HER Royal Highness, The Duchess of Rothesay, visited HM Naval Base Clyde today (Thursday, September 10) to meet with the Commanding Officer and some of the crew of HMS Astute.

The visit marks the tenth anniversary of the submarine’s commissioning back in 2010.

As the lady sponsor of the Astute class submarine, Her Royal Highness also attended the commissioning at Faslane, and visited again in 2014 when the submarine returned from her first operational deployment.

The Duchess met the boat's commanding officer, Commander David Crosby, who provided an operational update on HMS Astute before accompanying Her Royal Highness to the Naval Base’s giant 'Shiplift' facility where the submarine is undergoing a period of planned maintenance.

Once inside, the base's special visitor thanked Astute's crew for their dedication and commitment – and thanked the families of the submariners for their support.

She said: "As we look forward to the next ten years of Astute’s service, please know that, wherever you may be, I will be holding you all in my thoughts and prayers.

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“I am certain that, just as you have always done, you will continue to carry out your duties with the pride that comes of being at the forefront of our Naval prowess.

"May you always return safely to harbour.”

Commander Crosby said: “It is a great honour for me to show our Lady Sponsor her submarine and update Her Royal Highness on the recent challenges and successes of her crew and their families.

“HMS Astute, as the first of class, has been at the forefront of delivering the extremely capable Astute Class submarines into the Fleet for over a decade and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to discuss with Her Royal Highness our next operational period.

“Her Royal Highness as always paid close attention to our progress and regularly sends her gratitude to my crew, and as importantly, their families.

"To that end, it was a great honour to be granted this opportunity for my team to show their appreciation of her support”.

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Unfotunately, due to coronavirus restrictions, the Duchess was unable to meet the families of HMS Astute's crew during her visit on Thursday; however she did take a few minutes to present – at a suitable distance – some special awards to a couple of HMS Astute crew members.

The first was the Admiral Max Horton Award, which is awarded to the best warfare officer during the Basic Submarine Qualification (BSQ).

The Duchess presented the award to Lieutenant Craig Barrie, for completing his BSQ to an extremely high standard in parallel with quickly qualifying as a control room watchkeeper and junior warfare officer.

Next to get his award was Lieutenant James Montgomery, who received the Beaufort-Wharton Testimonial Award for achieving the highest marks in the Initial Warfare course at HMS Collingwood during phase 2 of his warfare officer training.

The fourth member of the Astute class of attack submarines, HMS Audacious, arrived at Faslane for the first time in April; as well as HMS Astute herself, the base is already home to sister vessels HMS Ambush and HMS Artful.

The remaining three boats in the class, Anson, Agamemnon and Agincourt, are under construction at the BAE Systems yard in Barrow-in-Furness, and will also be based on the Clyde when complete.

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