HMS Astute, the lead ship of Britain's newest class of advanced nuclear-powered attack submarines, departed the BAE Systems' shipyard in Barrow, Cumbria, and arrived at her permanent homeport in Faslane on the Clyde, Scotland, this past November. The submarine is expected to enter service later this year after completing sea trials that will include extensive testing of all her operational systems to ensure sea-handling qualities and weapons capabilities are up to stringent requirements. Launched in 2007, Astute is 323 feet (97 meters) long and displaces more than 7,000 tons when submerged. She can be armed with up to 38 tube-launched weapons, a combination of Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles. Three additional units of the class are under construction, including sisters Ambush and Artful, expected to enter service in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and HMS Audacious, which was laid down in 2009 and is expected in service by 2014. Two to three additional units of the class are also planned.
A senior Indian Coast Guard admiral recently described plans to double the strength of the force during the next four years and to triple it by 2020. These changes, discussed by Vice Admiral Anil Chopra and reported by local news media, came largely as a result of the deadly November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which gunmen used small watercraft to sneak unnoticed into the city where they killed scores and wounded hundreds of innocent people. The Indian Coast Guard is also increasing its physical presence through the construction of more than a dozen modern naval stations, including one at Karwar that began operating this past November. India's Coast Guard was established in 1977 and now consists of more than 5,000 personnel and approximately 70 vessels, including one of its newest and largest patrol ships, the 2,250-ton Sankalp, pictured here.