§ Mr. Jenkin
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the scheduled launch date is for each of the Astute class SSNs; 
(2) what the in-service date is of HMS Astute. 
§ Dr. Moonie
[holding answer 8 July 2002]: The first Astute class nuclear powered attack submarine, HMS Astute, had been expected to enter service in June 2005. The prime contractor, BAE Systems is achieving improvements in cost compared with previous submarines. However, the company has made slower progress in the detailed design and in the build up of production than anticipated. The first of class, HMS Astute, is now not expected to enter service before late 2006, although this date has yet to be agreed with the contractor. BAE Systems is taking a range of management and other actions to minimise the slippage: this includes a re-assessment of the optimum time to perform the launch during the build sequence. Revised launch dates will not be available until later in the year.
After the initial entry into service, the plan calls for a considerable trials and work up period before the boat will become fully operational. The Ministry of Defence will work with BAE Systems to recover as much as possible of the delay in this period. BAE Systems is working to minimise any delay to the other two submarines on order, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful.