Thursday, June 16, 2005

Safety Concerns Over Two Royal Navy Submarines

According to this TIMESONLINE article two Trafalgar-class British Royal Navy Submarines the HMS Tireless and the HMS Torbay have been banned from operating at sea. Both submarines have had problems with their nuclear reactor’s primary coolant circuit pipes over the last few years with the HMS Tireless having their coolant circuit pipes replaced. The Royal Navy and Ministry of Defense have continuing concerns. Excerpt:

Royal Navy sources said that detection equipment was now much more sophisticated and was capable of spotting the minutest of cracks, “scars” or faults in materials that may have been there for years. Since safety for all nuclear boats was paramount, they said, it had been decided to stop them operating at sea until further checks had been carried out.

Adam Ingram, the Armed Forces Minister stated:

“It was decided that further work should be conducted to restore full confidence in the safety justification before these two submarines returned to normal operation.”

I don't recall ever hearing of any US Navy submarines having any similar problems where the primary loop's piping had to be replaced. The HMS Tireless was built in 1984 and the HMS Torbay in 1987 and have a Rolls Royce PWR Nuclear power plant. Are Brit and US Submarine reactor plant construction or standards that different? Any back aft engineering types have a comment.

Update - 6/17/05 21:30 : For some further reading check out Bubblehead over at "The Stupid Shall be Punished". He adds some additional content and further context to the above piece.

22:00 : It looks as though the Trafalgar-class has had a difficult history (hat tip: Rontini's BBS)


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