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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Yard team working hard to repair Astute fire damage

A DEDICATED team is working round the clock to repair the damage caused by the fire on Astute.

But BAE says it is not yet in a position to estimate the cost or impact of the blaze on April 18, on the first-of-class nuclear submarine’s schedule.

And a shipyard union chief also says the workforce are keeping their fingers crossed that the blaze has not caused any major damage.

Chris Nelson, communications manager for BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, told The Mail an investigation is taking place to determine the cause of the fire.

He said: “The Bridge Fin recovery work stream now has a dedicated team repairing the damage caused by the fire. The team is made up of personnel from BAE Systems, the Royal Navy, the MoD and supply chain partners. The work is being carried out alongside other vital tasks already planned for the first of class submarine.

“An investigation is taking place to determine the cause of the fire and evaluate the full extent of the damage.”

The fire broke out at the top of the fin or conning tower of the boat while it was being worked on in Devonshire Dock.

Twenty people working in the boat had to be evacuated because of the fire, which sent up a big pall of black smoke that was seen around the town.

While BAE is still checking over the £1.2bn sub to assess the damage, the company has said the inside of the boat and the diesel engine and nuclear reactor were not affected.

Azza Samms, union secretary for yard manual workers, said: “The Monday after the company was telling us they hoped it won’t affect the programme and the news on Thursday was that everything was going to plan.

“Nobody was injured thank God. It is not good. It’s unfortunate that these things happen but it is obviously not done deliberately. It’s an accident and accidents do happen unfortunately.

“I think it was the burning tiles that caused all the black smoke. Hopefully it is not as bad as we first thought, but the investigation is still taking place.” The top of the fin includes a series of apertures from which expensive masts and antennae, including the sub’s new-style TV periscope, are deployed.

The fire came as the submarine was commissioning equipment in dockside tests and was due to switch on its nuclear reactor for power range testing.

Some reports, including one on the Defence News website, have claimed the switch-on has been put back until later in the summer. The submarine was scheduled to do sea trials this summer before moving to the Royal Navy base at Faslane for any final rectification work.

BAE confirmed the fire started during trials of the snort induction system which draws in and circulates air for the diesel engines, although the engines were not running at the time.

An MOD spokesman said: “The fire is a matter for BAE Submarine Solutions, however, we continue to work closely with BAE SSS across all aspects of the project, including to determine the impact of this minor incident on the Astute programme.”

Have your say

The team has been working around the clock (24 Hour shifts) for some considerable time before the fire,to try and maintain a schedule on a very late programme.Surely to throw bodies at at this is not going to resolve any equipment issues that may have been damaged as interchangeability between Boats is very limited due to ongoing improvements,and potentially will impact the programme on the following Boats.

Posted by I knewit on 30 April 2009 at 13:45

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