• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

Royal Navy nuclear surface ships

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
1,272
Reaction score
26
although no pictures exist there is supposed to be a model of the proposed RFA replenishment ship with nuclear power in the massive Greenwich collection. I have never been able to get to see this model, but based on some small drawings of mercantile UK reactor designs in an old Airfix magazine I would guess that the vessel looked like a typical large RFA of the 60s (Resource, Regent etc) but with the funnels replaced by a nuclear funnel like the US commercial ship Savannah.

The UK also looked at nuclear versions of the County, Type 82 and Type 43 designs
 

Antonio

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Messages
3,363
Reaction score
36
What's a nuclear funnel?. What's the role of a funnel in a nuclear ship? ???
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
1,272
Reaction score
26
Sorry, me being dim. If you look at the Savannah you will see it has a funnel style bulge on its superstructure, that is what I was trying to describe..

UK 75
 

RP1

I see the truth in it.
Joined
Feb 22, 2006
Messages
441
Reaction score
0
Website
rp-one.net
I think the bridge shape was intended to look futuristic. The reactor was forward of the superstructure, to allow refuelling:

http://mysite.verizon.net/nealelosge/index.html

RP1
 

Sentinel Chicken

American 71 Heavy, contact departure 126.47
Joined
Jan 17, 2006
Messages
575
Reaction score
1
Website
www.tailsthroughtime.com
pometablava said:
What's a nuclear funnel?. What's the role of a funnel in a nuclear ship? ???
To catch rainwater. Obviously.

Bah-dump-dump! Thank you very much, you're a great crowd, I'll be here until next week..........:D
 

Antonio

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Messages
3,363
Reaction score
36
To catch rainwater. Obviously.
Oh thanks, I never thought about this possibility. ;D
 

TinWing

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Messages
888
Reaction score
7
RP1 said:
I think the bridge shape was intended to look futuristic. The reactor was forward of the superstructure, to allow refuelling:

http://mysite.verizon.net/nealelosge/index.html

RP1
I don't think the reactor was derived from contemporary military reactors, but came from a parallel engineering effort.

Savannah only sailed 3 year between refuelings, which other early American nuclears surface ships and submarines went 12 years between refuelings.
 

RP1

I see the truth in it.
Joined
Feb 22, 2006
Messages
441
Reaction score
0
Website
rp-one.net
I don't think the reactor was derived from contemporary military reactors, but came from a parallel engineering effort.
That would be my understanding of it - the topology shown in the diagrams would be awkward to fit in a submarine (tall and thin), and Babcock & Wilcox didn't design reactors for the USN. Given that this was a civilian plant, using a different design would remove security classifications, also.

As an aside, as I understand it, Soviet submarines also lasted sometimes as little as 3 years between refuelings.

RP1
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
1,272
Reaction score
26
I keep finding references (text only) to a planned RFA for the Royal Navy in the 1960s to be powered with Nuclear Power. No details are given but from talking to people the best guess I have is that it would have been a Stores Replenishment ship along the lines of the RFA Resource/Regent or later Fort Austin/Grange (now Rosalie).

Airfix magazine in the 60s ran an article about proposed merchant ship designs using a UK Atomic Energy Authority Reactor. I had it years ago but not now sadly.

Had the ship been built as the UK's contribution to the 60s nuclear ship building programme I suppose it would have looked much like Resource/Regent but without the funnel.

UK 75
 

TinWing

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Messages
888
Reaction score
7
I do have to wonder if the program in question was an equivilent of the American civilian nuclear ship Savannah?

The Savannah was derived from the common 22,000shp Mariner design, which was basically a sort of modern equivilent of the Victory-ship meant for wartime mass production. The big difference, beyond the nuclear powerplant, was the Savannah had much sharper lines, sacrificing cargo capacity in the forward holds.

Of course, the Savannah had nothing to do with the navy. It was the one nuclear powered ship that Rickover didn't have anything to do with - it was purely an "Atoms for Peace" civilian program. No serious thought was apparently ever given to using the Savannah as a naval replenishment ship. The design process had been exceedingly long, and the ship was very uneconomic to operate in commercial service - despite a good record for safety and reliability.

Since the politics of nuclear propulsion were much simpler in the UK, it isn't hard to imagine that a civilian nuclear powered ship would have almost automatically been a RFA. A long endurance replenishment ship would have had a number of obvious roles in the Cold War era.
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
1,272
Reaction score
26
This may be a rumour, and given the UK's love of daft secrecy I am probably breaking the law, but I hear that among the vast collection of models never likely to be displayed by the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich are various models of ships culled from shelves in offices in the MOD in London, notably the elusive proposed RFA with nuclear propulsion mentioned in some books about the Royal Navy (though not Grove or Moore/Brown).

This is too nice a thing to lurk somewhere on a dusty shelf and ought to be in the Science Museum, if indeed it exists.

UK 75
 

phil gollin

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Joined
Sep 19, 2007
Messages
199
Reaction score
1
Unofficial / official rumour

The National Maritime Museum has for at least the last five years been trying to find a way of showing off most, if not all, of its model collection.

Over the years this has "RUMOURED" changed in scope and direction.

At one stage it was intended, quite firmly - but NOT definitely - that the NMM's collection plus some or all of the IWM's and Science Museum's ship model collections would be gathered together in a refurbished building at Chatham Historic Dockyard. There would not be enough space to display absolutely everything, but most. The project depended on many, many factors, including lottery funding, help from Chatham Historic Dockyard, and the co-operation (and funding) from the other two institutions.

"RUMOUR" has it that the project has foundered on the rock of funding - again "RUMOURED" to be because of reduced government funding to museums in general and that one of the other institutions has pulled out thus meaning that the project is in abeyance.

Maybe someone with some proper contacts may be able update the story.
 

smurf

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
544
Reaction score
0
My understanding, from a conversation at NMM about a month ago, is that this is still on.
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
1,272
Reaction score
26
I started this thread last year and was interested to
read that the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich
as trying to find a way of displaying its vast model
collection.
My particular interest is in a model of a proposed
Royal Navy replenishment ship from the early 60s.
This gleam in the eye is mentioned in various sources
but no mention made of the model. The closest I have
been able to find is an article by the UK Atomic
Energy Authority on civilian atomic cargo and tanker ships
printed in an old Airfix magazine from this period. I must
find someone with some old Airfix mags to see if this is
of any use. Apparently it contains a drawing of a cargo
ship of the same size as the RFA replenishment ships
(Resource and Regent) of the period.
The UK had enough problems fueling its SSN and SSBN
fleet, so this project was more political than military I think, but
I would love to see that model pictured. Anyone have friends
in the MM Greenwich?
UK 75
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
1,272
Reaction score
26
The tanker that was light years ahead.- an article on the excellent historicalrfa site gives full details of the rn brief look in 1960 at an atom tanker. Soon rejected as impractical. Easy to model from rfa olna with ns savannah like housing
 

JFC Fuller

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
3,146
Reaction score
34
uk75, do you have a link to that article? I can not seem to find it on the historical RFA site.
 

starviking

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
946
Reaction score
14
sealordlawrence said:
uk75, do you have a link to that article? I can not seem to find it on the historical RFA site.
I also can't get to the page (I searched for the title on google, but the RFA site was taking too long to respond). However, a bare text version is available from google's cache:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:0nyFqmfQB4UJ:www.historicalrfa.org/archived-stories/1020-the-tanker-that-was-light-years-ahead+http://www.historicalrfa.org/archived-stories/1020-the-tanker-that-was-light-years-ahead&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk&source=www.google.co.uk
 

JFC Fuller

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
3,146
Reaction score
34
After much hunting I managed to find the article in full web version:

http://www.historicalrfa.org/archived-stories/1020-the-tanker-that-was-light-years-ahead
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
1,272
Reaction score
26
Sorry not to put the link in, but I have a new mobile phone and have been using that to
contribute as I do not have a computer at home. Technology not my strong point..

UK 75
 

starviking

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
946
Reaction score
14
sealordlawrence said:
After much hunting I managed to find the article in full web version:

http://www.historicalrfa.org/archived-stories/1020-the-tanker-that-was-light-years-ahead
Still doesn't work for me :'(
 

TomS

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
3,174
Reaction score
98
For the sake of having the information in one place, here's a synopsis of the article:

In 1960, the Ministry of Transport requested proposals for nuclear propulsion solutions for a 65,000 dwt freighting tanker (hull designation YJ127) with around 20,000 shp in a single-shaft arrangement. The hull was eventually defined as having a length of 775 feet, a beam of 112 feet 6 inches, and a maximum loaded draft of 43 feet 6 inches. Speed was 15.5 knots. The reactor was to be either a Boiling Water Indirect Cycle or Organic Liquid Moderated design.

As this project was progressing, the designers were told to study putting a version of the same reactor into a naval replenishment vessel, designated the Fast Admiralty Replenishment Tanker (Y501) whil the commercial vessel became known as Y502. This would have been a 35,000 dwt vessel with two shafts. It appears that the intent was to use the one reactor to drive two turbines and to add a supplemental turbo-electric drive system to each shaft for 5,000 shp. (Presumably this was to provide get-home power in the event the reactor were disabled.)

Here's the one relevant image, which appears to be Crown Copyright or public domain.
 

Attachments

TomS

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
3,174
Reaction score
98
PS: Here is a link to a 1963 New Scientist article on British nuclear ship plans:

http://books.google.com/books?id=vnZM1je9sRIC&lpg=PA393&ots=iR-J3lc_pT&dq=fast%20admiralty%20replenishment%20tanker%20nuclear&pg=PA393#v=onepage&q=fast%20admiralty%20replenishment%20tanker%20nuclear&f=false

This article suggests that the narrative above is not quite correct. It says the initial studies (begining in 1958) were for a replenishment vessel, at about 50,000 shp and a reactor output of 140-170 MW (thermal). Designers were then invited (in 1960?) to prepare a scaled-down design suitable for a 20,000 shp commercial vessel.
 

starviking

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
946
Reaction score
14
If everyone else can see the site, but I can't then it suggests that it's not on my Japanese Net Providers DNS - and so permanently unavailable to me. If there are any pics of the RFA designs could someone post them here?
 

TomS

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
3,174
Reaction score
98
The only art connected to the replenishment vessel is the schematic drawing I've already posted. It's the Y501 Fast Admiralty Replenishment Tanker design.

There are a couple of alternatives if your ISP doesn't seem to be finding the site. For starters, you can use an alternative DNS server -- Google's Public DNS might work better. Or you can try Archive.org.
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
1,272
Reaction score
26
Starviking

The drawing shown may well correspond to the model that is supposed to be in the
Maritime Museum Greenwich Collection which I keep hoping they will find and show.

The proposal was only considered for a short time. As the RFA historical site comments
it was very unlikely that an RFA would have been built with nuclear power. However, they
also agree with my speculation that the RFA Olna large fleet replenishment tanker would
have provided a suitable platform. The appearance of the bridge and superstructure and
housing cowl (funnel substitute) might well have resembled Savannah. Certainly Atomic Energy
Authority drawings in Airfix magazine from the early 60s(which I am still trying to find) showed
cargo and tanker ships looking like Savannah.

The search goes on.
 

JFC Fuller

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
3,146
Reaction score
34
I would suggest that any nuclear RFA would have looked like any other RFA, Savannah looked how she did quite deliberately- 50s/60s high-tech chic. An RFA would have been far more functional.

This effort seems to have been more to frame surface propulsion reactor research rather than to actually design a ship- I suspect that nobody ever expected the RN to build a nuclear RFA.
 

pf matthews

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Joined
Jul 25, 2007
Messages
107
Reaction score
7
I know the Italians had (have) very particular styles in Naval Architecture. but could the attached of the poposed Enrico Fermi give any suggestions for a "Military" RFA??
 

Attachments

TinWing

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Messages
888
Reaction score
7
pf matthews said:
I know the Italians had (have) very particular styles in Naval Architecture. but could the attached of the poposed Enrico Fermi give any suggestions for a "Military" RFA??
A little overarmed as far as guns, wouldn't you say? Italy might be the preeminent supplier of naval guns, but this appears to have been overkill. The drawing appears to be from a modeling club.
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
1,272
Reaction score
26
The design of the Yarrow ship is completely different and much more "conventional" than I expected from a late 50s design. The funnels in particular are an oddity.
 

Sea Skimmer

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Jul 13, 2008
Messages
394
Reaction score
11
RP1 said:
As an aside, as I understand it, Soviet submarines also lasted sometimes as little as 3 years between refuelings.

RP1

The Soviets aimed for about five years between refuelings, but heavy use could drive it as low as two on some early Akula class hulls. This is because they used cheap LEU fuel in the reactors, as did all civilian merchant designs and land power reactors. The USN always used the very high end of HEU fuel, not much different then enrichment levels used for nuclear bomb material, but it was vastly more expensive to produce. Later in the Cold War the Soviets also began to use much higher enrichment levels, the current icebreakers use HEU like the USN does, because they no longer needed to produce more HEU for nuclear weapons. They already had an ample supply and so could shift the manufacturing capacity to reactor fuel without building new facilities. I think the French have always used LEU submarine fuel, the British always HEU. China, no idea.


The latest USN reactors will never need refueling meanwhile, because the US navy developed ways in which to allow overfueling them in the first place. The energy production is then controlled, to avoid melting down, by neutron absorbers which slowly burn off over time, and possible but unconfirmed moving neutron reflectors. End result is the newest SSNs should have 35 year core lives, and the Ford class CVNs 50 years. Though an awful lot of the time in such long service lives will be spent in dock being repaired.
 

pf matthews

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Joined
Jul 25, 2007
Messages
107
Reaction score
7
Found this (part) article from another posting which may help....

In 1960, the Ministry of Transport requested proposals for nuclear propulsion solutions for a 65,000 dwt freighting tanker (hull designation YJ127) with around 20,000 shp in a single-shaft arrangement. The hull was eventually defined as having a length of 775 feet, a beam of 112 feet 6 inches, and a maximum loaded draft of 43 feet 6 inches. Speed was 15.5 knots. The reactor was to be either a Boiling Water Indirect Cycle or Organic Liquid Moderated design.

As this project was progressing, the designers were told to study putting a version of the same reactor into a naval replenishment vessel, designated the Fast Admiralty Replenishment Tanker (Y501) whil the commercial vessel became known as Y502. This would have been a 35,000 dwt vessel with two shafts. It appears that the intent was to use the one reactor to drive two turbines and to add a supplemental turbo-electric drive system to each shaft for 5,000 shp. (Presumably this was to provide get-home power in the event the reactor were disabled.)
In the early 1960’s whilst Cliff Richard was strutting his stuff, skirts were getting shorter and hair was getting longer the Ministry of Transport asked Yarrow’s Admiralty Research Department to seek tenders for the installation of a nuclear reactor power plant in a 65,000 ton deadweight commercial tanker hull with the designation Y127, the ship itself had not actually been designed and the tender was for the feasibility of designing, installing and after care of the nuclear power plant.

In March and April of 1960 meetings were held between English Electric, Hawker Siddley, Babcox and Wilcox, Mitchell Engineering and the Nuclear Power Group to find the best way forward and to consider the requirements for the tender.
The ship was visualised as a commercial freighting tanker of 20,000 shaft horse power, with a single screw, and a reactor of either the Boiling Water Indirect Cycle or, the Organic Liquid Moderated Type. However the tender was not to include the perceived dockside and port facilities that would be required to maintain the nuclear power plant, like the re-fuelling of the reactor and the handling of the spent radioactive fuel, instead the costing’s for this were to be quoted separately.
The closing date for the tender was to have been the 29th July 1960 and a number of meetings of the various firms involved took place prior to this date. The firms involved each brought their own particular expertise to the project, with the Nuclear Power Group (Swan Hunter’s) looking at the design of the stainless steel clad pressure vessel and the primary shielding as well as the proposed design of the ships structure to support the containment facility, English Electric the containment structure, reactor layout and the steam generator plant.
After the initial meetings one problem surfaced that needed to be urgently addressed, so Yarrows asked the Nuclear Power Group for guidance on the rate of sinking of the ship in case of accident, so that they could ensure the containment structure was pressure balanced by flooding at submergence below 100 feet, supposing that the ship was sinking at around 1 foot per second, this raised the question of the valves required to equalize the pressure in the reactor and it was found that further work needed to be carried out to overcome the problem.
Another problem that was to be overcome by the designers of the nuclear power plant and machinery spaces, was the fact that the tender for the hull itself had not actually been called for, so any installation problems would have to be studied without any detailed design or construction plans so it was suggested that the designers needed to enlist the help of both a shipbuilder and a marine engineer.
When the specifications for the ship were put down on paper the length of the tanker was envisaged as 775 feet with a beam of 112 feet 6 inches and a maximum loaded draught of 43 feet 6 inches, and a fully loaded speed of 15.5 knots. The designers also had to look at the possibility of using a commercial hull already building, or in the design stage to the specifications stated, but with modifications to the machinery spaces to accommodate the nuclear plant. This would mean the removal of the boilers and auxiliary machinery, bunkers removed from the engine room tanks and the deep tank forward. The nuclear plant would then have been installed in its own compartment, separated from the ships side by special collision protection; it was then found that the cargo would have to be re-distributed to maintain strength and trim.
The reactor room would then have been placed immediately forward of the engine room, but separated from it by an oil-tight bulkhead and the sides of the reactor room would have been formed by a continuation of the cargo tanks longitudinal bulkheads, with the wing tanks outboard of the bulkheads designed as collision protection.
Just to complicate matter further the group looking at the tender for the nuclear power plant then received instruction to consider the installation of the power plant in a 35,000 ton deadweight Fast Admiralty Replenishment Tanker, which was given the designation Y501, whilst the commercial tanker became Y502.

The Admiralty Replenishment Tanker would in addition to the nuclear power plant, have a turbo-electric drive producing 5,000 shaft horse power and with the nuclear output this would have been 30,000 shaft horse power on each of the two shafts. The design would also have included cargo pumps capable of giving 800 tons per hour when used for replenishment at sea, which would I am sure been very interesting when RASing. The whole of the nuclear powered tanker design programme was finally abandoned in November 1961as not being cost effective or practical,
 

Attachments

JFC Fuller

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
3,146
Reaction score
34
uk 75,

Great find! Could the moerators merge this thread with this other thread covering the same topic: http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,2194.15.html
 

shedofdread

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Nov 14, 2009
Messages
403
Reaction score
13
Is it possible that someone at the Ministry had something of a sense of humour? "35,000 ton deadweight Fast Admiralty Replenishment Tanker"....
 

TomS

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
3,174
Reaction score
98
TinWing said:
Savannah only sailed 3 year between refuelings, which other early American nuclears surface ships and submarines went 12 years between refuelings.
A late comment: USS Nautilus only went about two years each between her first two refuelings in 1957 and 1959. Core design improved very rapidly in the first years of the naval reactors program. The civil program may have lagged a couple of years due to security, but I suspect civilian core design would have improved pretty quickly if the reactors had been widely adopted. Of course, use of less enriched material would have meant that civilian maritime cores could never last as long as military ones.
 

Madurai

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Joined
Aug 17, 2009
Messages
97
Reaction score
0
pometablava said:
What's a nuclear funnel?. What's the role of a funnel in a nuclear ship? ???
As long as we're responding to years-old posts...

There is a reason for a funnel in nuclear surface ships: blowout vents in case of coolant leaks.
 

CNH

CLEARANCE: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2010
Messages
232
Reaction score
0
AS seen in the AEA annual report, ATOM, of 1963.
Discussed in my new book [now at publishers]
 

Attachments

JFC Fuller

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
3,146
Reaction score
34
CNH said:
AS seen in the AEA annual report, ATOM, of 1963.
Discussed in my new book [now at publishers]
CNH, may I ask what the title is?
 
Top