Tag Archives: HMS Tireless

HMS Tireless returns to Plymouth for the final time before being decommissioned

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • HMS Tireless returning to Devonport Naval Base this evening. Picture by Nick Copson.

  • HMS Tireless returning to Devonport Naval Base this evening. Picture by Nick Copson.

  • HMS Tireless returning to Devonport Naval Base this evening. Picture by Nick Copson.

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • HMS Tireless returning to Devonport Naval Base this evening. Picture by Nick Copson.

NUCLEAR-powered Royal Navy submarine HMS Tireless has returned home to Plymouth for the last time.

The service’s longest serving nuclear-powered hunter killer sub is due to be decommissioned after nearly 30 years of service.

The vessel, base ported in Devonport, operated as one of the Cold War “warriors”, a Navy spokesman said.

“Out of sight and mind, she deployed for long, secret and often dangerous missions out into the Atlantic,” he added. “She patrolled for months at a time searching for and stalking her enemies.

“Renowned for her stealth and many successes she enjoys a strong reputation to this day.”

The sub returned home tonight after completing the first deployment by a Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine to Australia in seven years.

HMS Tireless had also been assisting in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

HMS Tireless was launched in 1984 and commissioned a year later.

She surfaced at the North Pole in 1991, 2004 and 2006, and between 2010 and 2011 took part in a 10-month deployment, the longest continuous deployment by a UK nuclear-powered submarine up to that date.

This year she has been on East of Suez deployment, which included her searching for Flight MH370.

Source – Plymouth Herald

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British nuclear submarine ‘surfaces off Gibraltar’ as row with Spain heats up

Witnesses said  they saw the submarine surface on Saturday

  • Believe sub is  HMS Tireless but officials refuse to confirm sighting
  • Comes days  after Royal Navy warship HMS Westminster arrived

A British nuclear submarine has reportedly  been spotted off the Gibraltar coast.

Witnesses said they saw the vessel surface on  Saturday as tensions between Spain and Britain continue to rise over fishing  rights around the Mediterranean enclave.

The sighting comes days after Royal Navy  warship HMS Westminster arrived in Gibraltar.

Witnesses say a British nuclear submarine, believed to be HMS Tireless (pictured), surfaced off GibraltarWitnesses say a British nuclear submarine, believed to  be HMS Tireless (pictured), surfaced off Gibraltar

The Ministry of Defence refused to confirm or  deny today if a nuclear submarine is currently stationed at the enclave.

 A spokeswoman said if it was in Gibraltar  then it was for ‘routine business’.

The Sun quoted an ‘insider’ as saying: ‘There  is only one reason a submarine breaks the surface – and that is to be spotted.

Last time the Trafalgar-class sub docked by the Rock it provoked anger and protests from activists (pictured) Last time the Trafalgar-class sub docked by the Rock it  provoked anger and protests from activists (pictured)

‘These things do not show themselves unless  they want to be seen.’

The website shipspotting.com reported that  HMS Tireless – a Trafalgar-class nuclear submarine – was seen in Gibraltar in Z  Berth last month.

Local news in Gibraltar reported that HMS  Tireless sailed into the area last month for a ‘short stay as part of (the  submarine’s scheduled operational tasking’.

If confirmed, it will be the first time the  nuclear submarine has docked in the contested region since 2004.

The docking of HMS Tireless, which is due to  be decommissioned this year, sparked protests from Spanish activist nine years  ago – the same year as the 300th  anniversary of the capture of Gibraltar from Spain.

The submarine caused diplomatic tensions  between Britain and Spain once again in 2000 when it docked in Gibraltar for a  year after the submarine developed a serious leak in the nuclear reactor primary  cooling circuit.

Another Trafalgar-class submarine, HMS  Talent, stopped in Gibraltar this year and the enclave’s first minister Fabian  Picardo and his deputy Dr Joseph Garcia were given a tour.

Tensions between the two countries have  ramped up this year over fishing rights.

Gibraltar’s creation of an artificial reef  with concrete blocks has provoked fury from Spanish fisherman, which they say  blocks their access to certain waters.

Spanish police were criticised last week when  they unfurled a Spanish flag during an inspection of the reef.

Spanish police were criticised recently after they held up a Spanish flag Spanish police were criticised recently after they held  up a Spanish flag during an inspection of an artificial reef that has caused  anger among fishermen

Gibraltar accused the police of violating  ‘British sovereignty’ by attempting to exercise jurisdiction in its  territory.

Last week, a fleet of almost 40 boats sailed  into British waters to demand the reef be removed.

Spain has also increases border checks,  leading to long queues for workers and tourists entering Gibraltar.

The Gibraltar government has tried in recent  days to defuse tensions by proposing a change in local law to let the Spanish  resume fishing in parts of the sea near the Rock.

Source –   Daily Mail

Falklands War Admiral Sandy Woodward dies aged 81

Admiral Sandy Woodward at his home in Wimbledon in 1992

Adm Woodward was described as a “modern-day hero” by Falkland Islanders

An admiral who led Britain’s task force in the 1982 Falklands War has died after a long illness, aged 81, his daughter has told the BBC.

Adm Sir Sandy Woodward was commander of the carrier force sent by PM Margaret Thatcher to retake the Falklands.

He served as deputy chief of the defence staff from 1985 and was promoted to admiral in 1987.

David Cameron said the UK was “indebted” to Adm Woodward for his role in ensuring freedom for islanders.

“The admiral was a truly courageous and decisive leader, proven by his heroic command of the Royal Navy Taskforce during the Falklands conflict,” said the prime minister.

“We are indebted to him for his many years of service and the vital role he played to ensure that the people of the Falkland Islands can still today live in peace and freedom. My thoughts and prayers are with Adm Woodward’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

‘Inspirational leadership’

Daniel Allan, founder of the Falklands United Movement, which represents some islanders, said he was a “modern-day hero”.

“We owe him a debt of gratitude and he is in the thoughts of every islander, past and present, today,” he said.

A look back at the life and career of Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward (R)

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said he would be remembered as the “Fighting Admiral”.

“Adm Woodward served his country with distinction throughout his career,” he said.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas said: “Undaunted by the challenge of fighting a capable enemy over 8,000 miles from the UK, in the most demanding and extreme of weather conditions, and against uncertain odds, Admiral Woodward’s inspirational leadership and tactical acumen – meshing the realities of the higher political command at home with the raw and violent fight at sea – was a major factor in shaping the success of the British forces in the South Atlantic.

Analysis

image of Caroline Wyatt
Caroline Wyatt Defence correspondent, BBC News


A tall plain-speaking man, Adm Woodward will be best remembered in the Falklands – briefing his men with a blunt statement as they deployed: “People will die, ships will be lost, that’s the deal. Go to it.”

He made clear that, as a leader, it was more important to be respected than liked, writing that: “A truly good leader should seek respect and regard any liking simply as profit.”

It was Adm Woodward who wanted to torpedo the Argentine ship the Belgrano because of the threat he believed it posed to British forces, even though it was outside the exclusion zone when sunk – a decision agreed by Margaret Thatcher.

He did not regret the move, saying Britain never realised how close it came to losing the war.

After retirement, Adm Woodward continued to speak out for the navy, angered by the scrapping of the UK’s aircraft carriers and the Sea Harriers, which had proved so vital in retaking the Falklands.

He described the decision as appalling, and warned the UK would no longer be able to retake the islands as it did more than 30 years ago.

“Highly regarded and widely respected within the military, he will be sorely missed and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Sukey Cameron, the Falkland Islands’ government representative in the UK, tweeted: “Sad to learn of the death of Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward; remembering with gratitude the important part he played in #Falklands Liberation.”

Adm Woodward was born John Woodward in Penzance, Cornwall, on 1 May 1932, according to the Who’s Who database.

He trained at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, joining the navy in 1946 at the age of 13, and quickly rising through the ranks to command submarines.

During his time serving in submersibles, Adm Woodward married Charlotte Mary McMurtrie in 1960 and they had a son and a daughter.

When Argentina invaded the British overseas territory of the Falkland Islands on 2 April 1982, he was a newly appointed rear admiral and acted as commander of the Carrier Battle Group from the flagship HMS Hermes.

Three days later the first British task force ships left Britain, and by 14 June, following a number of key battles, the British had liberated the capital, Port Stanley.

Among the most controversial actions of the British during the war was the sinking of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano, killing 368 crew.

BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said Adm Woodward had wanted to torpedo the ship because of the threat he believed it posed to British forces, even though it was outside the exclusion zone when sunk – a decision agreed by Mrs Thatcher.

During the conflict, an estimated 600 Argentines were killed along with 255 UK servicemen and three Falklands civilians.

Knighthood

Adm Woodward, who also went on to be the Flag Aide-de Camp to the Queen, was knighted for his service in the Falklands campaign in 1983.

He retired in 1989 but never forgot his time in the Falklands, later writing a book titled One Hundred Days on his experiences and chairing the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel Trust, which raised money to build a chapel in Pangbourne, Berkshire, in memory of those who had died.

“Start Quote

I found her [Margaret Thatcher] to be the best top executive I’d ever met”

End Quote Adm Woodward April 2013

Robert Fox, defence editor of the London Evening Standard, said Adm Woodward had to take “some of the biggest risks of any commander in modern British history”.

“He knew how to take risks… the lack of air cover, the way the whole thing was conducted against the unknown – it would simply be deemed as unacceptable by Westminster today,” he said.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph earlier this year, Adm Woodward described working with Mrs Thatcher between 1985 and 1987, when he was the head of defence staff operations and would attend cabinet meetings.

He said their relationship was one of mutual respect, describing Mrs Thatcher as “the best top executive I’d ever met”.

In June 2011 Adm Woodward wrote in the Daily Mail that he feared the Falkland Islands were “now perilously close to being indefensible”.

“Twenty-nine years ago today, we reclaimed the Falklands for Britain in one of the most remarkable campaigns since the Second World War,” he wrote.

“The simple truth is without aircraft carriers and without the Americans, we would not have any hope of doing the same again today.”

And in written evidence to the Commons Defence Committee in May of this year, he warned Britain would be unable to defend itself if cuts to the navy continued to be made.

Source – BBC News

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

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

HMS Tireless returns to Plymouth after reactor leak

HMS Tireless

HMS Tireless will undergo repairs in Plymouth

 

The Devon-based submarine HMS Tireless has returned to Plymouth after a leak in its nuclear reactor.

The Royal Navy said the small leak of coolant was contained within the reactor compartment of the Trafalgar-class hunter-killer vessel.

The navy said that the incident “posed no risk to the public, the environment or the crew”.

It added it was not yet known how long the repairs to the 28-year-old vessel would take.

Analysis

Scott Bingham Business reporter, BBC Spotlight


While HMS Tireless has had its fair share of problems, the Royal Navy has been able to keep the boat in sufficient shape to remain part of the UK’s armed forces for nearly 30 years.

The vessel is expected to be decommissioned this year.

The navy openly admits that it and four sister vessels still in service were “designed as Cold War warriors” and are now having to adapt to the demands of the 21st Century.

Any problem with any vessel’s nuclear systems must be treated very seriously, but those systems are completely contained in a sealed compartment.

There are also safety procedures in place to prevent radioactivity from leaking out of the vessel.

This, coupled with the fact the submarine has always come back to its base in a city populated by 250,000 people, shows the service is confident such situations can be kept safely under control.

It is the latest in a series of incidents that have affected the submarine.

In 2007, two mechanics died on board when a self-contained oxygen generator exploded while the vessel was under the North Pole.

The vessel was sailing under an ice pack 170 miles (275km) north of Deadhorse, in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, when the accident happened.

In 2000, a fault was discovered on board which then forced 12 hunter-killer nuclear submarines in the UK’s fleet to undergo intensive inspections.

The submarine became stranded in Gibraltar in May of the same year with a leak in pipe work leading from the nuclear reactor system.

It was there for nearly a year while repairs were carried out, putting a strain on relations with Spain, and drawing criticism from environmentalists.

In May 2003, it was taken to Scotland for repairs prompting a Ministry of Defence inquiry after it collided with an object at sea.

Source – BBC News

Troubled Trafalgar class nuclear submarine, HMS Tireless, in new reactor coolant leak

HMS Tireless was the third of the Trafalgar class hunter-killer nuclear submarines. These are not nuclear armed but nuclear powered and conventionally armed.

Tireless was launched in 1985 and, at  28 years old, was due to be decommissioned this year. However, her service was extended for another four years due to the delay in the rollout of the new Astute class submarines.

Ten days ago, Tireless was taking part in a training exercise for new officers off the west coast, when a coolant leak developed within its sealed reactor unit. The Ministry of Defence has said that no risk was involved  to the public the environment or the crew.

Tireless was ordered back to the Faslane naval base on the Clyde where engineers inspected the leak; and then returned to her home base at Devonport.

She is said to face up to 10 months in dry dock while repair work is carried out.

Tireless is most famous for a series of troubling incidents.

She collided with an iceberg at 60 metres down on 13th May 2003 [it would have been the 13th]. This was the first return of the navy to under-ice operations since 1996. Neither her passive sonar nor other onboard sensors had given any warning of the proximity of the iceberg.  Tireless’s bow was forced down 9 degrees and she subsequently broke free of the iceberg at a depth of 78 metres. Some damage was done to her upper section.

She suffered an earlier leak  of her reactor coolant , in May 2000 in the Mediterranean. This saw her nuclear propulsion system shut down, with backup diesel power getting her into Gibraltar. She spent a year there under extensive repairs,  becoming the focus of serious diplomatic strain.

In March 2007, on deployment back in the Arctic, it was Tireless that had an internal explosion  in her forward section – later found to be caused by a defective or obsolete oxygen candle.This killed two of her crew – Leading Operator Mechanic Paul McCann; and Operator Maintainer (Weapons Submariner) 2 Anthony Huntrod.

Following the current incident, there is real concert that the cost of the failures experienced by  the new Astute hunter-killers – in forcing the extension of the lives of ageing Trafagar class submarines like Tireless – may be asking the impossible or the dangerous.

The problems in with commissioning of the Astute submarines are having a knock on effect on the nuclear safety of the older Tralfalgar hunter-killers that were due for decommissioned.

This latest reactor coolant leak is seen as potential evidence that this ship is actually reaching the end of her life. It may be that she has to be decommissioned and will not emerge from the extensive repair period now necessary.

Her preceding two siblings – class leader, HMS Trafalgar and HMS Turbulent have already been decommissioned, Tralfalgar in 2009 and Turbulent in JUly last year, 2012.

The current incident has reduced the hunter-killer fleet to a maximum of five instead of the recommended seven plus a spare needed to carry out vital duties, including protecting the UK’s Trident missile-carrying Vanguard submarines.

Of those five, Astute, Britain’s brand new £1.2billion attack submarine which – gloriously – ran aground in 2010 for the ultimate photo opportunity – just beside the Skye Bridge –  is still not fully operational. One other, possibly two, are in maintenance.

This latest incident comes just weeks after the Clyde-based Trident submarine,  HMS Vigilant ,was stranded in the US after its rudder broke, just after her £350million refit.

The leak will also fuel the heated political debate about nuclear submarines operating in Scottish waters.

Last night, local MSP, Michael Russell MSP for Argyll and Bute, called on the Ministry of Defence to clarify exactly what had happened. He said: “This is the latest in a long line of alarming incidents involving nuclear submarines off the coast of Scotland. ‘

Andy Smith of the UK National Defence Association, says: ‘The problems with HMS Tireless illustrate the folly of trying to have ‘defence on the cheap’ and failing to upgrade or replace equipment due to political short-sightedness and a defence policy dictated by the treasury rather than the military.’

Source – For Argyll