Astute-class submarine HMS Artful at Faslane naval base
The Royal Navy’s fleet of seven ‘hunter-killer’ subs are understood to be non-operational with five undergoing maintenance work.
HMS Astute, commissioned in 2010, is thought to be the only one at sea although she is still weeks away from active service following a recent tune-up.
According to The Sun, it is the first time in decades Britain does not have an attack submarine on stand-by to respond to threats.
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HMS Astute undergoes repairs after an accident near Gibraltar
Sources said the Navy’s three Astute-class vessels – built by BAE Systems – are ‘beset by problems’ despite costing around £1.2billion each.
The others currently in service are the HMS Ambush – which is being repaired after crashing into a tanker off Gibraltar in 2016, and HMS Artful.
A Whitehall source said: “No one is being honest about the scandal.”
All seven nuclear-powered submarines patrol trade routes “under threat from Iran” and keep a close eye on what the Russians are getting up to in the Atlantic.
HMS Artful after her commissioning ceremony at Faslane
Britain has a world-class fleet, the Royal Navy continues to meet all of its operational tasking
Royal Navy spokesman
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Four Trafalgar-class vessels – the Torbay, Trenchant, Talent and Triumph – are ‘on their last legs’.
They were commissioned in 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991 respectively and cost around £200million each.
The Torbay was set to be decommissioned in 2015 but underwent extra repairs to prolong her service.
Trenchant is set to finish her service in the Navy in 2019 while Talent will follow in 2021 and Triumph will end her career in 2022.
HMS Astute spotted at sea off the Isle of Skye Defence Secretary visits UK nuclear submarine Fri, January 22, 2016
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon visits HMS Vigilant, one of the UK's four nuclear warhead-carrying submarines at Royal Navy’s Faslane nuclear base on the Clyde.
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Defence Secretary Michael Fallon visits HMS Vigilant at HM Naval Base Clyde, also known as Faslane in Scotland
Meanwhile, the Astute class submarines have all been commissioned since 2010, beginning with the HMS Astute, with Ambush following in 2013 and Artful entering service last year.
Despite only being in use for a small number of years, they have experienced teething problems with break-downs.
A Royal Navy spokesman said: "We don’t comment on specific submarine operations.
"Britain has a world-class fleet, the Royal Navy continues to meet all of its operational tasking, deploying globally on operations and protecting our national interests as Britain steps up around the world."
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