Planning for the fourth and last Vanguard class Long Overhaul Period and Refuel (LOP(R)), to be undertaken by Babcock at Devonport Royal Dockyard on HMS Vengeance, has reached an important milestone with the submission of the tender, following identification of the full work package requirement, for the three and a half year, multi-million pound refit.
The workscope will include fitting Vengeance with the latest reactor core, as used in the new Astute class submarines, fuelling the submarine for life, and a number of updates and upgrades to her tactical and strategic weapons systems, as well as surveys, hull & structure preservation and overhaul of all the submarine's major components, systems and equipment. The workscope includes some first-of-class fits, with the intention to install main static converters to replace the high maintenance motor generators for essential electrical power conversion, a significant package of work to upgrade the propulsion system instrumentation, and a possible upgrade to tactical combat systems. Overall the programme will involve over two million manhours and around 2,000 Babcock personnel.
Building on lessons learnt from previous Vanguard class LOP(R)s, a number of components in systems such as hydraulic systems, pressurised gas systems and trim, bilge and ballast system valves and pipework will be removed and overhauled without requiring initial survey or test, saving time and enabling advance planning.
The LOP(R) will also feature an increase in constructive surveys of the submarine hull to ensure it is in good condition for on-going life, made possible by the latest non-destructive testing (NDT) techniques such as Time of Flight Diffraction (ToFD) and corrosion mapping using phased array ultrasonics technology. Using this technology enables more detail to be gained than has previously been possible, while reducing the level of radiography (and therefore radiological hazard) involved.
The contracting agreement between Babcock and the MoD to undertake the LOP(R) on Vengeance will reflect the ground-breaking arrangement established on Vigilant, with a focus on joint working and fully embedded partnering, greater transparency of information including financial data, cost-reduction while improving safety and quality standards, and incentives to achieve or better the agreed schedule.
Babcock project manager Jonathan Benzie comments: "Having submitted the tender to the MoD is a significant milestone in the planning process. We have of course built in 'Learning from Experience' from previous Vanguard-class LOP(R)s, which will deliver further improvements in a number of areas, from the workscope itself to facility support requirements. We will also be building on initiatives such as the Industry Day which proved successful on Vigilant, as an opportunity for early engagement with the supply chain on Vengeance."
Further work to be undertaken in the remainder of the planning phase for the Vengeance LOP(R), which began in September 2010, will include negotiations with the MoD to reach final agreement on contracted scope, price and programme. Additionally, teams will continue to plan in detail their respective areas of the project, such as preparation of test forms, nuclear procedures and other documentation, issue of detailed 3rd level schedules and individual scheduling of every work element. As well as planning activities, teams will be carrying out maintenance around the 9 Dock facility at Devonport to ensure the facility and its equipment is fit for purpose.
The planning phase is being undertaken by a joint team involving Babcock, the MoD (DE&S), and Rolls-Royce, each leading in their fields of expertise. This combined team ensures efficient use of resources and builds an effective team ready to undertake the LOP(R), which will start next year as HMS Vigilant leaves Devonport on completion of her LOP(R) in 2012.
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