QinetiQ is supporting the MOD in testing new composite materials for the UK submarine fleet using its recently re-commissioned and refitted Hyperbaric Trials Unit (HTU).
The HTU forms part of an array of specialist equipment housed in QinetiQ’s Diving and Hyperbaric Test Center based in Haslar, Portsmouth.
The use of composite materials in the construction of submarines has a number of advantages, including the need for less maintenance which delivers a reduction in operating costs. Composite materials also provide the opportunity to reduce the acoustic signature of a submarine. As part of an on-going program composite materials are tested by the MOD to develop new approaches and designs.
To carry out the testing of the composite materials requires a sufficiently large pressure chamber which can also meet the demanding pressure fatigue cycling regime. The HTU is fully capable of meeting these requirements and QinetiQ also is able to provide a number of highly experienced and knowledgeable hyperbaric experts to support the testing program.
“We had high confidence that QinetiQ would consider all the risks associated with the testing and provide us with access to the skilled and knowledgeable experts that we need. In addition, the team at Portsmouth provide the essential flexibility to support the nature of our program. We are impressed with the service provided by QinetiQ in the use of their Hyperbaric Trials Unit. It is an excellent facility for testing and simulating equipment under pressure,” said Stuart Mills, Structural Design Authority, In Service Submarines, MOD.
The HTU is a versatile, two compartment chamber that can be used for the testing and evaluation of undersea and hyperbaric systems. It specifically allows the assessment of submarine escape and diving systems and components. Certified to test equipment to 1500m, it has a unique capability to re-create the actual pressure profiles experienced underwater, completely independent of the performance of the components under test. The HTU delivers a powerful and proven capability that can be applied in the defence industry and in commercial sectors such as the offshore oil and gas industry.
“Since the recommissioning of the HTU we have experienced increasing demand for the facility from customers operating in both the commercial and defence markets. The HTU can deliver substantial cost savings to submarine operators and diving/escape equipment suppliers by using a controlled environment to test complete systems and individual components prior to conducting essential, but expensive, sea trials,” observed Dr Jon Bayliss, Head of QinetiQ, Maritime Platforms.