April 28 (UPI) -- BAE Systems debuted Britain's fourth Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine when it was rolled out of Devonshire Dock Hall Thursday, ahead of being lowered into the water Friday morning.
The Audacious will be launched Saturday at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, before starting its test and commissioning program to prepare for sea trials in 2018.
"Today's launch marks an important milestone in the Astute program and demonstrates our pride in building submarines for the Royal Navy," Will Blamey, BAE Systems Submarines managing director, said in a press release. "Audacious enters the water in a more advanced state of build than any previous Astute class submarine, which puts us in a good position for the next phase of work -- the testing and commissioning of her complex systems."
Astute-class submarines are 318-feet long and displace about 8,157 tons. They can carry Tomahawk cruise missiles, and can strike targets as far 600 miles from the coastline.
The Audacious is one of 10 Astute-class submarines being built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy and is said to feature enhancements over earlier vessels of its class.
"It's an exciting moment to see Audacious enter the water for the first time ahead of trials," said Assistant Chief of Naval Staff Submarines Rear Admiral John Weale. "Such a feat of engineering is testament to the skills of the BAE Systems workforce in Barrow."