THE Royal Naval Base in Gibraltar has had a welcome visitor this weekend in the form of an Astute class nuclear submarine.

The 100 metre long monster will dock at the Gibraltar Naval Squadron base on routine visit where onlookers can get a glimpse of the Royal Navy’s most formidable submarine.

Weighing in at 7,500 tonnes and housing a crew of up to 98 personnel, the Astute-class submarine is one of the Royal Navy’s most powerful attack submarines.

Launched in 2007 from BAE Systems Submarine Solutions in the Cumbrian city of Barrow-in-Furness, it was inaugurated by the Duchess of Cornwall who described her as the “the largest and most able attack submarine that the Royal Navy has operated, with a performance to rival any in the world”.

The Astute has the capability to house up to 38 weapons including Tomahawk cruise missiles and Spearfish and Tigerfish anti-ship missiles.

The Astute was also involved in a bizarre incident in 2011 when a serving naval officer opened fire on board, killing a lieutenant and injuring another.

On April 8, Seaman Ryan Donovan downed 20 pints of cider and lager, as well as cocktails and double vodkas before firing an S80 assault rifle at fellow crew.

Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux lost his life and Petty Officer Christopher Brown was injured in the incident.

Donovan was arrested and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

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