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Cammell Laird – Supporting Britain’s Hunter-killer Submarine Programme

posted on November 20, 2019 categories Project News

Cammell Laird has a proud history of shipbuilding that stretches back almost 200 years, a large part of which is closely tied to Britain’s submarine fleet.

The company’s Birkenhead shipyard was a leading centre for submarine production in the 20th century, with 69 boats built by Cammell Laird on behalf of the Royal Navy between 1915 and 1992. A new chapter began with the award of a contract to produce modules for Britain’s new Astute-class, hunter-killer submarines. Preparations for the first phase of the project began in August 2014, with work commencing in early 2015.

Although Cammell Laird will never enter whole submarine production again, the yard is proud use its facilities and considerable experience of modular construction projects to support such vital national submarine building programmes.

World-class facilities

Cammell Laird’s facilities, layout and its location on the banks of the River Mersey make the shipyard ideally suited to large fabrication projects. The shipyard’s modular construction hall is one of the largest of its kind in Europe and allows large, project-specific modules to be constructed undercover without environmental interference.

Also key to the production and delivery of large steel units is Cammell Laird’s non-tidal wet basin. This facility provides access to the River Mersey and the west coast of Britain, and allows ocean-going barges to be loaded over a 24-hour period without tidal restrictions. Thanks to the non-tidal wet basin, large structures that would be difficult or even impossible to move by road can instead be easily and safely transported by sea.

Britain’s hunter-killer submarine programme

The UK’s state-of-the-art Astute-class boats are the largest and most advanced attack submarines to enter service in Royal Navy history. The seven-strong fleet is the replacement for Britain’s Trafalgar-class submarines, equipped with Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

In support of BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines, Cammell Laird was contracted to use its modular construction expertise to assist with the construction of boats five, six and seven. The project was split into three parts and involved the production of Command Deck Modules, Manoeuvring Deck Modules, tanks, casings (Bhds Decks) and a forward end construction.

The project made full use of Cammell Laird’s non-tidal wet basin, as the completed components were all transported by sea from Birkenhead to BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness.

Cammell Laird Apprentice Training Programme

Up to 60 Cammell Laird employees were involved in producing modules for the Astute boats, including steel workers, welders, grinders and quality control specialists. Cammell Laird apprentices were also involved throughout, providing them with a unique opportunity to appreciate the quality requirements necessary for the construction of a nuclear-powered attack submarine.