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New UK Submarine Nearing Completion

Britain\'s latest nuclear submarine is nearing completion. HMS Astute, constructed at Barrow, will be the Royal Navy\'s biggest, most powerful attack submarine ever. Weighing 7,800 tonnes - equivalent to 1,000 double-decker buses and almost 100 metres (328ft) long, it has more firepower than any previous attack sub. It is due to be launched next year and will be based with the Vanguard Class subs at Faslane from 2008. It is the first of three Astute Class submarines being built for the Navy. The Astute is different to the defensive Vanguard Class subs, whose Trident nuclear missiles carry Britain\'s nuclear deterrent. As an attack vessel, its Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles are capable of delivering pin-point strikes from 2,000km (1,240 miles) with conventional weapons. Powered by a nuclear reactor it will never have to be refuelled during its 25-year life, can manufacture its own oxygen from sea water and is capable of circumnavigating the globe while totally submerged.