Tag Archives: Astute

UK – Celebration for BAE Systems Barrow submarine’s christening

THE latest super sub to be built in Barrow has been christened during a dramatic naming ceremony.

Artful, the third Astute-class submarine, is set to take its first dip into the water at the beginning of next year, and yesterday, Royal Navy bosses, local dignitaries and cadets poured inside the Devonshire Dock Hall to witness the boat’s naming ceremony.

A small section of the hall was cordoned off with black and white voile curtains, with glimpses of the submarine visible from behind. As the ceremony began, the curtains fell one by one, to reveal the 7,400-tonne boat.

The naming was carried out by Amanda Lady Zambellas, wife of the Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas.

The symbolic smashing of a bottle of beer against the boat’s bow drew some gasps from the crowds as it failed to smash on the first attempt.

According to naval folklore, if the bottle fails to smash, the ship will be destined for an unlucky life at sea.

However, John Hudson, managing director of BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines in Barrow, was not concerned.

“I’m not at all superstitious,” he said smiling.

The 97-metre long submarine will be followed by a further four boats and preparation is continuing for the Royal Navy’s next fleet of submarines – a replacement for the Vanguard boats.

A final decision – known as “Main Gate” – is due to be made after the next general election, and both Mr Hudson and Rear Admiral Simon Lister are confident about the Successor programme.

Rear Admiral Lister, who visits the shipyard three times a month to monitor progress of the Astute programme, told the Evening Mail: “I am confident we will make a good proposal for Successor.

“We look forward to going to Main Gate and the final decision.”

Those who attended the ceremony, including many of the shipyard’s 5,000 workers, were treated to a performance by Ulverston Victoria High School’s Big Band.

Laughs were drawn from the crowd during a comical and staged discussion between two of the band’s singers, when one said to the other: “So I won’t tell anyone you’re a Russian spy!”

Many of the engineers, welders and technicians who have been involved in Artful’s build were able to watch the ceremony.

The creature on the boat’s crest, chosen in 1945 by the Admiralty’s advisor on heraldry for the first Artful, is  an unspecified species of primate.

Artful crew member Lieutenant  Aaron Williams, 24, from Bradford, explained: “When I did a little research into the crest, I found out that it was chosen to represent the quality of artfulness, monkeys having the reputation of being clever and resourceful creatures.”

Source – North West Evening Mail

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HMS Artful – Quay concerns delay launch of navy submarine

Nuclear safety watchdog bars launch of reactor-driven HMS Artful due to doubts about structural integrity of Barrow quay

HMS Astute

HMS Artful’s sister submarine Astute at the BAE Systems shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness.

The nuclear safety watchdog has blocked the launch of the Royal Navy’s newest reactor-driven submarine because of a risk that a dockside could collapse.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has barred the launch of HMS Artful, the third of Britain’s Astute-class hunter-killer submarines, because of doubts about the structural integrity of the wet dock quay at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

The submarine’s manufacturer, BAE Systems, had previously planned for a launch this year but now says it will be early next year. It said the problem with the dock would not cause further delays.

ONR raised its concerns in its quarterly report on the Barrow shipyard covering April to June 2013. It has ordered BAE Systems, as the site licensee, to investigate and report back on whether the dock was safe to use. “ONR placed a hold point on the launch of the next Astute-class submarine which will only be removed once the licensee can address and justify the continued use of the aging wet dock quay,” the report says.

According to ONR, the quay is used to help commission the Astute-class submarines. “Recent surveys have indicated that there may be some deterioration in its structure,” said an ONR spokeswoman. “As a result, the safety justification for use of this facility is being reviewed by BAE Systems to ensure that it remains valid. Until BAE Systems’ investigations have been completed, ONR cannot say whether there will need to be a major programme of work. However, in the interim, ONR has placed a hold on launch of the next submarine so that we will have to be satisfied that the structure remains fit for purpose.”

In a report about a visit to the Barrow yard by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in April, BAE Systems said Artful was due for launch this year. The first two submarines in the much-delayed £9.75bn fleet, HMS Astute and HMS Ambush, are at sea and another four are still being built.

A spokesperson for BAE Systems said: “We do not expect this to delay the launch of the next Astute-class submarine, which is scheduled for early next year. As always, if any work is required to the wet dock quay, safety will be a priority.”

Peter Burt, of the Nuclear Information Service, which monitors military activities, pointed out that much of Britain’s nuclear infrastructure was decades old. “It’s showing its age,” he said. “Hundreds of millions of pounds are being spent in secret each year as the Ministry of Defence struggles to bring ageing facilities up to modern safety standards, adding even more to the already enormous costs of the Trident replacement and Astute submarine programmes.”

Source –The Guardian

Revealed: Shock ‘Code Red’ safety report on British nuclear subs as fleet is hit by leaking, cracked reactors and lack of trained staff

  • Safety issues with UK’s nuclear subs and facilities used to repair missiles
  • Cracks in reactors and nuclear discharges found in Navy’s oldest boats
  • Nuclear-qualified engineers are quitting over poor pay and conditions
  • Experts described latest report as the most worrying they had seen

 

An official watchdog discovered major safety issues with both the UK’s nuclear-powered submarines and facilities used to repair nuclear missiles, raising the risk of a catastrophic accident involving radioactive material.

Last night, experts described the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator (DNSR) report for 2012-13 as the most worrying they had seen.

Leak: Tireless, the oldest submarine in the Royal Navy fleet, which entered service in 1984, suffered damage to its circuits earlier this year resulting in a radioactive leakCode Red: Tireless, the oldest submarine in the Royal Navy fleet, which entered service in 1984, suffered damage to its circuits earlier this year resulting in a radioactive leak

The document, obtained by this newspaper, reveals:

  • Cracks in reactors and nuclear discharges are directly attributable to the Royal Navy’s oldest Trafalgar Class SSNs (Ship Submarine Nuclear) remaining in service beyond their design date.
  • Faults with the new Astute Class submarines will delay their entry into service, forcing the Navy to continue sailing the ageing and potentially dangerous Trafalgars.
  • The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) failed to notice or rectify corrosion to a nuclear missile treatment plant in Berkshire.
  • Nuclear-qualified engineers are quitting the Navy in droves over poor pay and conditions, creating a skills crisis.

Head of the DNSR Dr Richard Savage wrote: ‘Significant and sustained attention is required to ensure maintenance of adequate safety performance and the rating [Red] reflects the potential impact if changes are ill-conceived or implemented.

 ‘The inability to sustain a sufficient number of nuclear suitably competent personnel is the principal threat to safety. Vulnerabilities exist in core skill areas, including safety, propulsion, power and naval architects.

HMS TIRELESS THE ‘KILLER SUB’

Two Submariners killed in an explosion aboard the HMS Tireless, 32-year-old Paul McCann (left) and 20-year-old Anthony HuntrodIn March 2007, sailors Anthony Huntrod, 20, (right) and Paul McCann, 32, (left)  were killed on HMS Tireless when a self-contained oxygen generator exploded during an Arctic exercise north of Alaska.

They died trapped in a small, smoke-filled compartment.

An inquest heard that there was a significant possibility the generator was salvaged from a hazardous waste depot in a cost-cutting bid  by the MoD.

‘Due to build delays with the Astute Class, there has been a requirement to extend the Trafalgar Class beyond their original design life in order to maintain the SSN flotilla at a fully operational level.

Some of the emergent technical issues affecting the Trafalgar Class over the last few years can be directly attributed to the effects of plant ageing.’

The report also raises concerns over whether the UK’s nuclear fleet and its inland nuclear establishments could withstand an earthquake on the same scale as the one that struck the Fukushima reactor plant in  Japan in 2011.

The document notes that facilities which form part of Britain’s Defence Nuclear Programme (DNP) require ‘continued priority attention’ to reach recommended safety standards.

Last night, nuclear expert John Large told The Mail on Sunday that the DNSR report revealed a crisis in Royal Navy nuclear safety.

He said: ‘This is the most self-damning and concerning report that I have seen. We’re talking about a ticking time-bomb, with a higher risk to the public and the environment than we previously feared.

‘The combination of a lack of nuclear engineers, the Astute submarines being so far behind schedule and the Trafalgar Class sailing beyond their design date is very worrying.

‘The Trafalgars, including HMS Tireless, the oldest boat of the class, should be withdrawn immediately.’

HMS Tireless, which entered service in 1984, suffered damage to  its circuits earlier this year resulting in a radioactive leak.

The nuclear sub was patrolling off South-West England when the problem arose, forcing its captain to return to Devonport. A more serious leak  was avoided because of swift remedial action.

Nuclear materials – including Trident missiles – are brought to the AWE’s site at Aldermaston, Berkshire, for assembly, maintenance and decommissioning.

Warning: There are also fears over the Aldermaston centre where Trident missiles are servicedWarning: There are also fears over the Aldermaston centre where Trident missiles are serviced

These processes include ‘uranium polishing’ – the removal of impurities from the material in order to extend its life cycle as a component in nuclear missiles.

The DNSR report states: ‘Inspection programmes have not been as comprehensive as regulators would expect.

As an example, corrosion in the structural supports of a building was not identified as early as would be expected which resulted in the Office for Nuclear Regulation issuing a Safety Improvement Notice.’

Last night the AWE admitted corrosion had affected its uranium component manufacturing facility, but added repairs had been completed.

An MoD spokesman said: ‘We would not operate any submarine unless it was safe to do so and this report acknowledges that we are taking  the necessary action to effectively manage the technical issues raised by the regulator.

‘It also highlights that the MoD is committed to maintaining expertise in submarine technology and operation – underlined by last month’s operational handover of the first two Astute Class submarines.’

Source – Daily Mail

UK – Work starts on sixth Astute submarine at Barrow

Agamemnon keel

The keel is the first part of a submarine to be built

A ceremony has been held at a Cumbrian shipyard to mark the start of work on the sixth of a fleet of seven new submarines for the Royal Navy.

The Astute-class vessel – a nuclear-powered attack submarine – is being built at BAE Systems in Barrow.

It has been officially named Agamemnon after the Greek mythological King, though it has not yet been constructed.

A keel laying ceremony took place at Devonshire Dock Hall.

Defence Equipment Minister Philip Dunne attended the ceremony and revealed the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had signed a new contract with BAE Systems.

The Barrow yard has been working on the Astute programme since 2001.

The other submarines are HMS Astute, Ambush, Artful, Audacious and Anson. The seventh will be named HMS Ajax.

Hard to detect

The keel for the first vessel – HMS Astute – was laid in January 2001 and the craft was launched in June 2007.

Mr Dunne said: “The keel-laying of Agamemnon and the handover of HMS Astute and HMS Ambush to the Royal Navy are huge milestones, reflecting significant progress in the programme.

“By ensuring the UK’s submarine programme remains affordable, this new contract will help deliver the Astute Class and secure around 5,000 jobs at BAE Systems and thousands more in over 400 suppliers across the UK submarine supply chain.”

The fleet of submarines will be based at Faslane in Scotland.

The Astute Class of vessels have greater firepower, state-of-the-art communications equipment and advanced stealth technology, making them quiet and harder to detect, according to the MoD.

Source – BBC News

UK – MPs back submarine building in Barrow

Workers at Barrow’s BAE Systems plant in front of an Astute class submarine

MPs and members of the House of Lords met to show their support for the UK’s submarine building industry, a key employer in the North West.

Politicians met with key figures in the industry and representatives of the supply chain and trade unions, who wanted to illustrate the chain of jobs that sten form submarine construction in areas like Barrow.

The event was supported by BAE Systems and the Keep Our Future Afloat Campaign, a trade union organisation which campaigns to keep high-tech jobs in the North West and across the UK.

Philip Dunne MP, minister for defence equipment, and Rt Hon Jim Murphy MP, Labour’s shadow secretary of state, were among those who spoke at the event to show their strong support for Britain’s submarine-based nuclear deterrent.

All the speakers paid tribute to the cutting edge work of the firms forming the supply chain for the Astute-class submarines, currently under construction in Barrow, and stressed the importance for these firms of the Vanguard replacement programme.

John Woodcock, MP for Barrow and Furness, who hosted the event said:

“It was fantastic to see so many MPs and peers from every corner of the country and all political parties coming to meet representatives of the firms and workers who form the supply chain for Britain’s cutting edge submarines. They will have been left in no doubt of the importance of the submarine programme to supporting British manufacturing and rebalancing the economy, as well as to securing Britain’s security – I hope they will bear this in mind when the time comes in 2016 to make a decision on renewing our at-sea nuclear deterrent.

“I am particularly grateful for the strong political support given to the submarine programme by government and opposition frontbenchers, Philip Dunne and Jim Murphy, in their speeches – the 1,200 firms in the supply chain will have taken heart from what they both said.”

Source – ITV News

No British submarines to patrol Falkland Islands

THE Navy is finding it “increasingly difficult” to deploy a nuclear hunter-killer submarine to patrol British waters around the Falkland Islands.

The-HMS-Tireless-is-out-of-actionThe HMS Tireless is out of action

Senior sources made the warning last night, three weeks after the Sunday Express reported exclusively that the forced return of HMS Tireless means that just one of Britain’s five Trafalgar-class submarines is fully operational and even that is about to undergo a brief period of maintenance after duties in the Middle East.

Submarines proved their effectiveness in the Falklands War when HMS Conqueror sank the General Belgrano. However, the Conqueror was decommissioned in 1990 and the hunter-killer fleet is “now well beyond its sell-by date”.

I have always argued that we need to have a submarine on permanent deployment in the South Atlantic but this was reduced to occasional deployment. Now we seem not able to do that, either.

Admiral Sandy Woodward

Last night Admiral Sandy Woodward, who led the Task Force to recapture the islands in 1982, called the situation “very worrying”. He said: “I have always argued that we need to have a submarine on permanent deployment in the South Atlantic but this was reduced to occasional deployment. Now we seem not able to do that, either.”

Hunter-killer submarines are needed to carry out vital duties, including protecting Britain’s Trident missile-carrying Vanguard submarines which patrol the North Atlantic.

However, HMS Torbay is undergoing maintenance, HMS Trenchant will need servicing after its deployment in the Middle East, HMS Talent is awaiting decommissioning and HMS Triumph, which should have been decommissioned last year, is being used for training .

HMS Astute, the first of our new £1.2billion Astute class submarines, is still not fully operational.

Tireless, dubbed HMS Tired, was forced to return to base last month due to a coolant leak in its nuclear reactor. Sources suggest it could be out of action for 10 months.

Last night naval sources suggested the likelihood of an Argentine seaborne invasion was “almost non-existent”. However, submarines have long been regarded as the “secret weapon of ultimate deterrence” against Argentine aggression.

Details of their deployment are never made public but last year Navy sources let it be known when HMS Talent was sent to the islands to put a lid on any threat of Argentine aggression during the 30th anniversary of the conflict.

The Navy aims to send a hunter-killer nuclear submarine to South Atlantic waters at least twice in 12 months.

Last night former First Sea Lord Admiral Lord West said Britain is “now paying the price” for the 10-year delay in ordering the Astute-class replacements.

“Even when they come on line fully, we will not have the eight submarines which, I believe, is the minimum number we should have in our locker to undertake the tasks required.”

Last night a Ministry of Defence spokesman said there were contingency plans to increase the military footprint in the South Atlantic if required but there was no suggestion of any need to do this at present.

Source – The Express

Barrow built submarine due to be commissioned into Royal Navy today

HMS Ambush off Rhu spit near Faslane

BARROW-built Ambush is due to officially join the Royal Navy today.

A commissioning ceremony will take place at Faslane naval base on the Clyde where the 7,400-tonne sub will officially become “Her Majesty’s Ship”, or HMS Ambush. The second Astute-class attack submarine was launched in January 2011 at BAE Systems shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. The nuclear-powered submarine arrived at her home port of HM Naval Base Clyde in September last year where she has undergone extensive sea trials. Ambush is 97 metres-long and holds around 100 personnel. She travels at a speed of up to 30 knots.

Source – North West Evening mail