The 15,000 tonne Scotland based Trident submarine ‘HMS Vengeance’ sailed into Devonport in March this year. As part of a £350m Ministry of Defence contract to refit and refuel, it’s been suggested that the ballistic nuclear submarine has safeguarded upwards of 2,000 UK jobs across the defence industry.
Assystem Energy and Nuclear staff pictured outside the Trident refit complex in Babcock’s Devonport dockyard (left to right, Amy Bowers, Tim Wicksteed, Pete Gillham, Mike Ormston & Jason Lockley)
With work on the Vanguard class vessel securing 1,000 jobs at Babcock in Devonport alone, Assystem Energy and Nuclear is representative of a number of other companies involved in ensuring that this nuclear deterrent will continue to operate safely and effectively for years to come once back at sea and operational.
Sitting out of the water in her specially converted dry dock, Assystem Energy and Nuclear were invited to step aboard the 150m (492ft) long vessel. HMS Vengeance, the last of her class to be refitted in Devonport is undergoing a complete overhaul of equipment, improvements to her missile launch capabilities and upgrades to the onboard computer systems. A new reactor core will also be fitted, a core that has been designed to last the submarine until she is finally decommissioned.
UK Trident Submarine – HMS Vengeance – Photo (RN)
As guests of the HMS Vengeance’s Assistant Marine Engineering Officer – Lieutenant Sam Gill RN, Assystem Energy and Nuclear Bristol based engineers couldn’t help but marvel at the size and complexity of the vessel as they set foot onto the submarine’s casing.
” It was great to be able to link the work I’ve been doing with the people who are operating the submarines on a day-to-day basis. The UK’s fleet of nuclear submarines have an excellent safety record and that has only been possible due to the combined efforts of the engineers who design them and the crews themselves, whose meticulous approach to maintenance ensures any problems are identified and dealt with swiftly.” – Tim Wicksteed (Assystem Energy and Nuclear Stress Engineer)
“It’s proved to be a very successful and rewarding day. Our engineers and designers work hard on lots of submarine projects, but not many of them ever get the opportunity to see where their bits of the puzzle fit into the incredibly large picture. I think it gives our guys a much greater sense of achievement to see their efforts up close” Jason Lockley (Assystem Energy and Nuclear Business Development Manager (ex Submariner))
“You don’t fully appreciate the density or diversity of the systems that are involved until you get to see them installed in an operational environment. It’s absolutely invaluable to talk to the teams that are involved with operating and maintaining the boat and to learn from their experiences”. Mike Ormston (Assystem Energy and Nuclear Principal EC&I Engineer)
Assystem Energy and Nuclear engineering consultancy specialises in mechanical and electrical design, structural integrity work and the generation of safety reports for many primary nuclear components onboard the UK’s existing submarine fleet. Assystem Energy and Nuclear are also involved with future submarine programmes as well as being heavily involved in the civil nuclear sector, supporting new build, maintenance and decommissioning activities.
Rear Admiral Simon Lister was quoted as saying “The highly sophisticated nature of the work involved in the deep maintenance of these magnificent vessels is testament to the experience and skills of the workforce in Devonport and those in the supply chain across the UK.” (BBC News, 26 March 2012)
One of Assystem Energy and Nuclear’s bright young engineering stars, who’s soon to finish her PhD said.
When you see the scale of the submarine and all the components involved it’s very impressive – it’s fantastic to get the opportunity to work on such projects. You only have to take a look at projects like this one and others that companies like ours are involved with to realise that we have great engineering talent in the UK. It’s amazing what we can achieve when we put our minds to it. . Amy Bowers (Assystem Energy and Nuclear Graduate Stress Engineer)
Assystem Energy and Nuclear would like to thank HMS Vengeance ship’s staff, especially MEO – Lt Cdr Shaun Southward RN & AMEO Lt Sam Gill RN for such an enlightening tour, and the interest shown in how the wider MoD Supply chain works to support the submarine programme.