Her Majesty’s Submarine HMS Astute in the Gareloch at Faslane.
By Gavin Carr
HM Naval Base Clyde recently hosted an innovation and technology market stall event, the first of its kind at the military site.
Over 20 firms linked to Aberdeen’s oil and gas technology and innovation sector visited the Home of the UK Submarine Service, meeting some of the men and women responsible for maintaining the country’s nuclear-powered submarines.
The event, which was arranged by the Naval Base’s Superintendent Fleet Maintenance (SFM) organisation, aimed to explore new technology which could be used to combat challenges associated with submarine engineering.
“This event has strengthened our relationship with Aberdeen’s O&G sector. Their enthusiasm to help us has boosted my optimism that we can and will improve our delivery of submarine engineering at HMNB Clyde – mimicking the successes experienced in the North Sea. Our focus was to harness existing technologies and put them in the hands of the men and women who cross the gangway every day to work in submarines.”
Every single hour of every day for the last 50 years at least one Royal Navy ballistic submarine has been at sea providing the UK’s nuclear deterrent. During that entire time the vessels have been maintained and supported by the engineering expertise at HM Naval Base Clyde.
During the technology and innovation event firms were invited to create “market stalls” within the Warrant Officers and Senior Rates Mess. Those involved in the submarine enterprise could then visit the individual stalls to learn about new technologies and developments in the sector.
The visitors were also taken to the site’s giant Shiplift facility – capable of lifting a 16,000-ton Vanguard submarine completely out of the water – to gain a sense of the engineering challenge.
Aberdeen’s Oil and Gas Technology Centre, Subsea UK and the National Subsea Research Initiative, helped the SFM team identify companies with expertise in Non-Destructive Examination and confined space entry. These companies included: Sonarmatic, Spectis Robotics, Forth Engineering and Cactus Industrial.
Captain Lewis continued: “The energy and enthusiasm developed during the event should see some quick wins in improving the support we provide. The event will also hopefully develop HM Naval Base Clyde’s ability to attract new technologies to help the broader base in areas such as facility and asset management.”
Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, which includes the port of Faslane and the Royal Navy Armaments Depot at Coulport, is home to the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent, mine countermeasures vessels and patrol boats.
HMNB Clyde will be home to all the UK’s submarines by 2020. As one of the largest employers in Scotland, it is increasing the numbers employed there from around 6,800 now to approximately 8,200 by 2022.