Royal Navy's deadly new Spearfish torpedo built in Portsmouth is ready for the front line
THE world’s most advanced torpedo – built by experts in Portsmouth – has been declared ready for front-line action with the Royal Navy following a series of deep water trials in the Bahamas.
Five of the cutting-edge Spearfish heavy torpedoes were successfully fired by British submarine HMS Audacious – the fourth of the Royal Navy’s Astute-class nuclear-powered submarines – during three days of trials on a special range.
The firings at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Centre on Andros Island, studied the performance of the weapon at its maximum operating depth and challenged the torpedo's homing abilities through the introduction of countermeasures.
The trials in the Bahamas were the latest in a string of crucial tests on the upgraded heavyweight torpedo since the decision was taken to enhance it in 2010.
The souped-up Spearfish – known as the Mod-1 – features a new warhead, new, safer fuel system, a smarter electronic ‘brain’ and a fibre-optic guidance link with its parent submarine to improve its accuracy and lethality.
These trials took place after Initial operating capability was achieved, meaning work can now begin turning existing Spearfish into the improved Mod-1 version for entry into operational service with all Royal Navy submarines by 2025.
Commodore Bob Anstey, the senior officer responsible for the programme and deputy director submarines, said the latest milestone was the ‘culmination of a great effort’ from all those involved in the torpedo project.
‘Whilst we remain focused on the ultimate aim of providing the full Spearfish Mod-1 operational capability, the team should be congratulated on achieving this important milestone; a critical step in the process of maintaining the effectiveness of the Royal Navy’s submarine-launched heavyweight torpedo for years to come,’ he added.
Spearfish has been the Silent Service’s weapon of choice for taking out foes on and below the waves for nearly 30 years, capable of crippling frigates, destroyers and large warships, as well as hostile submarines.
The weapons were developed by experts at BAE Systems Broad Oak munitions factory, in Hilsea.
Dave Quick, head of underwater weapons, maritime services at BAE, was ‘delighted’ by the results of the trials and added: ‘We all remain focused on supporting the UK Royal Navy as this significant Spearfish Mod-1 weapon capability is introduced into service.’