Nuclear sub programme on course as Ambush takes a dip

Posted on 4 Oct 2011 by The Manufacturer

Ambush, BAE Systems’ second Astute Class hunter-killer submarine, has successfully completed her first dive and now prepares for sea trials early next year.

photo shows HMS Astute

Ambush, the second in a six-boat fleet of new nuclear subs being built at BAE Systems Submarine Solutions in Barrow-in-Furness, was ‘dunk tested’ yesterday and today (Tuesday).

The exercise, known as ‘the Trim and Inclining Experiment’, proves the boat’s submerged safety and stability and measures the submarine’s performance at a depth of 16 metres. The maiden dive took place over two days and involved more than 70 people including BAE Systems’ engineers, Ministry of Defence personnel and Royal Navy Ship’s Staff.

“Nuclear submarines are some of the most complex machines on earth and to see everything come together in order to dive the boat for the first time is very satisfying,” said Commander Peter Green, Commanding Officer of Ambush. “It has been a superb team effort between BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, the Ministry of Defence Submarine Project Team and Ambush Ship’s Company”

The ‘‘trim and inclining experiment’ tests the safety and stability of the submarine and sets operational standards for the vessel’s performance. Measurements are recorded at all stages of the dive. These include recording trim draught, which gauges how far the boat sits underwater to achieve the correct balance, assessing the boat’s centre of gravity and the stability of the boat intact and in the event of damage.

Before Ambush’s sea trials in 2012 a final commissioning activity, known as Power Range Testing, will take place towards the end of this year, where the full propulsion system is fully tested for the first time.

Following a review of its business, in February 2010 BAE Systems Submarine Solutions announced plans to cut up to 230 jobs. Several factors, including the lack of clarity over the MoD’s long term defence procurement needs, caused the firm to slow down the speed of build work on the new submarines.

The programme is back on track and the submarine division is trying to recruit 200 new employees, mainly engineers. “We also need project managers for the programme to replace the Vanguard class deterrent submarines,” said a spokesman. “The design phase is now under way and attracting the right people into the programme is currently a major business priority.”

Key equipment and systems for the third boat, HMS Artful, have been commissioned at the Devonshire Dock Hall in Barrow, and BAE says that the boat’s diesel generators were commissioned 18-days ahead of schedule.