

This is Artful the Monkey, official mascot of Artful the Submarine, which will be unveiled in a formal ceremony in Barrow tomorrow as the hunter-killer – the third of Britain’s seven Astute-class boats – nears completion.

Ahead of the big day in the boat’s life, a nine-strong team from Artful made the short trip to South Lakes Wild Animal Park to adopt the ten-month-old baby ring-tailed lemur.

Lt Arron Williams, Artful’s CO Cdr Scott Bower, AB Leon Stewart and a bunch of new friends

The inspiration for the adoption came from the submarine’s crest – although the creature on the boat’s historic symbol, chosen in 1945 by the Admiralty’s advisor on heraldry for the first Artful, is actually an unspecified species of primate.

“Having walked around the wildlife park with my wife last year, I remembered they had little monkeys and thought that adopting one as a mascot would be a good idea,” said 24-year-old Lt Aaron Williams from Bradford.

“We wanted to do something quirky to mark the naming ceremony.

“When I did a little research into the crest, I found out that it was chosen to represent the quality of artfulness, monkeys having the reputation of being clever and resourceful creatures.”

Sadly they had to let them out eventually… Some of the Artfuls in the spider monkey enclosure they spruced up

Meanwhile in the wildlife park’s spider monkey enclosure… Knot and rope skills were put to good use as the submariners spruced things up for its inhabitants.

“I love monkeys, but let’s hope they don’t complain about my decorating skills as much as my wife does!” said 33-year-old PO Lee Sinclair from Aberdeen.

As for Artful, well sadly the new mascot will be going nowhere near his boat (monkey + £1bn submarine, what could possibly go wrong?). Animals have been banned from Her Majesty’s ships since the 1970s for reasons of hygiene.

Which is a shame because the RN had a long and unusual history of mascots from the animal kingdom, from Simon the Cat which kept the vermin at bay on HMS Amethyst on the Yangtze; to Barbara the polar bear, rescued as a cub from drifting ice off Greenland and a ship’s mascot until growing too large and re-homed in Portsmouth; and Winnie, another monkey mascot who travelled with Great War torpedo boat HMS Velox.

“We won’t be able to get Artful on board, but the crew will still take an interest in him and no doubt a few of the guys and their families will be visiting the wildlife park in the future to see how he is doing,” said Lt Williams.

Alpha Lemur… The monkeys are excited by the presence of Lt Williams and the boat’s crest

As for the submarine, she’s been eight and half years in the making. The naming ceremony today is roughly the equivalent of launching a surface ship (there’s no slipway for submarines, which are inched out of the gigantic Devonshire Dock Hall at BAE’s Barrow yard), including smashing a bottle of champers against the hull in the age-old style.

Building on the extensive trials and tests of her older sisters Astute and Ambush, both of which are due to carry out their first operational patrols in a matter of months, Artful is due to enter service in 2015.

The only previous Artful, sister of HMS Alliance on display in Gosport at the RN Submarine Museum, served for over two decades from the late 1940s until the end of the 1960s, before being broken up.


HMS Artful launch delayed by fear of quay collapse

£1.2 billion of naval hardware held up by a rotting dock. Ladies and gentlemen… broken Britain.

Quay concerns delay launch of navy submarine

Nuclear safety watchdog bars launch of reactor-driven HMS Artful due to doubts about structural integrity of Barrow quay

HMS Artful’s sister submarine Astute at the BAE Systems shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

The nuclear safety watchdog has blocked the launch of the Royal Navy’s newest reactor-driven submarine because of a risk that a dockside could collapse.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has barred the launch of HMS Artful, the third of Britain’s Astute-class hunter-killer submarines, because of doubts about the structural integrity of the wet dock quay at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

The submarine’s manufacturer, BAE Systems, had previously planned for a launch this year but now says it will be early next year. It said the problem with the dock would not cause further delays.

ONR raised its concerns in its quarterly report on the Barrow shipyard covering April to June 2013. It has ordered BAE Systems, as the site licensee, to investigate and report back on whether the dock was safe to use. “ONR placed a hold point on the launch of the next Astute-class submarine which will only be removed once the licensee can address and justify the continued use of the aging wet dock quay,” the report says.

According to ONR, the quay is used to help commission the Astute-class submarines. “Recent surveys have indicated that there may be some deterioration in its structure,” said an ONR spokeswoman. “As a result, the safety justification for use of this facility is being reviewed by BAE Systems to ensure that it remains valid. Until BAE Systems’ investigations have been completed, ONR cannot say whether there will need to be a major programme of work. However, in the interim, ONR has placed a hold on launch of the next submarine so that we will have to be satisfied that the structure remains fit for purpose.”

In a report about a visit to the Barrow yard by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in April, BAE Systems said Artful was due for launch this year. The first two submarines in the much-delayed £9.75bn fleet, HMS Astute and HMS Ambush, are at sea and another four are still being built.

A spokesperson for BAE Systems said: “We do not expect this to delay the launch of the next Astute-class submarine, which is scheduled for early next year. As always, if any work is required to the wet dock quay, safety will be a priority.”

Peter Burt, of the Nuclear Information Service, which monitors military activities, pointed out that much of Britain’s nuclear infrastructure was decades old. “It’s showing its age,” he said. “Hundreds of millions of pounds are being spent in secret each year as the Ministry of Defence struggles to bring ageing facilities up to modern safety standards, adding even more to the already enormous costs of the Trident replacement and Astute submarine programmes.”


Royal Navy Tribal-class frigates

HMS Ashanti (F117)
built: Yarrow & Co Ltd, Glasgow
laid down: 15 January 1958
launched: 9 March 1959
commissioned: 23 November 1961
fate: sunk as target 1988

HMS Nubian (F131)
built: HM Dockyard, Portsmouth
laid down: 7 September 1959
launched: 6 September 1960
commissioned: 9 October 1962
fate: sunk as target 1987

HMS Gurkha (F122)
built: JI Thornycroft & Co Ltd, Southampton
laid down: 3 November 1958
launched: 11 July 1960
commissioned: 13 February 1963
fate: sold to Indonesia as ‘Wilhelmus Zakarias Yohannes’ in 1984

HMS Eskimo (F119)
built: JS White & Co Ltd, Cowes, Isle of Wight
laid down: 22 October 1958
launched: 20 March 1960
commissioned: 21 February 1963
fate: sunk as target 1986

HMS Tartar (F133)
built: HM Dockyard, Devonport
laid down: 22 October 1959
launched: 19 September 1960
commissioned: 26 February 1962
fate: sold to Indonesia as ‘Hasanuddin’ 1984

HMS Mohawk (F125)
built: Vickers-Armstrongs (Shipbuilders) Ltd, Barrow-in-Furness
laid down: 23 December 1960
launched: 5 April 1962
commissioned: 29 December 1963
fate: sold for scrap 1982

HMS Zulu (F124)
built: Alex Stephen & Sons, Ltd, Linthouse, Glasgow
laid down: 13 December 1960
launched: 3 July 1962
commissioned: 17 April 1964
fate: sold to Indonesia as ‘Martha Khristina Tiyahahu’ 1984

Royal Navy Whitby-class frigates

HMS Whitby (F36)
built: Cammell Laird and Co Ltd, Birkenhead
laid down: 30 September 1952
launched: 2 July 1954
commissioned: 10 July 1956
paid off: 1974
fate: sold for scrapping 1979

HMS Torquay (F43)
built: Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast
laid down: 11 March 1953
launched: 1 July 1954
commissioned: 10 May 1956
paid off: 1985
fate: sold for scrapping 1987

HMS Scarborough (F63)
built: Vickers Armstrongs (Shipbuilders) Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne and Vickers Armstrongs (Engineers) Ltd, Barrow-in-Furness
laid down: 11 September 1953
launched: 4 April 1955
commissioned: 10 May 1957
paid off: 1972
fate: 1977

HMS Tenby (F65)
built: Cammell Laird and Co Ltd, Birkenhead
laid down: 23 June 1953
launched: 4 October 1955
commissioned: 18 December 1957
paid off: 1972
fate: sold for scrapping 1979

HMS Eastbourne (F73)
built: Vickers Armstrongs (Shipbuilders) Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne and Vickers Armstrongs (Engineers) Ltd, Barrow-in-Furness
laid down: 13 January 1954
launched: 29 December 1955
commissioned: 9 January 1958
paid off: 1984
fate: sold for scrapping 1985

HMS Blackpool (F77)
built: Harland and Wolff, Belfast
laid down: 20 December 1954
launched: 14 February 1957
commissioned: 14 August 1958
paid off: 1971
fate: sold for scrapping 1980