The year-long grounding of a submarine built to defend Britain from Russia due to the lack of a working dry dock where it can be repaired is a “serious issue” for national security, according to an expert.
William Freer, national security fellow at the Council on Geostrategy, told Express.co.uk: “The Astute-class submarines are one of the most capable underwater platforms in the world, but there is no point in having them if they are unable to be made ready in an acceptable time frame.
“It is believed that there have been times this year when none of the Royal Navy’s attack submarines have been at sea, which is a serious risk.
“If the British public knows there are vulnerabilities from a lack of readiness in the Armed Forces, then the Russians and the Chinese will also definitely be aware.”
The £1.3billion submarine, HMS Audacious, is stuck at HMNB Devonport, Plymouth, next to a graveyard of rusting subs, awaiting repairs.
However, defence chiefs admit that it will take a long time to get the “hunter-killer” back to sea because there is no avaiable dock in Plymouth.
Freer warned that a “lack of investment” in critical infrastructure like submarine drydock and shipyard capacity is a “serious issue for defence in the United Kingdom as a whole, impacting the Army and RAF as well”.
“Without spending more on the infrastructure that keeps our submarines seaworthy, these issues will persist,” he said.
Contractors Babcock insist the work is on schedule and some of the required repairs to HMS Audacious are already underway.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps told The Sun: “We don’t comment on submarine operations, but we have always been able to fulfil our international commitments.”
News about HMS Audacious’ predicament comes within days of a huge Russian warship being spotted by the Royal Navy travelling through the English Channel.
Back in August, Russian warships were also spotted by the Royal Navy and RAF patrol aircraft moving through the English Channel, North Sea and North Atlantic.