BAE SYSTEMS SUBMARINES (BAESS) are in the process of designing and building the Astute Class submarines at their facility in Barrow in Furness. The first submarine of the class completed the exit transit from the Port of Barrow in Furness, via Walney Channel to the open sea in November 2009.
The channel is approximately 14.8Km in length and varies in width between 90m and 120m. The narrow confines of the navigational width of the channel dictate the use of an extremely accurate positioning system for the exit transit of a nuclear submarine.
In 2007, BAESS initiated a competitive tender process for the provision of the system. Atlantas Marine Ltd was the selected contractor. Atlantas recommended the use of the Marimatech ‘E-Sea Fix’ system, which has a positional accuracy of +/- 2cm, and heading accuracy better than 0.1 degree. Marimatech, a Danish company, are the world leader in portable navigation systems, which utilises satellite positioning technology. The base system was enhanced by the incorporation of a rate gyro to smooth data output and the software modified to accept live tide data.
In 2008 the system became operational and was initially used in a synthetic environment at the Marin Research Centre, The Netherlands, during real time simulator training of the exit transit for the crew, pilots and tug masters. Subsequently, to gain experience in its use, Associated British Port Pilots have used the system during the movement of Merchant traffic from the Port of Barrow.
The users consider the system an excellent aid to navigation that markedly improves safety in restricted waters. The Astute Project is delighted with their purchase and the level of after sales support received from Atlantas Marine and Marimatech.