Waterbodies & Maritime => Chatham Dockyard => Topic started by: kyn on February 04, 2016, 20:08:23

Title: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: kyn on February 04, 2016, 20:08:23
The enclosed draft Admiralty Board memorandum sets out the case for adapting Chatham Dockyard to refit and refuel nuclear submarines, on the assumption that the capacity which is now being created at Rosyth – and which could not be further increased within the time available – will become inadequate for the needs of our growing nuclear submarine fleet by 1968/69.

2.   Although a final decision on the size of the PLOARIS Fleet has not yet been taken, the probability is that we will need a second nuclear yard by the end of 1968 because of the overlap between the refits of DREADNOUGHT and VALIANT.  On the assumption which seems a likely one, that the S.S.B.N. refitting programme at Rosyth will overlap substantially with WARSPITE in 1970, a second yard will have to be ready for WARSPITE by mid-1969; and indeed, on any assumption about the S.S.B.N’s, if the S.S.N. refits turn out to need more than twelve months (which is a distinct possibility) a second yard would be needed by mid-1969 to cope with an overlap between VALIANT and WARSPITE.

3.   It is already very late to start preparing another Dockyard in time for late 1968; and not too soon to begin if mid-1969 is the target.  There are a number of hurdles to be cleared with other Government Departments – notably the Treasury, Board of Trade, Scottish Development department (who will press the claim of Rosyth) and Ministry of Labour – after the Secretary of State for defence has been consulted.

4.   In view of this, I suggest that an early discussion by the Admiralty Board is desirable; and indeed the Vice Controller has asked for this memorandum to be tabled for the Board meeting on 4th February.

5.   It is accordingly submitted for approval to circulate.

**** Jeffrey
Head of Material Division 2 (Naval)
11th January, 1965

Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: conan on February 05, 2016, 00:20:11
Very interesting Kyn, I'm wondering if the presence of the Richard Montgomery out in the estuary nipped this one in the bud?
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: kyn on February 05, 2016, 16:18:26
There are a few more documents to go, which I haven't read!  We will have to see how it pans out :)
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: grandarog on February 05, 2016, 18:51:05
Unless I am badly mistaken, Chatham Dockyard hosted Nuke Subs, whether they had refits or just maintenance I don't know. My cousin was in the Radiation Monitoring dept.
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: Bryn Clinch on February 05, 2016, 19:45:08
They certainly did, Grandarog. My nephew, a coppersmith, worked on them and is now at Devonport.
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: Signals99 on February 06, 2016, 01:57:13
Grandarog, you are not mistaken. Chatham yard did a number of nuclear refits and refuels, the last one being the decommissioning of HMS Dreadnought. I was employed as a band eighteen Health Physics Monitor involved in six refits. The only reason we got HMS Dreadnought was because she was so dirty radiologically, so no other Yard would touch her. I still recall the management slogan "last but best". Pure cynicism.
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: Bilgerat on February 06, 2016, 08:01:56
There is a lot of info on the Forum about nuclear powered submarines at Chatham. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall that the reason HMS Dreadnought was so dirty was because they had an accident at the (then) new Nuclear Complex at Devonport which contaminated the inside of the boat.

HMS Dreadnought is now at Rosyth laid up, with her fin removed and hatches welded shut, waiting for the government to make a decision on her fate.
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: kyn on February 06, 2016, 19:43:19

Second Nuclear Dockyard

I understand from P.O. (N) that the development of Chatham as a second nuclear dockyard has now been concurred in by the Ministers in receipt of the Minister (R.N.)’s minute of 19th February (not all addressees).

2.   On the assumption that as proposed, the Minister (R.N.) will wish to make the announcement during his opening speech in the Debate on the Navy Estimates this Thursday, 11th March, I now enclose drafts of:-
(a)   the proposed statement;
Answers to possible supplementary questions; and
Letters for U.S. of S. (R.N.) to send on 10th March to the Members of Parliament for Rochester and Chatham and for Gillingham and to the Vice Chairman of the Navy Department Industrial Whitley Council.

These take into account comments made on earlier drafts circulated (not to all addressees) with Head of MAT. 2 (N)’s loose minute N/MAT.7124/64 of 10th February.

3.   Drafts of letters for Vice Controller to send to Vickers Armstrong and Cammell Laird on 10th March were submitted with Head of MAT. 2 (N)’s loose minute of 19th February.

4.   Following the precedent established when the choice of Rosyth as the first nuclear yard was announced in 1963, Vice Controller may wish on the morning of 11th March to pass the test of the Minister (R.N.)’s proposed statement by confidential signal to the Admirals Superintendent Dockyards in the United Kingdom.  If so, perhaps Sec. to C.N.S.T. could check the final wording of the announcement and the embargo time with P.S. to Minister (R.N.).  In 1963 an embargo time of 1630 hours was imposed.

5.   I should draw attention to two comments made by the Department of Economic Affairs:-
(a)   The Department are anxious that it should be made clear in reply to supplementary questions that the choice of Chatham has been dictated by technical and economic factors and does not imply a retreat from the Government’s policy of limiting development in South East England.  This is dealt with in the draft answers to the first and sixth supplementaries;
(b)   The Department also suggest that in the main statement the phrase “facilities at Chatham, our traditional submarine yard” should be replaced by “facilities at Chatham, which are the most suitable for the purpose” or words to this effect.  The Minister (R.N.) may wish to consider such an amendment, which is, of course, designed to draw attention to the thorough review of technical and economic factors which has led to the choice of Chatham for this role.

9th March, 1965
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: kyn on February 07, 2016, 17:09:16

Development of Chatham Dockyard for Nuclear Submarine Refitting Work (Draft Announcement for Use in Navy Estimate debate, 1965)

“With three nuclear hunter/killer submarines soon to be in commission, to be followed by the four POLARIS boats and other hunter/killers in due course, it has become clear that refitting facilities additional to those now being developed at Rosyth will be needed on order to support our growing nuclear fleet.  It has therefore been decided that facilities at Chatham, our traditional submarine yard, should be adapted for this task.

Construction work will begin next year and it is hoped to complete the adaption by 1968.  Chatham will then become a normal refitting and refuelling port for submarines of DREADNOUGHT and VALIANT CLASS, leaving Rosyth to concentrate of the POLARIS boats.”


Development of Chatham Dockyard for Nuclear Submarine Refitting Work
Notes for Supplementaries

Q.   Why has Chatham been selected in preference to other yards?
A.   Chatham has been selected after careful consideration of all the economic and technical factors involved.  Chatham has unrivalled experience of the construction and repair of conventional submarines, which is an essential requisite for the nuclear task.  For this reason, it offered the best prospect of meeting our requirements within the time available, and in the most economical way.

Q.   What about the navigational objections to Chatham which were mentioned when the selection of Rosyth to be the first nuclear refitting yard was announced in 1963?
A.   The access to Chatham is more difficult than it is to some other ports, notably Rosyth, and that is one of the reasons why Rosyth was selected to be the first nuclear yard.  However, there are navigational risks in all port approaches, and provided the times of entry and leaving are chosen to suit the weather and other conditions, (as they can be for normal refitting work), the risks in the Edinburgh Channel should be insignificant.

Q.   But this is not what was said two years ago?
A.   In 1963 it was a question of selecting a single nuclear refitting port with the needs of emergency work as well as of normal planned refits in mind.  We are not choosing a second and alternative yard, which will not normally be required for emergency dockings.  We have also had some practical experience in the last two years of navigating DREADNOUGHT in confined waters, and this has shown that the problem is not so great as previously thought.

Q.   Isn’t nuclear refitting work dangerous to the public?
A.   Not if proper precautions are taken, as they will be, of course.

Q.   Even so, Chatham is surely very close to London?
A.   No.  London is over thirty miles away from Chatham.  This is well beyond any possible risk of danger from nuclear refitting.  We are only concerned in our precautions with an area in the immediate vicinity of the refitting berths, that is to say, within a distance measured in yards rather than miles; and as I have said, these precautions will be extremely thorough.

Q.   Could this development not have been placed in an area of low employment, rather than in the prosperous South East?
A.   We considered very carefully the use of Rosyth.  Rosyth is, however, a comparatively small yard, which would have had to be expanded considerably to cope with the task.  We decided that this expansion could not have been achieved economically, or within the time available and without upsetting the nuclear refitting program already planned.  On the other hand, Chatham, which is nearly twice the size of Rosyth, needs very little development.  It is very largely a matter of modernising and adapting facilities which exist there already and which would have to be modernised anyway sooner or later.  Our decision will not add to the pressure on the South east; with some re-arrangement of the Dockyard program, the yard should be able to absorb the task with not much more than an adjustment of the balance of the present labour force.

Q.   What about commercial firms?
A.   Our choice of these was strictly limited by the absence, in most of them, of any basic submarine expertise, which cannot be acquired quickly.  In any case, we would not reckon to establish warship repair facilities outside the Royal Dockyard, whose main function this is, unless they were incapable for some reason of doing the work.  We also bore in mind the fact that the submarine firms, which are specially laid out for building, already have substantial submarine orders on hand.

Q.   Will Chatham be used to build nuclear submarines?
A.   As I have said in answer to the Hon. Member for Gillingham’s question on 15th February, we have no plans to build or base nuclear submarines at Chatham.  At present we cannot foresee a need for any nuclear building capacity additional tot hat already available at Vickers (Barrow) and Cammell Laird.

Q.   Will POLARIS submarines be refitted at Chatham?
A.   As I have said, it is planned to refit the POLARIS boats at Rosyth; though they could use Chatham if the need arose, provided that their missiles were removed beforehand – as they will be before refitting commences.

Q.   What will the adaption of Chatham cost?
A.   This will depend on the working out of the details which is about to begin; but I would think between £1m and £2m.
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: conan on February 07, 2016, 21:19:56
Very interesting Kyn, I'm wondering if the presence of the Richard Montgomery out in the estuary nipped this one in the bud?

Oh well, how wrong could a chap be :)
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: kyn on February 07, 2016, 21:49:11
With the amount of information on the forum we can't remember all of it :)
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: kyn on February 08, 2016, 18:52:55

Draft Letter for U.S. of S. (R.N.) to send to the M.P’s for Rochester & Chatham and Gillingham
(Portion in Square Brackets for M.P. Gillingham only)

I am writing to let you know that we will be announcing in the Navy Estimates Debate tomorrow that, with three nuclear submarines soon to be in commission, and with others to follow in due course, we shall need refitting facilities beyond those which are not being developed at Rosyth in order to support them; and that we have now decided that Chatham, which is our traditional submarine yard, should be adapted for nuclear work.  Construction work will begin next year and should be completed by 1968.  Chatham will become a normal refitting port for boats of the DREADNOUGHT and VALIANT Class.

2.   [You will no doubt recall the statements which were made in 1963 in which it was explained why it was not then possible to select Chatham in preference to Rosyth as the first nuclear refitting yard.  Since then several things have happened to make the development of Chatham both necessary and possible.

3.   The first is that the implications of refitting and refuelling nuclear submarines have not become much clearer to us; and, with our growing nuclear submarine fleet, it is evident that we must have  a second nuclear dockyard ready a good deal sooner that we previously thought.  The second, of course, is that the development of Rosyth is now well under way.  The significance of this is that we are no longer looking for a single yard which we would have to depend for the entire support, both emergency and routine, of all our nuclear submarines.  Chatham will be used mainly for routine refitting and refuelling of the hunter/killers; this means that the times of entering and leaving the Dockyard through the Edinburgh Channel can be chosen with a fair amount of latitude to suit the weather and other conditions, so that the navigational risks will be very considerably reduced.  Finally, we have now had some 18 months’ practical experience of navigating DREADNOUGHT in confined waters, which has shown us that the difficulty of getting these boats in and out of Chatham will be much less than we originally thought, while Chatham remains well below Rosyth in our order preference for this kind of work, we are satisfied that it is more suitable for development as a second nuclear dockyard than any other port at the present time.  In reaching this conclusion we have given full weight to the technical skill and previous achievement of the staff at Chatham, which you have so rightly stressed in the past.]

4.   As I said in the House on 15th February, we have no intention at present of using Chatham to construct nuclear submarines.  There is already sufficient building capacity available in the country to meet our existing programme without calling on any of the Royal Dockyards for this.  For te next two or three years, however, as you know, Chatham will have some new construction in the shape of the Canadian OBERON’s; and later on, as our fleet of nuclear submarines builds up, the Yard will have a substantial and continuing load of nuclear submarine repair work.

5.   I am sure this news will be welcome to you.  It will give Chatham some further and tangible assurance of the importance which is attached to the Dockyard in the future plans of the Royal Navy.
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: Signals99 on February 09, 2016, 11:22:28
Having followed this theme since it first came on the forum, mainly because I was involved, along with many others, in the refit and refuel of 'nukes in the yard, HMS  Dreadnought  had a plate welded to the forward reactor tunnel bulkhead that stated "you are entering American country" or words to that effect. Everything aft of that point, reactor, steam turbine plus the hull was American built-and on lend lease to the RN. Could we not return it to the rightful owners with our gratitude ? Just a thought😬
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: Dave Smith on February 09, 2016, 15:51:39
Am I reading this correctly or should 3. First para. read "NOW become much clearer", rather than" NOT"?
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: kyn on February 10, 2016, 19:08:24

Implications of Developing Rosyth to Handle a Second Nuclear Refitting Stream

Rosyth is being developed as the first nuclear Dockyard and by 1968 will be able to handle the refitting and refuelling of the POLARIS submarines.  This development will entail expenditure of some £2.5m. on equipment and works services, and the recruitment of 500 workpeople, bringing the total employed at Rosyth to some 4,900.

2.   If a second stream of nuclear submarines were to be refuelled and refitted at Rosyth, still further development would be needed.  From many points of view, Rosyth would be ideally suited for this, being the safest yard in the country, possessing ample space for expansion, and lying in an area of low employment.  But further expansion would, in fact, be impracticable, since:-
(a)   it would cost up to £10-£20m. and require recruitment of 2,500 additional workpeople, compared with expenditure of £1 ½ - 2m. and minimal extra recruitment needed at Chatham; and
(b)   it could not be completed in time to match the expansion of the nuclear submarine fleet.

3.   The reasons for the high cost and big manpower bill involved in any further development of Rosyth for nuclear work may be summarised as follows:-
(i)   At certain stages nuclear submarine refits require exceptionally large numbers of workers in certain trades, notably coppersmiths, shipfitters and electrical fitters.
(ii)   Irradiation levels place stringent limits on the length of time men may be employed on certain nuclear work.
(iii)   A very high degree of skill and reliability is called for in those working on nuclear submarine refits.
(iv)   For those reasons, a reserve of manpower is needed in a nuclear Dockyard, first, to supply the varying demand for certain forms of labour (see (i) above), secondly, to provide reliefs for those being “rested” form nuclear work (see (ii) above), and, thirdly, to form a field of selection which will produce a work force of the high quality needed for nuclear submarine refits (see (iii) above).  We calculate that this reserve should number not less than two-thirds of the total labour force engaged on ship work in the nuclear Yard.

4.   Against this background, we estimate that the addition of a further stream of nuclear submarine refits at Rosyth would increase the force engaged on nuclear refits by 600, from 800 to 1,400, that is to very nearly two-thirds of the total planned ship labour force of 2,400.  To redress the balance and supply a reserve of the size needed, another 1,900 men would have to be fed into Rosyth for ship work and supporting services.  Thus the total labour force would rise by 2,500 from its present planned level of some 4,900 to some 7,400.  (The figures are given in full in Annex A.)

5.   We estimate that, to provide properly balanced employment at Rosyth for a labour force of this size, it would be necessary to build two new dry docks costing £6-8m. altogether (or one new dock with extensive modifications to another to increase its capacity), together with major additions to workshops and other support, facilities, costing perhaps another £3-4m.

6.   To recruit and train, in addition to the 500 men required for the first stream, another 2,500 men for a second stream would be exceedingly difficult, even given the plans for “growth areas” in Central Fife and the Lothians, the construction of new towns at Glenthrothes and Livingston and the opening of the Forth road bridge.  We are in some doubt whether we shall reach out target of 500 extra by 1969 for the single stream; a new target of 2,500 would be five times as great.  A basic problem is housing.  If men were made redundant in the Southern Yards, some might transfer voluntarily to Rosyth; but experience in 1964, when we tried to persuade redundant craftsmen at Devonport to go North, suggests that the response would be poor and that, unless something like 1,500 houses were provided for Dockyard workers, we should not get the men from any source.

7.   Building up Rosyth would mean discharging men and draining off work from the Sothern Dockyards.

8.   In short, to fit in a second stream of nuclear refits at Rosyth would mean increasing the capacity of Rosyth Dockyard by some 75%.
This would be a massive undertaking, whatever the time-scale; but, in our view, it would be virtually impossible of achievement by 1968, when facilities for the second stream of nuclear refits must be available.
It might be impossible to complete the necessary capital developments by 1968, given maximum pressure and good luck; but experience to date fives us no reason to believe that we could secure by 1968 the recruitment of 2,500 extra men, including in precisely the right proportion all the many trades and skills required in ship-repair work, together with a special housing programme of the size needed.

9.   Even if such an expansion could be undertaken successfully at Rosyth, we should be left with a possible insoluble management problem, namely how to plan and execute concurrently with a major expansion programme,
(a)   the first nuclear refit (DREADNOUGHT) ever carried our in this country;
(b)   the refit of VALIANT, which will be very different from that of DREADNOUGHT;
(c)   The refit of the POLARIS submarines, which will be different again from both DREADNOUGHT and VALIANT; and
(d)   a continuing and increasing volume of conventional ship-repair.
Taken together, this would impose an immense burden on the management and would put to risk the performance and safety of the nuclear refitting programme.

3rd March, 1965
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: kyn on February 11, 2016, 19:26:28

Additional Nuclear Submarine Refitting Facilities

On Friday, 26th February, I attended with Assistant Director of Dockyards 5 (Nuclear) a meeting held by the Treasury to discuss Minister (R.N.)’s minute of 19th February to the Chief Secretary.  The Department of Economic Affairs, the Scottish Office and the Ministry of Labour were also represented.

2.   The discussion produced a general acceptance of our case for a second nuclear dockyard and, I think, also of our need, against the approved programme for nuclear submarine construction, to have the second yard ready by 1968.  The Treasury suggested it would have been more convenient to defer a decision until the Autumn, when the Defence Review would have been concluded and the national economic plan completed; but this point was not pressed.

3.   On choice of location, the claim of Devonport and of the commercial yards (Vickers, Cammell Laird and Harland & Wolff) were not pressed, not were those of Portsmouth, which was said by the Department of Economic Affairs to be in the same category as Chatham as far as regional development considerations went.  Discussion accordingly centred on the possible choice of Rosyth.

4.   Here the Treasury, Ministry of Labour and Department of Economic Affairs came out against Rosyth and in favour of Chatham.  For the Department of Economic Affairs the advantages of Rosyth from the standpoint of regional development were far outweighed by the additional £8m. which would be needed to develop a second nuclear yard there rather than at Chatham.  The Scottish Office also accepted the force of these arguments but said that their Ministers would probably wish to have the arguments for and against Rosyth aired at a small meeting of those Ministers principally concerned.

5.   The Department of Economic Affairs subsequently qualified their acceptance of Chatham with the provisos that, if the second nuclear yard were developed at Chatham, this should not be regarded as sufficient grounds for future expansion at Chatham at a later date and that the public announcement should make clear that the choice of Chatham was determined very largely by technical factors, particularly those affecting safety, and indicated no weakening of the Government’s policy of regional development.

6.   If Ministers accept the briefs now being submitted to them by the officials present at this meeting, the next stage should be a reply from the Chief Secretary, generally accepting the proposals in the Minister (R.N.)’s minute of 19th February, and a minute from the Secretary of state for Scotland suggesting a meeting of those Ministers concerned to discuss the arguments for and against Rosyth.  In anticipating of such a meeting, I am preparing a short brief on Rosyth which I shall submit separately.  If I am needed for preliminary oral briefing of the Minister (R.N.) or to be in attendance at the Ministers’ meeting I am, of course, at your disposal.

Head of Material Division 2 (Naval)
1st March, 1965
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: pr1uk on February 12, 2016, 06:18:21
I remember the first nuclear submarine arriving at Chatham. I was a seaman on the tugs and we went down to meet her and escort her up river. There were special fenders made which were towed down and fitted alongside the sub before she came up to the base. It was overkill really with all the fenders and men with geiger counters that were clicking away. Can't remember the name of the first one but it was dirty as we had a couple of so called dirty subs. It was a design fault, I was told the USA had a couple the same class and they filled theirs with concrete and sunk them. Later I was running a fuel barge and had to go to the dock and run a pipe up the side of the dock to fuel one with diesel. When working within the compound you had to wear a badge that was green if the colour changed when there was a leak, of course that never happened.
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: kyn on February 12, 2016, 18:11:19
The Proposal for Direct Sea Dumping of Decontaminant Effluent

1.   Introduction
The case outlined in the report is based on a requirement to dispose of some 300 curies of gross activity (nearly 100% Co60) arising from primary plant decontamination at an initial frequency of once every one to three years.  Our preliminary enquiries indicate that infinite dilution of radioactive discharges into the sea occurs and that this will safeguard any return chains to man.  Details of the major nuclide contributions are shown in Table 3.

The decontamination is carried out from a dumb barge which is towed to the dockyard used for dry docking the submarines (Chatham and Rosyth).  The barge contains equipment necessary for mixing, circulating and flushing out the decontaminants.

It is possible to treat and concentrate the activity using additional equipment installed on the barge, for indirect sea dumping in shielded disposal drums.  However the handling of the active waste arising from the use of these decontaminants raises problems (Section 4).

Sea disposal would avoid these problems and would involve considerable savings to the country by eliminating the need for an effluent treatment system.

2.   Decontamination
The decontamination process chosen is the most effective consistent with acceptable standards of compatibility with plant materials.  It functions on the following principles.

The major part of the plant activity (apart from fission products contained within the core) is associated with the tightly adherent oxide film on primary system surfaces.  Decontamination in this context, therefore, is effected by dissolution of this film and the associated active nuclides.

To bring this about it is necessary to use a two step procedure consisting of:
(a)   A pre-treatment stage with a hot (215°F) strongly alkaline permanganate formulation (designed Turco 4502), followed by interstage rinsing with demineralised water.
(b)   A dissolution stage with a how (185°F) mildly acidic formulation (designated Turco 4521) of ammonium oxalate citrate, corrosion inhibiter, surface active agent and antifoam additives.  This is followed by final rinsing with demineralised water.
The full quantitative details of the actual decontaminant formulations are commercially confidential and hence cannot be divulged.  Some details of the nature of the effluent are included in the next section and in Appendix III.

3.   Nature of the Effluent
If the effluent arising from both cycles of the process are mixed in a single effluent hold tank a partial reaction takes place between the oxalate and the permanganate from the two separate stages resulting in a copious volume of precipitated hydrous Manganese Dioxide, containing a large proportion of the activity.  (95-99% based on limited evidence available, but expected to be highly dependent on conditions).

This forms the basis of the proposed Effluent Treatment System when additional chemicals are added to complete the precipitation, outlined in Appendix II, and where the active precipitate is separated by filtration.

If direct sea dumping is considered however, there may be a requirement to prevent precipitation and maintain the homogeneity of the activity as far as possible.  Appendix III shows chemical parameters of the effluent where Turco 4502 and Turco4521 rinses are kept in two separate tanks.  The small amount of activity present in the Turco 4502 tank is present as finely divided active crud and is not expected to exceed 10% of the total activity.

4.   Comparison of Disposal Methods
As shown in the introduction the design philosophy for dealing with active effluent arising from any process must be to investigate the local treatment and concentration of activity.  The existing effluent treatment plants at Chatham and Rosyth Dockyards are deigned to treat active primary circuit water from the primary plant warm ups and flushings.  This water contains negligible soluble chemicals and very little suspended solids, and is treated by filtration and ion exchange.  The quantity of precipitate and dissolved chemicals present in the decontamination effluent would prevent the use of this method of treatment.

The principle of pre-treatment before discharge lead to the design of the effluent treatment system show in appendix II.  The system is viable in that it uses established principles but would require extensive development.  It could be installed on the Primary Plant Decontamination Barge; however there are disadvantages, some more important than others involved in treating the effluent locally.
(a)   The primary plant is decontaminated in the first place in order to enable routine maintenance, refit work, and refuelling to proceed without incurring excessive “radiation worker burn up”.  Some of the advantages of decontamination the primary plant are therefore lost if the same workers have to operate, maintain and maybe even decontaminate an effluent treatment system on the barge.  Admittedly the barge systems can be shielded to a greater extent than in the submarine primary circuit since shielding weight is not such a great disadvantage, but the activity will be more concentrated and the shielding cannot be unlimited.
(b)   The decontaminants used are highly corrosive and toxic.  However well designed the barge systems are, the incorporation of an effluent treatment system must increase the dangers to operating personnel.
(c)   A considerable number of disposal drums will be needed to contain the active waste arising from an effluent treatment process.  Based on conservative estimates of the waste arisings from the filtration and evaporation stages, 150 to 200 50 gallon drums will be needed for each decontamination process.  This large number is caused by the limiting concentration that can be achieved in the evaporation stage before crystallization of the decontaminant chemicals occurs, and the need to solidify the contents of the drums with concrete or vermiculite to minimise the risk of activity release during transport.  The three day setting time necessary for the concrete used in the barrels means that although the barrels will be filled on the barge, they will have to be lifted and capped on the dockside where storage space is available for setting.  These barrels will have to be stored at the dockyard pending collection by the A.E.A. sea dumping vessel or pending transportation to Harwell.
(d)   In the development of a treatment system, testing on the system components will need to be carried out in some depth.  The filtration system will have to be optimised to give the maximum dewatering of the precipitate.
Tests on the evaporation stage will be mainly involved in methods of collecting, solidifying and disposing the active concentrate.  The decontamination factor required will be easily attained without resorting to a sophisticated evaporator design.  An estimate of the cost of these tests has been made in appendix II and the time penalty in Section 5.  These are optimistic estimates and may well be increased once the testing is initiated and a full awareness of the problems occurs.
(e)   Cost.  This will be discussed in the section 5 of Appendix II.

5.   Time Penalty
An extensive programme of testing and system design work has still to be carried out before the effluent treatment system is released for full procurement.  For these tests to be representative, pilot scale work on the system will have to be set up, including tests (possibly active) on the precipitation process.  This will mean most of the testing will need to be carried out at Harwell and will take several months to complete.  It is unlikely that these tests will be completed before November/December 1969.  The programme of procurement and installation of the effluent treatment system will therefore be 6-9 months behind that for the remainder of the barge equipment.  (Circulating and Mixing System for the decontaminants).  The present target completion fate for equipment installation on the barge of January 1971 could still be met however.  The longest lead item is the evaporator.  If the Harwell tests, and the permitted levels of active and chemical discharge to the Medway show that the evaporator can be of a simple design (i.e. of a low decontamination factor) the January 1971 date is still realistic.

6.   Barge Design for Sea Dumping
If the barge is designed for sea dumping consideration has to be given to whether to dump the two decontaminants separately or to dump them together from a non sectioned tank.  In the latter case some mixing will occur despite the baffling installed and the discharge will contain precipitate with adsorbing activity.  In the former case assurance testing will have to be carried out to determine whether any “plating out” of activity will occur on the effluent tank walls from the Turco 4521 solution.  (This plating out has been observed on coupons of mild and stainless steel suspended in the 4521 solution.)  With stainless steel, the plating out occurs over several weeks, whereas with mild steel the process occurs within a day or two.  Suitable tank linings may solve this problem.

Other work areas include the design of a suitable trailing arm for the sea discharge, a re-appraisal of the barge design (i.e. whether to have a towed ‘dumb’ barge design or a powered barge).  The problems inherent in the navigation of the barge down a busy river like the Medway will be anticipated in suitable collision protection.

7.   Conclusion
The choice to sea dump the decontaminant effluent would involve a considerable cost saving.  It should also remove any doubts about the decontamination barge being completed in time for Warspite’s refuelling.  The design of the effluent treatment system shows that it is feasible to treat the effluent locally as has been done in the past for active waste arisings from nuclear submarines at Faslane, Rosyth and Chatham.  However, thea nature of the decontamination effluent is so unlike previous Dockyard active waste arisings that a departure from the previous philosophy of local treatment is worth considering seriously.  Fortunately at this stage it can be considered without jeopardising the Overall Decontamination Programme, and initial work done on a local barge mounted treatment system provides information regarding the cost and disadvantages of a treatment system for comparison.
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: Bilgerat on February 12, 2016, 19:31:43
I was told the USA had a couple the same class and they filled theirs with concrete and sunk them.

Slightly off-topic, but I'm afraid you were given incorrect information. The United States Navy and the Royal Navy have never had nuclear-powered submarines of the same design. The closest we had was the first British nuclear powered boat, HMS Dreadnought. She had exactly the same powerplant as the American 'Skipjack' class and this was done to save time. The British powerplant, based around the Rolls-Royce PWR reactor, wouldn't have been ready in time to be installed in HMS Dreadnought. That was first installed in HMS Valiant, the second British nuclear boat and the first one which was completely home-grown.

As far as disposal is concerned, the Americans have never filled any of their old boats with concrete and sunk them. What they have done is broken up their old boats (and nuclear powered ships for that matter) around the reactor compartment after removing all the fuel. The reactor compartments after being sealed were then taken to the US Department of Energy's Nuclear Reservation in Washington State where they are stored in the open air. The plan is to eventually bury them. The Americans did dump a nuclear reactor in the Atlantic Ocean in 1959. This had been taken from the USS Seawolf when the reactor was replaced with one of a different design. Subsequent treaties have banned the dumping of any kind of nuclear waste in the sea.

The British have yet to scrap a nuclear powered submarine.
Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: kyn on March 04, 2016, 19:27:05
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Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: kyn on March 04, 2016, 20:37:30
2.   Effluent Tank
The tank is a simple rectangular tank and will be equipped with mixers to ensure complete precipitation.  It has a facility for adding and mixing the chemicals necessary for the precipitation process.  The tan has a sloping base and multiple drain connections for drawing off the effluent which is pumped to the bank of filters.  Clean up of the tank will be achieved by a spray bat and the use of decontaminants if necessary.

3.   Filters
The type of filter element chosen at this stage is a backwash filter with ceramic filter elements and a nylon sleeve.  Tests are being conducted at RRA Derby to evaluate these filters using non active decontaminants.  Harwell experience has shown that these filters are not suitable for the gelatinous precipitates they use, and the same limitations may apply to the arising in this case.  Further work is anticipated therefore on optimising the filtration method.  Whichever method is chosen; backwash filters, rotary vacuum filters or centrifuging, the waste arisings and activity levels should not differ greatly from those shown in Section 1.

4.   Evaporator
The evaporator chosen will be of a simple design, either a steam jacket type of an internal steam coil type.  In this way maintenance and control of the evaporator is minimised.  A feed heater will be used to reduce heat transfer area within the vessel and the evaporator will operate at atmospheric pressure.
The overall decontamination factor of the evaporator will be determined following a fuller evaluation of the filtration methods and the decontamination factor of the precipitate.
The evaporator decontamination factor is defined as

specific activity of feed
Specific activity of distillate

Without the presence of radioactive gases or volatile products a decontamination factor of 105 should easily be obtained.
The evaporator feed may need to be neutralized to eliminate problems of evaporating concentrated potassium hydroxide solutions.  The disposal of the evaporator concentrate, which will contain nearly all the chemicals used for decontamination, is one of the major problems and will form a large part of the development programme for this system.

5.   Cost
At this stage an accurate assessment of the cost of a treatment system situated on the barge cannot be made.  This cost estimate has been compiled using preliminary quotations for components, estimates of testing and chemical support work needed, commissioning and operating costs.


Effluent Tank
Mixers, Chemical Addition Vessel, Sampling, Pipework - £7,500

Effluent Treatment System
Pumps, Filters, Evaporator, Feed Heater, condenser, Tanks, Sampling System, Instrumentation, Shielding, Active waste Disposal Area, Pipework and Valves - £50,000
Installation - £20,000

Support Activity by RRA

Tests, Chemistry, Shielding, Design work - £40,000

Commissioning including non active chemical trial run - £19,500

Total - £137,000

Recurring costs
Operating costs, Barrel cost, chemicals for effluent treatment, A.E.A. disposal charge - £14,400

Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: kyn on March 04, 2016, 21:59:32
Chemical Data on Effluent for Sea Disposal

1.   Process Volumes
The process volumes differ between the two dockyards, Chatham and Rosyth, because of the different lengths of connecting pipework from the barge to the submarine in dry dock.  Parameters given here are for Rosyth since these contain the larger process volumes.

1250 cu. Ft. of each decontaminant are mixed for each decontamination process.  The mix strength of the decontaminants is 1,375 x the working strength in the plant to allow for the efficiency of the charging process and the dilution caused by purge water used to protect components susceptible to attack by Turco 4502 or Turco 4521.

After each stage the chemicals are flushed out with demineralised water until their concentration is sufficiently low to introduce an ion exchange stage.

If the two chemical rinses are kept separate the chemical parameters are as shown in Table 1.

The ion exchange used in each process is 30-60 cu. Ft. containing a total of 1-2 curies.

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Title: Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
Post by: Signals99 on March 08, 2016, 05:10:53
Kyn, to add a small bit to your publication, the decontamination barge at Chatham was designated MAC 1012. I often did radiological surveys aboard it during the decontamination process of nuclear sub pressurised water reactors at Chatham. I read with interest the projected radiation dose rates given.
As stated the main decontamination agent was known as 'turco'; a very dangerous product, best avoided at all costs, the end product was known as 'crud' this was mixed with concrete and contained in steel drums.

I think most of them went to an area near Gillingham gate, known as the solid waste storage area then transported for dumping. As a health physics monitor I was well aware of the effects of ionising radiation, So I took good care to keep my dosage as low as possible .