A British Royal Navy Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine sailed into Gibraltar on March 16, coinciding alongside the Z-berth in the South Mole with a US submarine that arrived earlier in the week.
The British submarine, believed to be HMS Audacious, docked next to the Ohio-class USS Georgia. The arrival of the vessel followed President Putin’s ban on the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and several other members of his Cabinet from ever entering Russia.
Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement, “In connection with the unprecedented hostile actions of the British government, expressed, in particular, in the imposition of sanctions against top officials of the Russian Federation, a decision was made to include key members of the British government and several political figures in the Russian ‘stop list’.
“Shortly, this list will be expanded to include British politicians and parliamentarians who contribute to whipping up anti-Russian hysteria.”
The Kremlin has singled out PM Johnson as the “most active” opponent of the war in Ukraine.
(1/2) HMS Audacious arriving in Gibraltar this afternoon #submarine #shipsinpics #Ships #shipping #shipspotting@air_intel @Covertshores@Navylookout @The_lookout_n@Seawaves_mag@WarshipCam #royalnavy pic.twitter.com/OErT3IpMvh
— Daniel Ferro (@Gibdan1) April 16, 2022
The Astute-class submarines are the largest and most advanced attack vessels in UK’s arsenal. They are the first class of UK submarines not to be fitted with optical periscopes, instead, they have high specification video technology to scan the horizon. Also, the class is the quietest ever made.
HMS Audacious is the fourth Astute-class nuclear-powered attack submarine commissioned by the British Royal Navy in September 2021.
The boat is 97m in length and has a total displacement of 7,800 tonnes and can sail at a maximum speed of more than 30 knots. It is capable of circumnavigating the globe submerged and can produce its oxygen and potable water.
The submarine is powered by very advanced nuclear technology and will never require to be refueled.
Equipped with advanced sensors and the capability to fire both, Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles (TLAM) and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes, HMS Audacious is a hunter-killer submarine that can attack and sink other subs and surface ships with its torpedoes and attack land targets with its cruise missiles.
While, the US Navy’s Ohio-class USS Georgia, is also one of the only four nuclear submarines from its class, with the ‘guided missile’ capability.
The nuclear-powered guided-missile submarines or SSGNs, such as the USS Georgia were converted from previous Ohio class nuclear powered ballistic missiles (SSBNs) to fire BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles rather than the nuclear-armed Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
The earlier SSBN version had 24 missiles tubes while the latest SSGN version has 22 missiles that can each fire 7 Tomahawk missiles and the remaining two tubes have been converted into lockout chambers for combat divers and Navy SEALs to enter and exit the submarine underwater.
Also, two dry deck shelters (DDS) can be installed atop the SSGN’s hull while linked to the lockout chambers, allowing Navy SEALs to enter or exit the shelters and deploy and recover swimmer delivery vehicles mini-submarines.
The submarine has special operations mission centers and mission planning spaces, additional sensor and communication systems, and other modifications that enable it to operate undetected and in shallower waters than its Ohio SSBN counterparts.
Unlike traditional surface command ships, the USS Georgia can act as a “clandestine sea-base” to direct forward operations while sailing concealed below the surface of the ocean.
Reports also suggest that USS Georgia can launch unmanned aircraft for intelligence gathering and attack purposes.
For Gibraltar to host two of the most advanced nuclear submarines from Britain and the US simultaneously is demonstrative of its increased role as a naval logistics base amid heightened tensions between Russia and NATO on the backdrop of Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Located on the southern coast of Spain, the British Royal Navy’s base in Gibraltar provides a strategic location at the eastern end of the Strait of Gibraltar, which links the Atlantic Ocean, to the West, with the Mediterranean Sea.
The Tomahawk cruise missiles on board the HMS Audacious and USS Georgia endanger any Russian vessels operating within 1000 miles radius of these SSGNs in the Mediterranean Sea.
While moving further eastwards into the Mediterranean sea, the USS Georgia can provide multi-purpose capabilities against targets in Crimea, Ukraine, and Russia which include conventional strike, intelligence-gathering, and undersea command and control for tactical operations by special forces.