A Nuclear Submarine

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    • 00:30

      [She is one of Britain's biggest and most secretive engineeringprojects][Costing over one billion pounds]

    • 00:42

      SPEAKER 1: This submarine's huge.It's a hundred meters long.It's three decks deep.There is no inch of the submarine that issimilar to another inch of it.I would definitely put it in the same league as the spaceshuttle or projects of that size.

    • 00:57

      SPEAKER 2: To my mind this is a 7,000 ton Swiss Watch.There's an extraordinary amount of expertisein putting one of these submarines together.There are stages where it's like blacksmithing.And there are stages when it's like brain surgery.[And it took more than 5000 people 14 years to build her]

    • 01:17

      SPEAKER 3: The team that I've got been working togetherfor over 20 odd years.I mean we used a lot heavier.This is a [INAUDIBLE].

    • 01:28

      SPEAKER 4: I'll be fully qualified in September, 2010,which is really [INAUDIBLE] in being able to say,I will be a qualified electrician.

    • 01:36

      SPEAKER 5: To exit here, through this channel, whichis not particularly deep and, therefore, has been dredged,we need particularly high tides.

    • 01:49

      SPEAKER 2: I'm in charge of purchasing submarinesfor the Minister of Defense.And it's my job to make sure that programs that we'rehearing from the company are sensible and realand we're getting value for our money out of them.

    • 02:04

      SPEAKER 6: This is a key point for the Royal Navy bringingAstute out, if I get that wrong, I'm certainlyaware of the amount of scrutiny thatwill been coming down on me.

    • 02:13

      SPEAKER 7: Our son, he said, what do you do daddy?And he said, I built submarines for the Queen.[Voyages of Construction][November 2009]

    • 02:31

      NARRATOR: It's a wet and windy weekendin the middle of November.And the first new British submarineto be built for 10 years, is now preparingto sail out into the open sea for the very first time.-Is my cap edge in the middle?-Yes.-Good.Cause often it's around there.

    • 02:50

      NARRATOR: Fourteen years in the makingand costing over a billion pounds,she is one of the most technologicallyadvanced machines in the world.

    • 02:59

      SPEAKER 2: She's a world class submarinein her sense of technology on the waterand above water, the weapons that shecan carry to sea that attack not only ships but the landtargets.She's an awesome vessel.

    • 03:16

      NARRATOR: Impressive as she is, hefinal exit into the open sea is not going to be an easy one.

    • 03:25

      SPEAKER 8: Much of Britain has experienced the worst stormsof the year with strong winds and heavy raincausing flooding and damage across the country.

    • 03:37

      SPEAKER 9: We have very strict criteriafor making sure we have a safe exit.

    • 03:40

      SPEAKER 2: And the rain only effectsthe visibility on the day.It's the wind that matters.

    • 03:46

      NARRATOR: This is the story of howone of the world's most complicated machines is built,and the people that build it.[How to build a nuclear submarine]

    • 04:15

      SPEAKER 4: It's about five to seven, and I've got work.

    • 04:27

      SPEAKER 5: I've been in the Navy almost 30 years now.And I've spent probably, literally,about 15 years under water in submarines.

    • 04:45

      NARRATOR: It's the start of a typical workingday for the people who build Britain's Nuclear Submarines.

    • 04:51

      SPEAKER 10: There is a lot of peoplethat I know that work in the yard.Obviously, there's Jed, my husband.My sister-in-law works in there.My brother-in-law works in there.My brother works in there.I would say every family that I know, at least one or twopeople that actually work in the yard.

    • 05:12

      NARRATOR: Barrow-in-Furness is a townof 62,000 people on the edge of the English Lake District.The town has an amazing history of building submarines,launching its first in 1887.

    • 05:24

      SPEAKER 4: It only takes me about 10 minutes, if that,to get to work.

    • 05:27

      NARRATOR: And generations of the same familiesfrom all around the area still build them today.

    • 05:32

      SPEAKER 4: I'm just swiping on this is the electric time keep,it makes sure you're in at the right time and not late.

    • 05:59

      PAUL KNIGHT: The capability of our submarinesis something that we want to keep to ourselves,because if other countries, other organizations knowthe capability of the units which we operate,then they can develop ways of defeating that capability.So that's why we're very careful about who comes on this site,and also what information we're allowed to give as well.

    • 06:24

      NARRATOR: The current owner of the shipyardis British defense company BAE Systems.The business employs over 35,000 people across the UK,with around 5,000 of them in Barrow alone.BAE Systems is not without its critics.But in this town, the company forms the very backbone

    • 06:44

      NARRATOR [continued]: of the local economy.

    • 06:48

      JOHN HUDSON: We have extraordinary numbersof people working here, with all sorts of family relationships.[John Hudson, MD BAE Systems, Submarine Solutions]And the business has a real family feel to it as well.We play a very vital part in the communities.A lot of salaries and money goes back into the communitythrough our shipyard.

    • 07:04

      NARRATOR: Britain's needs for submarines splits opinion.Some think they're critical for defense-- others,that they're a waste of taxpayers' money.But with a potential order book of seven Astute submarines,Barrow depends on them to prosper into the next decadeand beyond.

    • 07:23

      JOHN HUDSON: This is the only site in the UKwhere we design, build, test, and commissionnuclear submarines for the Royal Navy.

    • 07:31

      NARRATOR: Britain's current fleet of attack submarinesare coming to the end of their working lives.And the Royal Navy are desperate to get their handson this new class.One of the world's most technologically advancedmachines, they pack weaponry, life support, and allthe sensitive equipment a submarine needs to operate,including a nuclear reactor that will power its engine for 25

    • 07:53

      NARRATOR [continued]: years and never need refueling.At almost a billion pounds, this submarinedoesn't come cheaply or quickly.

    • 08:01

      PAUL KNIGHT: The submarines take yearsto manufacture. [Commander Paul Knight, Nuclear Engineer, RoyalNavy] But what we do have on site here arefour submarines in the various stages of their build.The first one is a float.That's on the Devonshire Dock Hall.The second submarine is behind me.The third submarine is just about whole.We've got a few more units to weld together.The fourth submarine is, at the moment,

    • 08:23

      PAUL KNIGHT [continued]: in a series of units being outfitted.So you can look around the site hereand see from first rolling the steelto actually operating the systemsand preparing to go to sea.

    • 08:35

      NARRATOR: Building four boats with a staggered productionschedule, the range of skills needed on siteis extraordinary.The people here are unique in not only what they do,but how they do it.

    • 08:49

      ERIN BROWNE: I'm just changing into my overalls.[Erin Browne, Apprentice Electrician]You have to wear them, obviously, don'tcut yourself or hurt yourself.But they're not very flattering, to say the least.I work on that boat, boat two, Ambush.This one closer to us is boat three.

    • 09:09

      ERIN BROWNE [continued]: We're going down there to the toolbox talk.[INAUDIBLE]

    • 09:17

      NARRATOR: Erin Browne will be trainedin the electrical systems of the submarine,and is one of only 300 electricians on the build.When she's qualified, she'll be part of a very elite and highlyskilled club.

    • 09:29

      ERIN BROWNE: That was our toolbox talk.We have one every morning, half past seven, telling usany health and safety issues from the day before,any communications-- basically keeping usin touch with whats going on around the yard.

    • 09:40

      NARRATOR: The whole site covers 169 acres,making it Britain's biggest shipyard.And there's a hub of high technology.Nuclear submarines aren't just built in Barrow,they're designed here, too.

    • 09:58

      ROB RITCHIE: The submarine is designedto operate in a very hostile environment, whichis under the sea, in pressure.It's a salty environment, it wants to corrode.And at the same time it has to keep its crew of 97safe for about a three month periodwithout surfacing. [Rob Ritchie, Engineering Manager, NavalArchitecture] So it has to make its own air,

    • 10:18

      ROB RITCHIE [continued]: make its own water, carry its own food.And it also has to operate as a war fighting machine as well.

    • 10:26

      NARRATOR: The submarine has to beable to withstand underwater strikes and explosions.And so computer simulations put the hullthrough extreme testing to ensure it willkeep its crew safe if attacked.With around 600 people involved in the design process alone,

    • 10:48

      NARRATOR [continued]: this is one of the largest concentrationsof such expertise in the world.

    • 10:60

      PETER BROADBENT: It's the most complex submarine we've everbuilt. [Peter Broadbent, Head of Design & Engineering Services]It's got something like a quarter of a millionmiles' worth of cabling by the boat.It's got something like 25,000 valves.We have to produce more than 100,000 drawings.So all the drawings originate from our computer-aided model.

    • 11:25

      NARRATOR: It took four years to design the Astute, whichwill contain more than a million individual components designedon a computer but built by hand.

    • 11:44

      SPEAKER B1: My job is the steel work team leader.I started off as a shipwright in 1982and worked my way through the business.I've been in this shop now for about 12 years.This is the place where all the submarines start out life.

    • 12:06

      SPEAKER B1 [continued]: This is where the rolled plates come in by road.The wagons back into the shop, the magnet crane removes them,puts them into the piles.

    • 12:15

      NARRATOR: Using a plasma cutting machine,each plate has carefully designedpatterns burnt into them.

    • 12:21

      SPEAKER B1: When each plate comes offthe burner machine, what we do, weleave a small stitch of metal whichstops all the individual pieces falling out on the floor.Pete on the burner, what he's doing nowis cutting through all the little stitchesso the piece parts will fall out.They'll all go where they need to be,to be built in the right time, just like a massive Airfix

    • 12:42

      SPEAKER B1 [continued]: model.

    • 12:48

      NARRATOR: The steel that makes the hull is shaped and rolleduntil the massive sections are completed.Peel away the special coating, and the pressure hullis simply a watertight tube capped at both ends with tanksthat fill with water to help it dive and surface.And finally, there's a fin section on top.

    • 13:09

      NARRATOR [continued]: The hull is made of eight separate steel sections,each around 11 meters in diameter.The boat is 97 meters long and, when finished,weighs 7,400 tons.The huge sections are made in a different part of the yardand, when completed, need to be transported downa public road to the building where the vessel is actually

    • 13:30

      NARRATOR [continued]: put together.At 260 meters long, 58 meters wide, and 51 meters tall,this building is one of Britain's biggest sheds.

    • 13:53

      ERIN BROWNE: This is the DDH, which stands for,Devonshire Dock Hall.The submarines are built in here because it'swhere all the top-secret stuff is, where people can't see.So its housed and its hidden.It's where the magic happens, I suppose.

    • 14:20

      NARRATOR: The Astute is the first classof British submarine in which sectionsare worked on vertically.This allows easy access for the teambefore the section is turned the right way up, or shipwise.

    • 14:32

      ALAN PHIZACKLEA: Right, what we've got is a unit like this.And we'll lower it down till its on its two turningshoes at the far end, there.What we'll then do is rig Frank up to the shop crane, up here.And we'll start turning it over like thisso it's rolling on the two turning shoes.

    • 15:07

      ALAN PHIZACKLEA [continued]: My job's just a second set of eyes--just to make sure that everything's running smoothly.Because I'm the appointed person, if anything goes wrong,it's me that gets it in the neck.We're at a critical stage now of this turn, wherewe've transferred the weight of the unitsonto the mobile crane.The mobile crane is holding the load.

    • 15:30

      ALAN PHIZACKLEA [continued]: We're now going to de-rig the shop craneand re-rig it onto these outlets on this lower side of the unit.It's a critical point now.If either of these two cranes fail,I wouldn't like to be standing here.I'll put it that way.

    • 15:52

      NARRATOR: A submarine packs in three times more machineryand equipment than any surface ship.But most of the back of the boat is taken upwith the nuclear reactor, the engine, and allthe different backup systems.

    • 16:08

      PAUL KNIGHT: We're now in the diesel generator space.Should we lose a reactor at sea, thenwe would rely on these diesel enginesto provide the electrical power for runningthe minimum equipment we need to live as human beings.If you really need them at sea, then it's a bad hair day,and you've got some problems, yeah.

    • 16:26

      NARRATOR: For a submarine to operate effectively,it has to be virtually undetectable.To do this, machinery is isolated from shocks, noise,and vibration.

    • 16:34

      PAUL KNIGHT: This mounting here isan example of how you decouple the noise,or the vibration, generated from the diesel enginehere from a sensitive piece of equipment.So basically you can see here that thisallows this piece of equipment to move.We expect the Astute class to be one of the, if not the,quietest submarine in the world.

    • 16:54

      PAUL KNIGHT [continued]: And one of the reasons for that is, of course,the technology we employ on here to prevent the vibration beingtransmitted to the hull.[MUSIC - JOHANN STRAUSS II, "BLUE DANUBE']

    • 17:12

      NARRATOR: Today, boat three is taking shapeas some of her biggest sections are being moved into position.Submarines take on water to help them dive, and a lot of itcomes into the streamlined, 270 ton forward-end construction.This unit also houses the submarine sonar equipment.

    • 17:35

      NARRATOR [continued]: Active sonar works by emitting a pulse of sound,and then calculates the amount of timeit takes to hit an object and bounce back,which determines the distance.But the Astute will normally use passive sonar,which simply listens to the sea to detect and identify objects.It's claimed this technology is sensitive enoughto hear a boat leaving New York Harbor from Southampton.

    • 17:58

      NARRATOR [continued]: The other end of the submarine is cappedwith the aft-end construction.Weighing in at around 230 tons, this alsotakes on water when the submarine dives, and housesthe mechanisms that control the submarine's rudderand propeller shaft.

    • 18:12

      DEREK PARKER: My name's Derek Parker,and I work for the production services team.We're in charge of all major movements in the DDH.Do all the heavy lifting, do all the shipping modules,and moving all the units.We're setting up now, ready to move the aft-end constructionup to the after dock. [Derek Parker, Production ServicesTeam Leader]There's four transfer cars.

    • 18:34

      DEREK PARKER [continued]: They can actually pick up to 250 ton per car.We're moving 39 meters, and it's a meter a minutethat it travels.Everything's away, so we're ready for this.We're ready to go on then, boys.[INAUDIBLE]Let's go.Thank you.

    • 19:03

      DEREK PARKER [continued]: The team what I've got, we've been working togetherfor over 20 odd years.So they know the system inside out.We've used a lot heavier.We're used to something like 600 ton putting against a unit.This is a baby.This is a little baby.As we get six foot off the units,

    • 19:24

      DEREK PARKER [continued]: we have to put people inside.So we bring more people in that are going to watch us.We up towards the door, so we don't hit that unit.

    • 19:49

      DEREK PARKER [continued]: As you can see, we've only got three inches to go now.Now we're gonna go on to the next port, wherewe can actually do it an inch at a time.Inch up, Tony!That's it.Just the last inch now, boys.That's it, thank you.We can't do it any more.With the transfer system, that's as close as we can get it.

    • 20:11

      DEREK PARKER [continued]: And it's within half an inch.It's gone well.

    • 20:23

      NARRATOR: One of the biggest and most complicatedareas of the submarine is the command deck,the nerve center of the boat.Built as a separate module in another part of the shipyard,the command deck module is 22 meters longand weighs 180 tons.It contains the navigational controls, sonar,communications, and weapon systems.

    • 20:43

      NARRATOR [continued]: The captain's cabin is on the top deck,while the second deck is where food is preparedand the crew will eat, sleep, and relax.

    • 20:50

      MAC MACDONALD: We put all the combat system together here,make it talk to each other, and then the CDNgets fleeted from here down to the submarineand then set back in the submarine.[Mac MacDonald, Principal Systems & Integration Engineer]This is called a sonar cap space.Various equipment's in here, the processing for the sonar,

    • 21:10

      MAC MACDONALD [continued]: for the networks, for the command systems.I'll show you the sound room.This is where the sonar set sits at.This is all a command system.All the sonars and all the other equipments on boardpass all their information across to these desks.OK, carry on.This is the commanding officer's cabin.Again, at the moment it's pretty bare.

    • 21:34

      MAC MACDONALD [continued]: The captain is the only man on boardwho has a cabin to himself.He's the sole occupant of this one.This is the lower deck of the CDN,which is mainly accommodation.There's 19 bunks in this space-- quite cramped.But nothing different to what some men are used toor have been used to for many years.

    • 21:55

      MAC MACDONALD [continued]: When I was in the Navy, all we had was a bunk light.Nowadays, they have iPod chargers.They have all sorts.OK, coming to the aft-end of the command deck, now.We have both junior mates' and the senior mates' messes.This is where they live when they're off watch as well.The final compartment is the galley, the kitchen.

    • 22:20

      MAC MACDONALD [continued]: It's got every possible modern convenience, everything.I don't know, it's got more than my kitchen has.There's a little bit of finishing off still to do.But we're not far off completion, wherebythis will then be transported down to the DDHand slotted into the submarine.

    • 22:44

      NARRATOR: Once the units are fully fitted out,they can be joined together.

    • 22:48

      DAVID BURCHELL: One right through this unitto the next unit, and one to go down the tank.

    • 22:54

      NARRATOR: A job for the welding team.

    • 22:59

      SPEAKER B2: There's always watchmenon nights, watchmen on days.We will be on the job until it's finished.

    • 23:08

      TONY MANZI: I'm working on my second t-shirt now.Sweating, I'm tired, and I'm gonnabe here till about 7 o'clock today. [Tony Manzi, Welder]

    • 23:19

      GED JONES: We all have a section each.We start at the same time, finish at the same time,more or less. [Ged Jones, Welder] Andhopefully the results are all the same.The welding's good.

    • 23:33

      COLIN BRIDGES: Compared to some of the spaceson this submarine, this space is big. [Colin Bridges, Welder]

    • 23:40

      DAVID BURCHELL: This is my job down here.I crawl down this gap and this ladder to get down.

    • 23:45

      NARRATOR: The job will take over two kilometers of weldingto complete, so the team will haveto work in unison, with accuracy being key,to ensure the units are in perfect alignment.

    • 23:55

      DAVID BURCHELL: The side of the bulkhead's the nuclear reactor.[David Burchell, Welder] And to the rightwe've got the command deck module goes in this side.This is my gun.Press the trigger, and the gas comes out first.Then let go of the trigger, the wireobviously fades out with the power going through it.If you get too hot or get too dry mouthor lose too much fluids, you've got to come out.

    • 24:24

      GED JONES: Heat-wise, it's the same everywhere.It's extremely hot, wherever you are, as you can see.It's hard work, it is a hard job to do.

    • 24:33

      NARRATOR: It will take eight welders working day and nightshifts three weeks to join just two parts of the submarinetogether.And the tanks they work in can reach temperatures upto 130 degrees.

    • 24:46

      TONY MANZI: On a job like this, we'llbe doing miles of welding, yeah.Absolutely.

    • 24:50

      GED JONES: We use coils of wire, and DAthink they hold about 10 pound of wire,and then we can pull one, two, in a shift easy.So there's a lot of welding involved.

    • 25:01

      DAVID BURCHELL: I take pride in my work.I think a lot of the welders do.

    • 25:04

      SPEAKER B3: Yeah, it's a bit of a challengenow and again, so yeah.

    • 25:07

      GED JONES: Have a challenge with each of them as well.When you're welding, you've each got to be right.We have a bit of a laugh over it, bit of a dig at each of us.So you take pride in your work that way.

    • 25:19

      LIZ JONES: Ged's worked in the yard for about 25 years now.He left school when he was 16 and went straightinto the yard, left in the June and went in in September.I like it because I think it's permanent, it's stable.He's got a good job there.And he's home from work within five minutes.A welder's a very, very manual job, and very dirty.

    • 25:42

      LIZ JONES [continued]: And he has to get into some sort of tight spotsthat I certainly couldn't get into.

    • 25:50

      NARRATOR: Once the welding is finished inside,the team move to the outside of the hull to complete the job.

    • 26:03

      DAVID BURCHELL: It's quite an important job.If anything goes wrong with the job, it goes on my record.I did my first job when I was age 18.I think I'm the youngest one to do one.I'm quite proud of it as well, really.This is finished now.No crack detected.

    • 26:24

      DAVID BURCHELL [continued]: And it'll get ultrasonic tested.It's just like a baby scan, really.Put jelly on it, put a probe over it,just to make sure there's no muck or defects in the metal.Then they'll X-ray it just to further check it again,just to make sure.There's lives at risk, so it's got to be right.

    • 26:41

      NARRATOR: Where there is a joint,there is usually a weakness.But in the case of the Astute, the metal used by the weldersis actually stronger than the hull.This innovative work is done on siteby a team of scientists and engineers.

    • 26:57

      CHRIS SCALES: In the mechanical test area,there are various pieces of equipment and techniqueswhich allow us to characterize the way materials behave,such as tensile testing, which weuse to pull the material apart. [Chris Scales, PrincipalMetallurgist] Or, impact testing,when two sections of the submarine are joined together,

    • 27:19

      CHRIS SCALES [continued]: we want to specify the materials that have been joined together.We will have developed the process whichjoins the material together.And we will have assessed the suitabilityof the material that goes into joining the twopieces together.

    • 27:40

      NARRATOR: Boat two is ready to be outfitted.The vessel will eventually containover one million components, which includes 23,000 pipes,and over 100 kilometers of electrical cabling.

    • 27:52

      ERIN BROWNE: Just going to go into the workshopnow and go see Carl and see what the plan of actionis for today.

    • 27:58

      NARRATOR: With a maximum of 290 people allowed on board boattwo at any one time, the different teamsneed to work together.They literally build her by hand.

    • 28:07

      CARL HARLEY: The job that we're doing today, it's gonnabe in the captain's cabin.So it's quite a small compartment.

    • 28:16

      ERIN BROWNE: Spent in the PAM cabin,the air PAMs, Personal Air Monitors.

    • 28:20

      CARL HARLEY: We need them for gasesso if there's a gas leak, such as argon.

    • 28:24

      ERIN BROWNE: Argon's really dangerous, they say,like, two lungfuls and it kills you straightaway.So, nasty.Before we go on the boat, the last thing we got to dois swipe on with our passes.And that's just so they know how many people are on board,so if there's a fire, they know how many peopleto get off board.Things like that.

    • 28:47

      NARRATOR: Erin is one of 500 apprentices and graduatesworking in the shipyard.Apprentice schemes all over Britainare now being reintroduced to stop the declineof traditional skills.And this is especially essential for the survival of Barrow.

    • 29:01

      ERIN BROWNE: This is the captain's cabin space.

    • 29:08

      CARL HARLEY: This is the call signal station.So if the power goes down on the boat,and you can't contact other areas,this will have a handset on it.It's just like a wind-up form.

    • 29:21

      NARRATOR: Apprentices always workwith someone already qualified, known as a journeyman.

    • 29:26

      ERIN BROWNE: I basically get a step-by-step guidethrough how to do something, until I'mconfident I can do it myself.And then I do them on my own.But I've never done one of these before,so Carl will tell me what to do.

    • 29:51

      ERIN BROWNE [continued]: These cables are going to be run into the topsof the terminals, which are connectedto the bottoms of the terminals.All these colors go up the side, and then they'reall connected in there.Then we've got blue and black, red and black,then there's three white and black ones.

    • 30:05

      CARL HARLEY: And we'll be at work out on the drawing, whichone goes way.

    • 30:08

      ERIN BROWNE: So just them ones?

    • 30:09

      CARL HARLEY: Yeah.

    • 30:12

      ERIN BROWNE: What next?

    • 30:13

      CARL HARLEY: Three and four.

    • 30:14

      NIGEL MOORE: These are the first submarineswe've built for 10 years, and a lot of skills have been lost.We had a spell where there was no apprentices coming through,and we've had to start it all up again.And if you didn't have apprentices,you'd be struggling in the future. [Nigel Moore,Electricians' Team Leader] This is a big employer of the townand we need this to keep going.

    • 30:30

      ERIN BROWNE: Good?

    • 30:31

      CARL HARLEY: All right, yeah.Sorted.Yeah, Erin did well.She did well. [Carl Harley, Electrician] Niceand neat, so good job.

    • 30:39

      ERIN BROWNE: We opened it and there's lots of terminals,and it looks complicated.But once you had the drawing and understood it,it was pretty easy.

    • 30:47

      NARRATOR: While the teams continue to finish the inside,a very special process is beginning on the outside.The surface of the boat is coveredwith around 40,00 rubber tiles designed to makethe boat almost invisible.The rubber absorbs and then breaks upenemy sonar waves, stopping the signal returning and givingthe Astute's position away.

    • 31:08

      NARRATOR [continued]: This rubber blanket also gives added sound insulation,making this submarine even quieter.Each submarine will spend around five yearsinside the Devonshire Dock Hall before being removedand lowered into the dock outside by a massive shiplift capable of handling vessels weighing more than 16,000 tons.

    • 31:28

      NARRATOR [continued]: Once in the wet dock, the submarine can be fine-tunedand finished.[MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 31:54

      SPEAKER B4: Stop!Unlocked.

    • 31:57

      NARRATOR: The weapons storage department, or torpedo room,is where weapons are loaded, stored, and fired from.The Astute is armed with spearfish torpedoes thathave a range of over 65 kilometersand weigh two tons each, and Tomahawkcruise missiles able to accurately hit targetsmore than 1,000 kilometers inland.However, as an attack submarine, the Astute

    • 32:19

      NARRATOR [continued]: is not built to carry the controversial Trident missilesystem.Today the crew are engaging in a war game exerciseto test that all the equipment is talkingto each other correctly.

    • 32:29

      SPEAKER B4: The plan today is to run three scenarios.These scenarios will test all aspectsof the system, both physically and the crew as well.It will test them as well.

    • 32:41

      SPEAKER B5: [INAUDIBLE] up guys, this is your brief.Your task-- you've been allocated a patrol areain the Norwegian sea with an assigned role of surveillanceand intelligence gathering.You are to patrol the area and attempt to covertly trailany deploying submarines which you detect and then classify.You are to maintain a fire controlsolution at all times whilst in the trial.If you detect Delta Four preparing for a weapon firing,

    • 33:04

      SPEAKER B5 [continued]: you are to conduct a simulated spearfish engagement, includingwater shots to ensure counter-detection.You have two hours and thirty minutes to save the world.172 is dangerous submarine contact.

    • 33:16

      BRUCE RUSSELL: The control room up hereis where we prepare the fire controlsolution for firing a weapon.And then down below in the weapon storage compartment,or bomb shop, that's where we actually fire the weapons from.[Lt. Commander Bruce Russell, Weapons Engineering Officer]It's simply simulating the submarine actually beingused for what it's intended.

    • 33:31

      SPEAKER B6: Classified Oscar.[RADIO DISPATCH]

    • 33:37

      BRUCE RUSSELL: Stand by.

    • 33:38

      SPEAKER B7: Valid active contact.[RADIO DISPATCH]

    • 33:50

      BRUCE RUSSELL: The command systemuses various algorithms to work out where wethink the target's going to be.And then once we've got a pretty good fire controlsolution on the target, then we'lltry and fire a weapon at it.

    • 33:60

      SPEAKER B8: Valid active contact, bearing one four six,range 10,700 yards.

    • 34:04

      SPEAKER B6: That is the target.Continue attack.

    • 34:06

      SPEAKER B8: Roger.Continue the attack.[RADIO DISPATCH]

    • 34:17

      BRUCE RUSSELL: Weapon is in weapon mode.

    • 34:19

      SPEAKER B4: It's going very well.I think the crew were very impressed,and certainly our team were very impressed.We've all worked very hard, it's been a very long day.And I think we've all got something out of this.

    • 34:29

      NARRATOR: With the command deck fully operational,the last major engineering feat is also the most difficult.The submarine's nuclear reactor willneed to be switched on for the first time.And this means it's coming under close scrutinyby the man charged with ensuring the vessel issafe and ready to be delivered to the Royal Navy.

    • 34:50

      SPEAKER B4: It's all kind of come together.

    • 34:54

      DAVE HAMBLY: We're gonna test everything,cooking our curry and lasagna.[Dave Hambly, Galley Chef] We're gonnaserve it to an Admiral in about an hour's time.Aft first.I've been on two different types of submarines before,and this is the biggest galley I've ever been on.It's absolutely massive.

    • 35:10

      NARRATOR: The Admiral has come to hear firsthandhow close they are to switching the nuclear reactor onand taking the submarine to sea.

    • 35:18

      SIMON LISTER OBE: Who's in?Hello, hello.How do you do?

    • 35:22

      COLTON: Colton [INAUDIBLE], sir.

    • 35:23

      DAVE HAMBLY: Generally adjusting on the working environment,it's not bad at all.It's not so hot that you can't work in it.

    • 35:31

      SIMON LISTER OBE: Where are we having lunch?In here?

    • 35:32

      SPEAKER B9: In here, sir.

    • 35:32

      SIMON LISTER OBE: Excellent.Good.

    • 35:33

      DAVE HAMBLY: Him having a bit of dinneris just sort of a bit of a bonus for him, really.

    • 35:36

      SIMON LISTER OBE: I'm keen to hear what it's like [INAUDIBLE]

    • 35:38

      DAVE HAMBLY: The main priority is justto make sure everything works and we can actuallywork in here.

    • 35:42

      SIMON LISTER OBE: Which of the defectshave emerged that give you a sensethat we're gonna have a tricky month ahead of us?I'm in charge of purchasing submarines for the Ministerof Defense. [Rear Admiral Simon Lister Obe, DirectorGeneral, Submarines] And it's my jobto make sure that the purchasing operation is well-founded,and that the programs that we're hearing from the company

    • 36:03

      SIMON LISTER OBE [continued]: are sensible and real, and we're getting valuefor money out of them.And wrestling the boat from the dock-- thatsounds like a negative thing, but wrestlingthe boat out of the hands of the dockyard that have loved itis what we do.

    • 36:16

      NARRATOR: The Rear Admiral will have regular meetingsto track the progress of the submarineas it gets closer to being handed over to the Royal Navy.

    • 36:24

      JOHN HUDSON: We have meetings Admiral Lister at leastonce a fortnight.We'd originally hoped to be ready to go to sea late summer,and we're a bit later than that now.We've had no fundamental issues, but wehave had some minor teething problems and difficulties.Nothing major, but a few obstacles that we've hadto overcome.

    • 36:41

      NARRATOR: The Astute is almost four years lateon its delivery, and estimated to be overspentby around 800 million pounds.BAE Systems inherited some of these problemsback in the 1990s before they owned the company.Design and contractual issues hampered the early stagesof the project, and apprentice schemeshad been stopped, which meant skills were being

    • 37:03

      NARRATOR [continued]: lost from an aging workforce.In 1999 when they took over the shipyard,BAE Systems had to implement new design technologyand reintroduce the apprentice scheme.Only now is the first of seven vessels about to bedelivered to the Royal Navy.

    • 37:22

      PAUL KNIGHT: What drew me to the submarine service,particularly as an engineer, was the nuclear aspect.I find it quite fascinating that we can produce so much energyfor a submarine all in such a small tube going aroundthe world for months at a time doing things that people

    • 37:43

      PAUL KNIGHT [continued]: don't necessarily know about.I'm a keen biker.It's a beautiful ride in.The Lake District is my favorite place in the country,and living in [INAUDIBLE] is a beautiful little villageas well, with some special attractions.

    • 37:57

      NARRATOR: Commander Paul Knight is overseeingthe nuclear reactor being switched on,the last job before the boat can leave the dock.

    • 38:06

      PAUL KNIGHT: The design of our reactor is confidential.We don't want to let the design out,because it does give indications of the performanceof the submarine.And also, the technology that's behind itis obviously valuable to the nation,and we wouldn't want to share with other nations.You take the reactor critical by taking the controlor the reactor core.

    • 38:27

      PAUL KNIGHT [continued]: It starts off very low power, producinga power which you can barely light a light bulb with,all the way up to full power, which is obviouslya confidential figure.I can't tell you.But it's enough really to power a city the size of Southamptonis the comparison we make.

    • 38:57

      PAUL KNIGHT [continued]: [MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 39:16

      PAUL KNIGHT: It's Saturday morning, and September the 5th,and we're starting powerage testing today.

    • 39:32

      NARRATOR: It's just a day like any other in Barrow,but inside the shipyard the reactoris carefully being switched on and monitoredby nuclear engineers.

    • 39:43

      PAUL KNIGHT: OK.Yeah, we got started.That's good.It's the first time we've taken a reactor, a new designof reactor, critical on a submarine for 10 years as well.So it's a very big milestone, not onlyfor the Astute project, but also for the UK as a whole.

    • 40:01

      NARRATOR: The design of the reactor is top secret,but there are some elements that unclassified.It's protected by special shieldingthe weighs around 100 tons, and protects the crewfrom radiation.It's fueled with an incredibly radioactive substance,enriched uranium.When the reactor is started up for the first time,

    • 40:21

      NARRATOR [continued]: a neutron is fired into a uranium atom.That uranium atom splits, or fissions,releasing energy and freeing more neutrons thattrigger the same process of splitting and surroundinguranium atoms.Once this chain reaction becomes self-sustaining,the reactor is said to be critical,and is generating an enormous amount of heat.

    • 40:42

      PAUL KNIGHT: Once we've ensured that the design is correct,the instrumentation is correct, we then move upin power in gradual steps, resulting in,two weeks' time, full-power operations.

    • 40:53

      NARRATOR: The huge amounts of energy the reactor is creatingis used to heat water.The water, under extremely high pressure--which prevents it from boiling-- passes a heat exchanger,which contains another circuit of waterat a much lower pressure.This water does boil, and creates steam.The steam drives turbines, and the turbines

    • 41:16

      NARRATOR [continued]: generate all the power the submarine needs.The Astute is, in part, an old-fashioned steam engine,though coupled with 21st century nuclear technology.

    • 41:27

      PAUL KNIGHT: Yeah, it's been not just a week,it's been a tough few months, really, getting here.Definitely.So it's a relief, I guess, for a lot of people.We've worked very, very hard.And, fingers crossed, it should all go smoothly.And we're one step closer to exiting Barrowand taking this submarine to sea and handing itover to our Navy.

    • 41:48

      NARRATOR: The submarine's reactorwill go through weeks of testing before it's deemed readyand fully functioning.But eventually, there is nothing leftto stop the Astute from finally leavingBarrow-- except the weather.But the warm summer is a distant memory.She'll be sailing in November.Commander Andy Coles is preparing his crew

    • 42:08

      NARRATOR [continued]: for the exit.

    • 42:09

      ANDY COLES: We're just doing the final preparationsand final checks.Ready to sail tomorrow.I'll show you as much as I can within the bounds of legality.Welcome aboard.Let's come this way please.We're in the center of the control room.[Commander Andy Coles Obe, HMS Astute] And in front of me,I've got ship control.To the left-hand side I've got sonar,

    • 42:31

      ANDY COLES [continued]: and to the right-hand side I've got the combat system.This is where I sit, and when I'm not here,this is where the officer of the watch sits.And this is my cabin.This is where I sleep and work.So I spend my time between the control room and here.

    • 42:52

      ANDY COLES [continued]: I have screens here which show me the tactical picture,and I can see what's going on in the periscope.OK, I'm now converting my chair into the bunk, whichis where I sleep at night.I've got communications right next to me,and everything's been all lined upso it's above the level of the bunk.So in bed when they call me, I can see everything from bed.

    • 43:14

      ANDY COLES [continued]: That's quite good.You can tell what day of the week it is by the food.OK?We always has fish and chips on Friday.And you get to look forward to those nights as well.

    • 43:34

      ANDY COLES [continued]: We get all the ugly ones out.This is the senior mates' mess.Follow me.OK.This is the senior mates' mess.This is one of the three messes we have on board.On the other side of the corridor,this is the junior mates' mess.Exactly the same as the senior mates' mess,but this is for the junior mates.

    • 43:49

      JOHN NUTTALL: It's a little bit more homey now.We've got nice chairs and that lot.[John Nuttall, Tactical Systems Specialist]More comfortable living arrangements-- got PlayStation,Xbox, big telly, media center, and it's justcoming together now, so we're allready to go to sea [INAUDIBLE].

    • 44:11

      ANDY COLES: I think you have to have a certain temperamentto be a submariner.You have to be able to get on with peopleand work in a very small space.We don't tend to be quite so clipped and so formalas other areas of the Navy.It's just a matter of the environment which we live in.The senior mates live in two different mess decks.And this is one of them.We utilize the maximum amount of space,

    • 44:31

      ANDY COLES [continued]: using three racks on either side.Each man has at least one locker.And underneath each bunk is storage as well.But we're experts at living on the minimum amount of clothing.We're up on the foreign navigation position,commonly known as the bridge on the submarine.

    • 44:53

      ANDY COLES [continued]: As you can see, we get a very good view from here.It's even more precise, I think, than beingon the bridge of a ship, because youcan feel the elements working with youor working against you.And you're able to take action against them quickly.Tomorrow represents a really key point for us,which is the move away from this dock down to Ramsden Dock.And so therefore, with the tug's assistance,

    • 45:15

      ANDY COLES [continued]: we'll be going through that bridge and down to Ramsden Docktomorrow.Clearly trying to sail in mid-Novemberis a risk with the weather.And the weather forecast over the next two daysthis is not ideal.We've already got a freshening wind,which we can feel in our hair now.And it's going to get stronger over the next 24 hours.But everybody's attention is on us at the moment.This is a key point for the Royal Navy, bring Astute out.

    • 45:36

      ANDY COLES [continued]: And so if I get that wrong, I'm certainlyaware of the immense scrutiny that will be coming down on me.[November 14th 2009]

    • 45:48

      NARRATOR: It's November the 14th, 2009,and the first new British submarine for 10 yearsis about to sail out into the open sea for the veryfirst time.Originally planned for the summer,the submarine's last hurdle to exitis the uncertainty of the British weather.

    • 46:07

      SPEAKER B10: Submarines maneuver extremely well underwater,but on the surface they're not quite so good at maneuvering.So we need some tug assistance.We're going to bring alongside four very powerful tugs.And then we will maneuver the submarinethrough the lock system under the Michaelson RoadBridge, round to Ramsden Dock in preparation for exit.

    • 46:34

      PAUL KNIGHT: There's been a lot of effortfrom everyone involved here.It's been fraught with some interesting conversationsand some emotions that have come out.The crew are ready.The tugs are ready.The wind has finally dropped.So we got one window of opportunitybefore it starts getting dark.So, it's a good day.

    • 47:00

      PAUL KNIGHT [continued]: [MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 47:33

      SPEAKER B10: It is quite narrow here.The submarine is 38 meters wide.So it is quite a challenging thing.And you can see the challenge to beable to get through this narrow gap.[MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 48:07

      PAUL KNIGHT: We've been eating, drinking,breathing this submarine and gettingit ready for this moment.Now that we can step back and watch it go through,it's a really, really a great moment, actually.[MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 48:28

      PAUL KNIGHT [continued]: Something that the country should really be proud of.First time that we've launched a new submarine out of herefor 10 years.So it's a hell of an achievement, actually.Yeah.[MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 48:54

      NARRATOR: The whole process will take two days.But at 9:15 on Sunday the 15th of November,the gate holding back the sea has been safely lowered,and the submarine leaves Barrow for the first time.She will never return.[MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 49:29

      NARRATOR [continued]: Once free of shallow water, the tugs will departand her reactor will take over, silently poweringthe Astute through the ocean.[MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 49:41

      SPEAKER B11: Started off as a team leaderon the Astute, which just got out.I've got fantastic pride.That's what I felt. I would want to see more of these--and not with 10 year gaps, either.

    • 49:59

      SPEAKER B12: I worked on bunk two.I need to make sure that we knuckle down,and we can have a day like this in years to come.[MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 50:10

      SPEAKER B13: It was built slowly and carefullyby a lot of dedicated people.And it's a wonderful thing to see it going now-- I'msurprised, actually, to see how fast it was cruising alongthere.

    • 50:22

      NARRATOR: It's taken 14 years to get to this moment.But for almost 5,000 people in the shipyard,tomorrow is another working day.They'll clock on as usual, and continuebuilding the next Astute submarine--one of the world's most complicated and secretivemachines.[MUSIC PLAYING]

A Nuclear Submarine

View Segments Segment :


Barrow-in-Furness is a town in the English Lake District that has a history of building submarines and an economy based on the shipyard. In 2009, the shipyard built the first new British submarine in 10 years, and it is one of the most technologically advanced machines in the world. This program examines how they build the submarines and how a nuclear reactor powers the ship.

A Nuclear Submarine

Barrow-in-Furness is a town in the English Lake District that has a history of building submarines and an economy based on the shipyard. In 2009, the shipyard built the first new British submarine in 10 years, and it is one of the most technologically advanced machines in the world. This program examines how they build the submarines and how a nuclear reactor powers the ship.

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