Newest British sub has design flaws

Nov. 16, 2012 at 5:32 PM

LONDON, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- The HMS Astute, once billed as Britain's most sophisticated nuclear submarine, was found in recent testing to be slow, rusty and leaking, officials said.

The vessel cannot race to emergencies or away from attack, and cannot maintain the speed of Britain's newest aircraft carriers, which the sub is meant to protect, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported Friday. Engineers said the sub has a "V8 engine with a Morris Minor gearbox," a reference to a car with a powerful motor and an inadequate transmission.

Other problems reported since the Astute was commissioned 15 years ago include flooding during a routine dive, corrosion in some parts, a flawed periscope and the wrong type of nuclear monitoring instruments, the newspaper said.

"These problems are much more significant than the niggles and glitches expected to arise during working up of a new class of nuclear-powered submarines," said nuclear safety analyst and specialist engineer John Large.

The Astute is the first of seven new submarines to be built at a total cost of 9.75 billion pounds ($15.5 billion) and is currently 2 billion pounds ($3.18 billion) over budget and not yet in service, the newspaper said.

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