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NI Cumbria reports on the Successor programme

The Successor programme will replace the UK’s Vanguard fleet of Nuclear powered Ballistic Missile Submarines, and Graeme Corkill and Russ Watson from BAE Systems came to Cumbria on Tuesday 8th July to talk about it.

The speakers provided a fascinating overview of the programme highlighting its large scope which covers not only construction of the submarines but also a several hundred million pound refurbishment of the submarine construction facilities in Barrow. A range of multi-national organisations involved in delivering the submarine and its associated system also highlights just how big the Successor programme is, with international treaties adding another layer of complexity. The programme for the design, build and launch of the submarine is very tightly defined, with challenging expectations already set for when the submarine will go on patrol. 

For this project a modular build of the submarine is being utilised, something which is becoming increasingly popular in new build applications (as highlighted by the previous Cumbria Branch talks). There is also a move toward reusing equipment from the Astute project where appropriate, as well as using commercially available equipment where compatible within a submarine environment, rather than designing equipment specifically for a submarine.

795px-Vanguard at Faslane 02

Some of the learning from the Astute programme has been incorporated into Successor too,  including greater use of integrated projects in order to optimise the design of the boat prior to committing to the build. One of the benefits this approach has yielded is the ability to build end-to-end individual modules prior to final assembly, rather than requiring some testing post-assembly. The redesign of the manufacturing layout at the shipyard is another aspect of learning from the Astute project. The redesign has seen a significant change in the workflow through the shipyard, as well as substantial investment in facilities, and is expected to make construction run more smoothly.

Commenting after the talk Matt Aukett, Events Sub-Committee chair for NI Cumbria Branch said: “It was interesting to hear how BAE Systems have taken learning from the development of the Astute class and incorporated this into the Successor programme. This is a good example of learning from past programmes that I hope the civil nuclear industry can look at going forward.”

The Nuclear Institute Cumbria branch would like to express our thanks to Graeme and Russ for speaking to us on behalf of BAE Systems at this event. We would also like to thank Nuclear Management Partners for sponsoring this lecture series.