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Agamemnon uses the forge as new submarine bonds with the steel city

1 December 2023
There’s a formal bond between Britain’s newest nuclear submarine and the steel city of Sheffield.

HMS Agamemnon – No.6 of seven Astute-class hunter-killer boats built for the Royal Navy Submarine Service – has shaken hands with Sheffield Forgemasters, which traces its history back to before Nelson, signing a Bond of Friendship.

The South Yorkshire firm, which was nationalised two years ago, is a heavy engineering specialist, designing and manufacturing high-integrity forgings and castings for the world’s most complex engineering challenges… including Astute-class submarines (which have been compared with the Space Shuttle in terms of complexity).

The skills and high-quality workmanship of Sheffield Forgemasters’ workforce are vital to the safety and integrity of our submarines and Agamemnon’s crew took the opportunity of the bond signing to explain to employees the role they play and what life aboard the world’s most advanced submarine is like.

In return, the Forgemasters showed the submariners around their works which, among other products, provides critical nuclear components for both military and civilian use (including the Sizewell B power station).

They were particularly impressed to see the forgers casting parts which are likely to be installed in the fourth of the next-generation SSN-Aukus submarines which are due to begin replacing the Astutes from the late 2030s… and will be in service well into the 2070s.

If you’re wondering what a ‘bond of friendship’ is compared with, say, an affiliation… well, it’s an association, typically reviewed (and renewed) annually and generally falls outside the four main categories of affiliation (city or borough, livery company, youth organisation (e.g. Sea Cadets) and military unit).

“It was a privilege to tour the Sheffield Forgemasters site and to see at first hand the incredible work that the company delivers on behalf of the UK’s defence programme,” said Agamemnon’s Commanding Officer Commander David ‘Bing’ Crosby… who is a Sheffielder himself and supports Wednesday, whom his daughter plays for at U16 level.

“We are totally reliant on the impeccable safety requirements that our suppliers must meet to ensure that our vessels can head out to sea, often for considerable periods of time, and as we work to provide support to the country’s Continual At Sea Nuclear Deterrent, a submarine delivered National endeavour.

“The Bond of Friendship means that we will always be linked with this great Sheffield company and we will share news of each other’s progress and collaborate on various events when we are back in dock.”

Richard Bell, Sales and Business Development Director at Sheffield Forgemasters, added: “It is a great honour to have signed The Bond of Friendship with HMS Agamemnon and its crew and we look forward to learning much more about the team and their lives at the forefront of our defence strategy.”

It’s the latest tie with the White Rose county for the new boat which is affiliated with the city of Wakefield – crew have already supported some mayoral events – and Yorkshire University Royal Navy Unit, based in Leeds.

Back in Barrow, for the first time crew welcomed the boat’s sponsor, Lady Sarah-Jane Sedwill, among several friends and VIPs shown around the hunter-killer as she nears completion in the huge Devonshire Dock Hall at BAE’s works.

Lady Sedwill

What an absolute pleasure it was to see everyone working together and having such pride in their critical part that they play in this national endeavour.

Lady Sarah-Jane joined the Honourable Mary Montagu-Scott, director of Buckler’s Hard Maritime museum, which has also signed a bond of friendship with ‘Aggie’ and will provide the battle honours board with oak from the same forest as the first Agamemnon (Nelson’s favourite ship) back in 1781.

In company with John Moorby, Astute Programme Director, and Cdr Crosby, they toured the complex, workshops, main assembly hall, and the Submarines Academy for Skills and Knowledge and chatted with BAE employees and Agamemnon’s crew about bringing the boat to life.

“What an absolute pleasure it was to see everyone working together and having such pride in their critical part that they play in this national endeavour,” said Lady Sedwill.

“It was very apparent that everyone involved in her creation not only works together as a team but are also immensely proud of what they do. It was fantastic to visit the Devonshire Dock Hall and see HMS Agamemnon midway through build which has helped me visualise her completion and how awesome she will be.

“I am very excited to be planning another visit to see her progress, and have more opportunities to meet up with crew members and the BAE team, learning more about life on a nuclear submarine and how, as Sponsor, I can fulfil my role to the best of my ability throughout HMS Agamemnon’s life into the Submarine Service.”

She is due to return later this year for the boat’s naming ceremony, after which the submarine – named for the legendary leader of Greek forces in the Trojan Wars and the sixth Royal Navy vessel to carry the name –  will enter the water to begin trials (including a practice dive) so she can depart the yard and join her operational sisters in Faslane.

“This first visit of our sponsor is another key step as we push Aggie towards naming and then launch,” said Commander Crosby.

“The visit enabled Lady Sedwill to learn and see first-hand the progress of the submarine and the sheer volume of endeavour across the yard to meet the Royal Navy’s demands.”

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