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NI Cumbria Branch visit Nuclear Submarines at BAE Systems Shipyard

On Wednesday 24th September 2014 the Nuclear Institute Cumbria branch visited the BAE Systems Shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness for an opportunity to find out more about the work conducted on the site where nuclear submarines are constructed for the UK Royal Navy.

Matt Aukett, Events Sub-Committee Chair from Cumbria Branch, reported his highlights from the visit:

"We started off with an introductory talk on BAE’s activities with the current Astute Fast Attack Submarine construction programme and the Successor Programme. The Successor Programme will replace the UK’s current generation of ballistic missile carrying submarines (the Vanguard Class) and provide the UK’s nuclear deterrent into the middle of the 21st century. The first new submarine is scheduled to enter service in 2028.

"From a nuclear perspective, it was a real treat to hear about the reactor build process. There is a very complicated process associated with assembling the Pressurised Water Reactors, supplied by Rolls Royce, into the Submarine hull and bringing the reactor through power trials. This has to be completed before handover to the Royal Navy for sea trials. Initial work is being carried out for the reactor system on the Successor boats and there are many challenges being faced with integrating a new generation reactor into them.

"Not only do the BAE team encounter engineering challenges, but also safety case challenges, since this conventional shipyard is integrated with a highly complex and dynamic nuclear site. BAE Systems' business is first and foremost in the construction and delivery of commercial warships to the Royal Navy but, in nuclear submarine construction, there is the added complexity of being a nuclear site which periodically handles nuclear fuels and operational reactors. There are many management and training requirements enforced on the company as a result.

"It was fascinating to take part in a tour of the ship building facilities. At the Devonshire Dock Hall we were privileged to get to see Artful sat at her berth undergoing commissioning and Audacious, which is externally fully assembled but undergoing final construction. We were also given tours of the pipe shop and NAS metal working construction facilities.

"On behalf the Nuclear Institute I’d like to express my thanks to BAE Systems for organising and hosting this tour as well as for supplying lunch for us all. We enjoyed many highlights of the BAE Systems facilities and gave us a great memory of the visit."

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