PORTSMOUTH, England, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The British Ministry of Defense is testing new composite materials for submarines using QinetiQ's Hyperbaric Trials Unit.
The HTU, which was recently de-commissioned and refitted, is part of range of specialist gear housed in QinetiQ's Diving and Hyperbaric Test Center. It is a two-compartment chamber that can be used for the testing and evaluation of undersea and hyperbaric systems.
It allows the assessment of submarine escape and diving systems and components -- for use at depths of as much as 4,921 feet -- by re-creating actual pressure profiles.
"Since the re-commissioning of the HTU we have experienced increasing demand for the facility from customers operating in both the commercial and defense markets," said Jon Bayliss, head of QinetiQ Maritime Platforms.
"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."
The Ministry of Defense is testing composite materials for use in submarines since they can reduce the acoustic signature of vessels and help reduce operating costs through less maintenance requirements.