Three and a half years after she was last submerged at sea HMS Victorious left Devonport, Plymouth, today (Thursday 10 July) sailed through Plymouth Sound and out to sea where she begins six months of trials.
The Trident missile submarine has been undergoing a major over haul (Long overhaul period) (Refuel), worth around £270m by Babcock Marine, at Devonport Naval Base since January 2005 and includes fitting the latest ‘H’ core fuel into the reactor. The new reactor does not need refuelling and will power Victorious throughout her operational life.
Defence Equipment and Support Minister Baroness Ann Taylor said: ”These major works over a three-year-long period have completely regenerated HMS Victorious for her next commission. An essential part of the MoD’s commitment to effectively equipping our armed forces is investment in the maintenance of our current equipment throughout its service life.
“An important element of this investment is sustaining the specialist skills base that exists at Devonport as the dedicated home of submarine refits in the UK .”
More than 80 design addition and alternations have been made, the most significant of which is the upgraded weapons systems which improve tactical and strategic capability.
Others include; a new propulsor and tail shaft, major overhaul of the safety critical 650kw motor generators, survey, repair and represervation of the huge main ballast tanks, substantial torpedo tube overhaul and upgrades and inspection of the main engines, gearbox, and turbo generators.
Director of In-Service Submarines at MoD Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Alasdair Stirling said: “Fitting a new reactor core is a complex and technically demanding procedure that is carried out with the highest regard to safety and reflects the skill of Babcock Marine workers.
“The scale of the works has necessitated close working with Babcock Marine company to manage the programme and the success of the package demonstrates how the MoD works with industry to support the armed forces.
“Over the coming six months the sea trials will test the new capabilities and also give the crew the opportunity to try out the new accommodation which they were involved in helping redesign, given it is their home for months at a time.”
HMS Vigilant will be the next of the four-strong Vanguard-class to receive this major overhaul.
Refit milestones: January 2005 HMS Victorious arrived in Devonport, November 2006 refuelling completed, October 2007 flood-up, June 2008 final reactor testing, June 2008 pre-sea trials inspection and finally on July 2008 sea trials commenced.
Refit statistics: Over 2.2million man-hours, a total of 10,000 workers have been involved at various stages in the strip-out and overhaul of 14,000 items on board and another 2,600 new items have been manufactured.
The package also included 10,000 surveys carried out, 6,500 welds, 8,000 acoustic exterior tiles replaced, 400 systems tested by Devonport test organisation and 80 additions and alterations.
HMS Victorious facts: Length 149.9 metres by 12.8 metres by 12 metres, weight 15,980 tonnes dived, speed 20 knots-plus, armaments 16 Trident II D5 missile launchers and Spearfish torpedoes. She entered service in 1995 and is based at Faslane, Scotland.
HMS Victorious is one of four Vanguard Class submarines. The primary role of the class is nuclear deterrent, equipped with the Trident weapon system. The class of submarine is also equipped with a comprehensive range of sensors, decoys and a powerful torpedo armament for use in self-defence.