Tag Archives: HMS Astute

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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Wife of shot submariner Ian Molyneux accepts Elizabeth Cross – Video Clip

 Click on picture for video clip

Gillian Molyneux says Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux would have wanted to “protect” his fellow submariners when he was shot.

The widow of a naval officer who was shot dead by a junior rating on board a nuclear submarine has been awarded a medal to mark her loss.

Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux was killed by Able Seaman Ryan Donovan while HMS Astute was docked in Southampton in 2011.

Gillian Molyneux was given the Elizabeth Cross, which is awarded to servicemen’s next-of-kin and women killed on duty, at a ceremony in Wigan.

She said it was a “recognition” of what she and her four children had lost.

Mrs Molyneux, who lives in Standish, said the medal was one “no next-of-kin ever wishes to receive” but it recognised her family lost “through Ian’s dedication to the Royal Navy, Queen and country”.

“I lost my soul mate when Ian died and our children lost a wonderful daddy,” she said.

“I will always take great pride in my husband, his heroic actions on the day of his death and the submarine service and all it stands for.”

She added she was accepting the medal “with deep sorrow and immense pride”.

‘Incalculably brave’

Mrs Molyneux, who wore the posthumous George Medal awarded to her husband during the ceremony, was presented with the medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester at Wigan Town Hall.

Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux
Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux was posthumously awarded the George Medal for his actions on board HMS Astute

 

During the ceremony, Regional Naval Cdr Commodore Dickie Baum said Lt Cdr Molyneux had been one of the Navy’s brightest prospects and a role model to future submariners.

“At all times he set an example, displaying his high moral standards and leadership,” he said.

“It was typical that when a crisis arose in HMS Astute involving an armed sailor who had begun shooting indiscriminately for reasons that have never been fully explained, Ian was the first to react to the noise and commotion.

“Ian acted with complete disregard for his own safety and made the ultimate sacrifice – his actions were incalculably brave.”

Ryan Donovan admitted murdering Lt Cdr Molyneux and was jailed for life at Winchester Crown Court in September 2011.

Source – BBC News

Ex-Barrow submariner Craig launches charity night for naval fund

A FORMER submariner is working hard in a bid to create a  night to support a naval charity.

Craig Palmer with a football signed by Manchester City players which is among the items to be auctioned at the charity night to raise money for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity. Craig was inspired to help the fund after seeing its work supporting the family of Ian Molyneux, inset, who was killed onboard HMS Astute

Craig Palmer with a football signed by Manchester City players which is among the items to be auctioned at the charity night to raise money for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity. Craig was inspired to help the fund after seeing its work supporting the family of Ian Molyneux, inset, who was killed onboard HMS Astute

Craig Palmer, 24, is organising a fundraising night in aid of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

Mr Palmer, who served onboard HMS Vigilant, said he was inspired to organise the event after his experiences serving in the forces and after seeing the support the charity provided to the family of Ian Molyneux, who died after being shot onboard HMS Astute in 2011.

Mr Palmer has already secured an array of donations set to be auctioned off at the charity night due to be held at the Nines, in Barrow, on June 20, including a signed Manchester City football, a signed Barrow AFC shirt and a bottle of House of Commons whisky.

He said: “I had friends who were onboard HMS Ambush and were injured in the shootings in 2011.

“This is my way of giving a bit back to the forces. I’ve seen firsthand how this charity can help people.

“A friend of mine died and his kids don’t have a dad. This charity helps his family but this family gives it away to so many people – it’s unbelievable.”

Craig Palmer served aboard HMS Vigilant

Craig Palmer served aboard HMS Vigilant

Mr Palmer is also hoping to put a new Mini Cooper up for grabs via a reverse auction which is due to launch at the fundraiser evening and end on December 20 with the winner named in time for some festive fun behind the wheel.

Along with the charity auction and launch of the reverse auction Mr Palmer said there will be performances from Take That tribute act Rule The World and local bands Paper Cranes and Jumbo Jamz.

Mr Palmer also said he is set to give away 50 tickets to current forces personnel.

More details about tickets are set to be released in the coming weeks

Source – North West Evening Mail

 

Verdict – Royal Navy officer ‘unlawfully killed’ in submarine shooting

Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux, who was shot dead

Father-of-four Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux was shot in the head at close range

A navy officer was unlawfully killed by a junior rating on board a nuclear submarine, a coroner has said.

Able Seaman Ryan Donovan, 23, shot Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux, 36, of Wigan, Greater Manchester, at close range on HMS Astute in Southampton.

He had been on a two-day drinking binge before the attack in April 2011.

Recording a narrative verdict, Coroner Keith Wiseman said he would recommend that random breath testing for Royal Navy personnel be implemented.

Donovan was jailed for life in September 2011 with a minimum term of 25 years after pleading guilty at Winchester Crown Court to the murder of the father-of-four.

The 23-year-old, of Hillside Road, also admitted the attempted murders of Lt Cdr Hodge, 45, Petty Officer Christopher Brown, 36, and Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, 37.

Vodka and cocktails

Mr Wiseman said a culture of drinking to excess had to stop, and a system of alcohol testing prior to duty should be introduced.

// Captain Phil Buckley said the Royal Navy had “learnt lessons”

The inquest at Southampton Civic Centre heard Donovan had drunk more than 20 pints of cider and lager over two days prior to the attack.

He had also drunk vodka and cocktails before being put on guard duty with a gun while more than three times above the alcohol limit for driving.

Tests revealed Donovan’s blood would have contained 139mg of alcohol per 100ml – 76% above the drink-drive limit.

Police investigating the murder were so concerned about binge drinking by the crew while ashore, that the senior officer wrote to Hampshire Constabulary Chief Constable Alex Marshall to highlight the issue and it was passed to military authorities.

The Royal Navy has since tightened its rules on alcohol consumption before duty.

At the time sailors were allowed 10 units in 24-hours with no alcohol in the 10 hours before duty. This has now been changed to five units.

Source – BBC News

Binge drinking on submarine shocks police investigating fatal shooting

Ian Molyneux inquest

Royal Navy Commander Iain Breckenridge leaves the inquest in Southampton after giving evidence into the death of Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux.

Ryan Donovan had drunk 20 pints, as well as cocktails and vodkas, before he was put on a duty with a gun, hearing told

Police investigating a naval rating shooting dead an officer on board a submarine were so alarmed by the crew’s binge drinking that the chief constable was informed and he then contacted military authorities, an inquest has heard.

Detective Superintendent Tony Harris interviewed the crew aboard HMS Astute following the shooting of Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux by Able Seaman Ryan Donovan, who was 76% above the drink-drive limit.

The hearing in Southampton was told the officer was “highly alarmed” by the crew’s alcohol consumption and he wrote to the Hampshire chief constable, Alex Marshall, with his concerns. His boss then contacted Brigadier Neil Baverstock.

After talking to the crew, detectives concluded that Donovan’s drink intake was not out of the ordinary.

The hearing previously heard he had drunk 20 pints of cider and lager, cocktails and double vodkas in the 48 hours before he was put on a guard duty with a gun.

Richard Wilkinson, counsel for Lt Cdr Molyneux’s family, told the hearing police found significant numbers of the crew were involved in getting “drunk out of their minds”.

“Detective Superintendent Tony Harris was highly alarmed at the alcohol consumption of the Astute’s crew and he took the unprecedented action of writing to the chief constable.

“It was normal practice for the crew of the boat to drink heavily while on shore leave, consuming alcohol over an extended period until they passed out and then returned to duty after five or six hours,” he told the hearing.

The Royal Navy has since tightened its rules on alcohol consumption before duty.

At the time sailors were allowed 10 units in the previous 24 hours with no alcohol in the 10 hours before duty, which has been changed to five units.

Wilkinson asked the nuclear-powered sub’s captain at the time, Commander Iain Breckenbridge, whether he had any concerns about his crew drinking ashore during the goodwill visit to Southampton in April 2011 when the killing and the shooting of another officer took place.

He told the inquest he had been told of no concerns about the crew and he had no concerns about Donovan before the shootings and he was surprised to hear of the police’s fears of binge drinking by the crew.

But when asked if tighter controls should be put in place to check such as breathalysing crew, Cdr Breckenbridge said: “To minimise the chances of a similar event, it’s something that should be seriously considered but that’s for the policy-makers.”

The inquest continues.

Source – The Guardian

MOD Releases Funds for More Astute Class Submarines

audacious-half-complete

Fourth Astute class submarine, Audacious, under construction in the Devonshire Dock Hall. Photo: BAE Systems

The UK MOD has committed £2.7 billion for continued work on the Royal Navy future attack submarines. The programme, which has been beset by difficulties since it was commissioned in 1997, is expected to cost up to £10bn for a seven-submarine fleet that is already years late.

The lead submarine of this new class, HMS Astute had suffered technical problems that raised questions about the performance and reliability of the boat. Last November, the Guardian revealed that during sea trials, HMS Astute, the lead ship of this new class, has been unable to reach its intended top speed. Other problems that have affected the boat in recent months include:

  • Flooding during a routine dive that led to Astute performing an emergency surfacing.
  • Corrosion even though the boat is essentially new.
  • The replacement or moving of computer circuit boards because they did not meet safety standards.
  • Concern over the instruments monitoring the nuclear reactor because the wrong type of lead was used.
  • Questions being raised about the quality and installation of other pieces of equipment.
  • Concern reported among some crew members about the Astute’s pioneering periscope, that does not allow officers to look at the surface “live”.

On Friday, October 22, 2010, Tug boats moved in to assist HMS Astute after it ran aground in shallow water off the Isle of Skye, Scotland. The sub ran into trouble near the Isle of Skye during a routine maneuver that included dropping some sailors ashore, according to reports. During the operation to tow Astute clear, there was a collision between the rescue tug and the submarine, which resulted in damage to her starboard foreplane. The submarine returned under her own power to Faslane, where the damage incurred in the grounding and afterwards was described as “minor”.

HMS_Astute_Anglian_Prince_Skye

Astute aground with the emergency tow vessel Anglian Prince

According to the new contract announced last week, MOD awarded BAE Systems a contract worth £1.2bn for Audacious, the fourth submarine in the Astute class. The full contract covers the design, build, test and commissioning programme. First steel was cut in 2007 and Audacious is at an advanced stage of construction at BAE Systems’ site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

Astute_and_Dauntless650

HMS Astute seen along HMS Dauntless on one of her recent missions. Photo: MOD

The MoD also confirmed that a further £1.5bn has been committed to the Astute programme for the remaining three submarines in the class, which includes early build work on boat 5 HMS Anson, whose keel was laid in October 2011.

Planning for Audacious began in 2007 and her keel was laid at Barrow in March 2009, according to the Royal Navy website. The submarine will benefit from improvements identified during building of HMS Astute (commissioned 27 August 2010), HMS Ambush (currently on sea trials, launched at 5 January 2011) and HMS Artful (keel laid down 11 March 2005). Three more submarines are planned in the future, orders had been made for 2; HMS Anson (under construction, ordered March 2010, keel laid down 13 October 2011), HMS Agamemnon (ordered March 2010) and HMS Ajax (confirmed but not yet ordered).

Source – Defence update

Full details of submarine fatal shooting to be heard

Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux

Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux

THE details of how a hero sailor was killed in a shooting on a nuclear submarine docked in Southampton will be heard today.

A two-week inquest into the death of Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux on board HMS Astute last April will be held at Southampton Coroner’s Court.

The 36-year-old father-of-four this year posthumously received the George Medal – the second highest civilian award for gallantry, belowthe George Cross.

As reported, he was killed when he ignored the obvious risk to his own safety as he tried to stop Able Seaman Ryan Donovan, who had begun shooting a semiautomatic rifle on board the submarine while it was on a formal visit to Southampton.

Ryan Donovan

Ryan Donovan

The officer, with 20 years of experience in the Navy, was shot in the side of the head at point blank range as he rushed towards the gunman, who had been acting as sentry on the vessel.

Donovan was eventually overpowered by the then leader of Southampton City Council Royston Smith and chief executive Alistair Neill, who had been on a civic tour of the submarine.

In September last year, Donovan was sentenced to at least 25 years behind bars after admitting the murder of Lt-Cdr Molyneux, and the attempted murder of two other officers

 Winchester Crown Court heard Donovan was as an “immature” fan of violent computer games and gangster rap who failed to cope with the stresses of cramped submarine life.

Despite spending four years in the Royal Navy, the then-22- year-old able seaman was said to have struggled to deal with the strict authority of the armed services and resented those he believed had unfairly targeted him.

Under the nickname “Reggie Moondog”, Donovan, from Dartford, Kent, wrote rap songs with lyrics about guns and killing, including a reference to the SA80 rifle he was to later use on his murderous rampage.

The court heard Donovan had repeatedly spoken of his desire to kill, and just hours before his terrifying gun frenzy he told a colleague he would shoot someone that day – advising him to “watch the news” later.

Donovan was said to suffer no mental illness, and far from being a crazed loner, was popular with many friends, relatives and colleagues, but saw “no way out”

of his predicament.

Angry at missing out on a draft to another ship after getting into trouble and facing military imprisonment for refusing orders over cleaning duty, he decided to kill the officers he held responsible.

He waited two days for the chance to murder Petty Officer Christopher Brown and Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, after which he planned to turn the gun on himself.

But his revenge mission failed when his shots missed the officers, and courageous Lt-Cdr Molyneux, from Wigan, Lancashire, made his fatal intervention.

Source – Daily Echo