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.