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Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 07:42 GMT
Trident dock nears completion
Nuclear submarines
Surface fleet cuts have increased the role of subs
New facilities to refit Trident-carrying submarines in Plymouth are almost complete, eight years after the contract was awarded.

The work has involved stripping down "9 Dock" at Devonport Dockyard.

The dock has been reinforced with concrete and steel to make sure it can withstand a shock as large as an earthquake.

The work is expected to be finished only just in time to receive its first Vanguard submarine - the class that carries Trident nuclear missiles.

Rosyth Dockyard
Devonport beat Rosyth Dockyard to the contract
The existing refit complex at Devonport was not big enough to accommodate Vanguard submarines, which have distinctive fins near their bows.

The multi-million pound project has brought 200 permanent jobs to the area.

More than 2,000 contract workers were employed on the conversion project, which has cost in excess of 300m.

The works will bring improved facilities for refits of Trafalgar-class hunter/killer submarines, which are already carried out at Plymouth.

The Trafalgars are nuclear-powered but do not carry nuclear missiles.

Controversial plans

Devonport will become the sole refit yard for the UK submarine fleet, as well as the home base of around half the Royal Navy's Vanguard submarines.

The expansion plans have brought controversy, after the dockyard operating company, DML, applied for permission to increase dumping of radioactive Tritium from submarines into the River Tamar.

The Environment Agency has yet to rule on the request.

The re-fitted dry dock is being officially opened on Thursday.

Click here to go to BBC Devon Online
See also:

12 Sep 01 | UK
Jet skis protect warships
03 Aug 01 | Scotland
Dockyard announces job cuts
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