HMS Astute, the Royal Navy's newest and largest nuclear-powered attack submarine, has been rolled out.

HMS Astute, the Royal Navy’s newest and largest nuclear-powered attack submarine, has been rolled out of her building shed. HRH The Duchess of Cornwall christened the 7,400 tonne boat at a ceremony in Barrow-in-Furness.

Astute is the first in a new class of submarines whose construction has been described as more complex than that of the space shuttle. She will never need to be refuelled, and advanced onboard life support systems mean she can circumnavigate the globe without needing to surface.

The 100m long boat is also the first British submarine to be fitted with a new optronics system rather than conventional periscopes. Astute is scheduled to start sea trials in March next year, and she will be handed over to the Royal Navy in August 2008.