Favourite photos of 2013 #9: Royal Navy submarine HMS Ambush returning to HMNB Clyde

Pictured is HMS Ambush returning to HMNB Clyde in Scotland. © Crown Copyright 2013. Photographer: CPOA(Phot) Thomas McDonald

Political deals & management apathy sound death knell for Portsmouth shipbuilding

Criminal. Bloody criminal.

High politics ends Navy shipbuilding in Portsmouth

What would Nelson have made of it? Before Trafalgar he signalled “England Expects.” But it is the argument over Scotland’s independence that has left ship-building holed below the waterline in the Royal Navy’s headquarter port.

Most people who’ve lobbied hard for Portsmouth now believe the writing is on the wall.

I am told that the announcement has been brought forward to this morning due to leaks in the media.

Everyone expects it to be curtains for shipbuilding. Some wonder whether BAE may also lose some of the maintenance contract for the surface fleet, perhaps to Babcock.

It has become clear that while BAE is keen to work on low-risk ventures like the Type 26 it sees ship services, not ship building, as its future and so it is natural for them to rationalise facilities.

The only good news could be an impending city deal worth at least £100m to help widen the marine industry in Portsmouth, with Rolls Royce Marine, Qinetiq maybe involved. Perhaps private refit work could provide some income at Basin 3.

There have been radical ideas in the past. The Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, Penny Mordaunt, is Phillip Hammond’s PPS, a navy reservist and named after a warship, HMS Penelope!

Her ideas outlined in a letter to the Prime Minister included putting Royal Navy crews on commission, “sell what you sail and get a bonus”.

Considerations of the vote on Scottish independence seem to have trumped the hi-tech yard run by BAE in Portsmouth. The move of Vosper Thornycroft from Southampton to Portsmouth meant the kit was amongst the best in the world. But the Clyde carries more weight at the moment.

Nevertheless, the Royal Navy could still do well from new deals with Babcock. Perhaps the two ocean patrol vessels as well as 13 Type 26s – perhaps a permanent replacement for HMS protector or HMS Ocean’s successor.

Even Nelson could not have turned a blind eye to Alex Salmond. But there could still be plenty for Pompey to be proud of.


HMS Ambush berths alongside new Valiant Jetty at Faslane

Six berths. Speaks volumes to how few submarines the RN will have. {sigh} Oh well. Like Johnny Mercer sang, you’ve got the ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive. So let’s concentrate on what a nifty piece of engineering the floating jetty is. And it is. So nifty, in fact, that the idea could be a nice little export earner.

Faslane nuclear submarine jetty trial ‘a success’

HMS Astute at sea and HMS Ambush berthing alongside Valiant Jetty for the first time.

The Royal Navy has successfully trialled a new state-of-the-art floating jetty at its submarine base on the Clyde.

The Valiant Jetty is designed to move with the tide and will be used to berth nuclear subs at Faslane. A Trafalgar-class sub was berthed on Saturday, followed on Monday by one of the Navy’s new Astute-class subs.

The 200m-long jetty is vital to operations at HM Naval Base Clyde, according to the Navy.

Commander Nick King said: “The Valiant Jetty is world class: the most modern facility for berthing nuclear submarines in the world.

“Previous submarine berths were static whereas the Valiant Jetty moves with the tide. This provides a huge advantage to the submarines alongside as there is no longer the regular need to adjust lines and cables with tidal movement. Both vessel and jetty move together which means a much neater, efficient and safer layout.

“The Valiant Jetty is already attracting the attention of navies around the world who are looking to utilise the technology for berthing their own submarines.”

The 44,000-tonne jetty has six berths and is designed to serve the Navy for the next 50 years.


Royal Navy clearance divers dispose of 70-year old German bomb

70-years later, unexploded munitions from the Second World War still remain a problem to be dealt with. Fortunately, Royal Navy clearance divers have the necessary EOD skills to deal with these historic hazards.

Southern Diving Unit blows up World War 2 bomb in north Cornwall

A Royal Navy ordnance disposal team safely detonated a WW2 bomb in the South West today.

The team of four from the Southern Diving Unit 1 at HM Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth, blew up the air-dropped bomb in-situ in a controlled explosion where it was found by contractors for SW Water laying a mains in a field at St Eval Kart Circuit near Wadebridge, north Cornwall yesterday.

The unexploded German 50g, two-ft-long device was still live and had to be rendered safe through working on the fuse. An exclusion zone (including a no-fly-area because of the adjacent Newquay Airport) was enforced over night by police. Roads were closed and horses in the field were also removed for their safety.

The incident also involved staff from the water company and a local authority. Preparation for the operation began with the building of a protective earthwork with 6.5 tonnes of sandbags in two rings round the bomb in order to prevent damage to property and people from the bomb if it went off unexpectedly and when detonated in the controlled explosion.

Petty Officer Diver Sid Lawrence said: “This was a very well run operation with several organisations including the water company, builders on the site who discovered the bomb and emergency services, local authorities and the guys who put up the protective works. This made our job a lot more straight forward and ensured the safety of the public.

“This was a live bomb which caused a major hazard. However, after the delicate work needed to disarm the bomb we decided to detonate it on the same site and that went smoothly.’’