Tag Archives: HMS Artful

Reactor incidents on new nuclear subs double in one year

Astute-class submarines HMS Artful (left) and HMS Astute (right), at HM Naval Base Clyde, also known as Faslane. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday January 20, 2016. See PA story DEFENCE Trident. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wir

Astute-class submarines HMS Artful (left) and HMS Astute (right), at HM Naval Base Clyde, also known as Faslane.

The Royal Navy’s new nuclear-powered submarines have been plagued by 69 safety incidents and “near misses” over the last four years.

The Astute class of submarines based at Faslane on the Clyde has seen reported reactor incidents at sea or on shore almost double from 12 in 2014 to 21 in 2015. Though the MoD insists that the incidents are all minor, critics warn that they undermine the boats’ reliability and safety.

The first submarine of the class, HMS Astute, has already been out on operations, and the second, HMS Ambush, was launched in 2011. The third, HMS Artful, was formally handed over to the Royal Navy in December 2015.
The four remaining Astute submarines are either still being built by the defence firm BAE Systems at its Barrow shipyard, or are due to be built there. The construction programme has been subject to a series of delays and cost overruns.

The Ministry of Defence revealed the number of safety events recorded with Astute submarine reactors between January 2012 and January 2016 in response to a request under freedom of information law. There were an average of more than 17 a year, or one every three weeks.

Reported events are not detailed. But they included “any occurrence that has, or could have, led to a reduction in nuclear or radiation safety or that provides an opportunity for operator experience feedback.”

According to the independent nuclear engineer John Large, the submarines were suffering serious problems. “This continuing experience of the Astute class reactor problems not only imperils the boats when at sea but is likely to result in cutbacks to the number of patrols, voyage durations and the extent of roaming of the high seas,” he said.
John Ainslie, coordinator of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, pointed out that Astute submarines had been involved in a series of mishaps, including running aground on the Isle of Skye. “It is only a matter of time before one of these incidents results in a serious nuclear accident,” he said.

An MoD spokeswoman said: “In line with our high safety standards, we record all incidents regardless of how minor they are, to ensure lessons are learnt. There are no issues with the safety of the submarines and the MoD has safely operated over 80 nuclear reactor cores since 1963.”

Story – Herald Scotland

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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

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