23 Aug 2018

The UK’s submarine fleet plays a ‘stealth’ role in the front line of the country’s defence. Sometimes known as the Silent Service, the Royal Navy’s submarines are generally required to operate undetected, seeing everything without being seen.

The service currently operates seven fleet submarines (SSNs), of the Trafalgar and Astute classes (with four currently planned or under construction), and four ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), of the Vanguard class. To take an Astute class of submarine as an example, each costs over £1bn and is home to a crew of 98. And three things are at a premium onboard such a high-tech craft – oxygen, space and weight.

Safety first for those that safeguard us

An Astute class submarine can be underwater for up to 90 days at a time, hundreds of metres below the surface, in some of the planet’s most inhospitable environments.

So when the Royal Navy required a Combined Oxygen Generating System (COGS) and CO2 removal systems for Astute, they chose the world’s leading solutions from TP Group.

One thing submariners are not short of is seawater, so TP Group’s smart technology uses electronically charged membranes to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen. It also uses a novel way of managing the hydrogen, carbon monoxide and other gases to create the optimum safe environment for submariners.

Onboard a submarine, space really is a final frontier

Despite having over 11,000 components, the TP Group system is compact.

The COGS equipment removes the need for an additional hydrogen compressor and hydrogen burner, which reduces footprint and weight and simplifies the processes and technologies needed to work effectively. Overall, the TP Group solution is cheaper, lighter, quieter, smaller and easier to operate than the existing Low Pressure Electrolyser (LPE) and Gas Plant Management (GMP) equipment.

Understandably, the technology is tested to the most stringent standards to operate successfully to the highest performance and reliability levels.

Once the TP Group system was qualified for use on Astute and Vanguard platforms, contracts were awarded for two COGS units per submarine, on both new boats and those requiring retro-fitting. The COGS design is also to be fitted to Dreadnought for the Successor programme.

To successfully complete the 12 to 18 month contract to time, budget and specification, TP Group Maritime Portsmouth has 72 staff plus resident site engineers at the Royal Navy Dockyards at Devonport and Faslane.

Long service with the Royal Navy

TP Group has worked with the Royal Navy since the late 1950s.

The relationship with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and shipbuilder BAE has grown over the years with equipment installed on the Valiant, Resolution, Swiftsure, Trafalgar, Vanguard and Astute classes It’s soon to be onboard the successor to the Vanguard class, Dreadnought.

What’s more, over the last 15 years TP Group’s reputation and products have also extended their reach, from Europe to the Far East and Australia.

"We are market leaders in the design, manufacture and support of air purification equipment technology, specifically in the defence sector for naval ships and submarines where we provide high integrity equipment for critical applications at competitive prices. We have masses of experience in this field and the necessary skills and capabilities to meet the requirements of our customers – in this case the MoD and Royal Navy – successfully. I’m proud of the way our team is helping to keep our submariners safe, while helping the tax payer save money in the build of new nuclear submarines and refurbishment of existing platforms."

Andy Buxcey, Technical Account Manager at TP Group