In seven weeks’ time up to six teams of University engineering students from both sides of the Atlantic, will be taking part in the five-day long European International Submarine Races at Europe’s largest freshwater tank – QinetiQ’s Ocean Basin at Gosport, England. Yes, an international precursor to the Olympics!
Having designed and built their submarines, the teams, that include students from UK, USA, Canada, Norway, Hong Kong, China, India, Ireland and Algeria, will race them flooded, piloted and pedalled by a scuba diver, competing against the clock, around a demanding slalom course in a unique sporting and engineering challenge.
The Races will run over a week. The first day (25 June) will be a dry day of final readying, ballasting, dry judging and diver checkouts. The races proper are planned to start on the second day (26 June), and run through to the end of the fifth morning (29 June). Teams will be assigned to either morning or afternoon heats, with different competitors each day. The 27 June will not only see invited guests from military and civilian organisations seeing for themselves what students are capable of, but also a set of master classes on submarine design and underwater technology; and a graduate fair (both open to non-competitors as well as the competitors themselves).
This inaugural event combines talented teams, a prestigious judging panel headed by Vice Admiral Sir Robert Hill, and a series of awards. It is itself the subject of awards, for an increasing number of sponsors is providing support through both financial and in-kind means. The most recent are Atlas Elektronik, James Fisher Defence, and the BMT Group who join the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), The Society of Naval Architects & Marine Engineers (SNAME), The Society for Underwater Technology, QinetiQ, The Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust, UK NEST, Reson, Braemar Howells and Ultra Electronics as sponsors and supporters.
As Sam West, Marketing Manager, Atlas Elektronik UK says: “Atlas Elektronik UK is pleased to sponsor what promises to be a very exciting event. As a leading science and technology company, we will be interested to see the new innovation skills and ideas that the students will bring to bear during the competition. We wish all the participants luck and look forward to meeting them.”
It is a view shared by Ben Sharples, Managing Director of James Fisher Defence, who says: “I am pleased that JFD is able to sponsor this year’s eISR. JFD has been designing and building manned submersibles for over 25 years and we are especially looking forward to meeting young, innovative, talented, engineers, and to seeing them tackle the inherent engineering challenges the event presents.”
The judging challenge Sir Robert Hill’s judging panel comprises Rear Admiral Paul Thomas, Gareth Somerset, Gan Jenkins, Liz Whitrow, and Commodore Peter Hurford. “We are extremely grateful for their enthusiastic support, ” says Race Director, Dr William Megill, FIMarEST, Director of the Ocean Technologies Lab, in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Bath. “They share one thing in common. All have incomperable knowledge of submarines, and are happy to share this with our teams, for the eISR is as much an engineering design competition as it is a sporting event. The judges start their work long before the races take place, scrutinising design reports.
“The first were received during March and feedback from the judges is an aid to ensuring safe and effective operation ‘on the day’. Next month they will be poring over full design reports from all the competing teams; and then at the eISR itself, the teams will give public presentations to the judges, other contestants and members of the public on Wednesday 27 June.
“This is the first time these races have been held outside the USA, ” Dr Megill explains. “I am delighted that Archimede V from the Ecole Polytechniqiue de Montreal; Omer 8 from Ecole de Technologie Superieure, Quebec; Wolverine the submarine from the University of Michigan; Maroon Harpoon from Texas A&M University; Talon 1 from Florida Atlantic University, and Minerva from the University of Bath, will all be competing. We have had interest too from around the world, including Oman, France, Holland, Mexico and Venezuela. Universities from those countries have said they will be watching closely this year, with an eye to taking on the winner at the next eISR!”
The competition The teams are competing for a variety of awards • Grand Prize – eISR cup and All Round Runner Up The winner will receive a very special award – a spectacular engraved crystal sculpture depicting Alexander the Great being lowered into the Bosphorous in the world’s first submarine in 332BC. This is being created by Admiral Frank Grenier CB, formerly head of the Royal Navy submarine service and now an engraver of note.
The overall winner of the eISR will be determined by a formula combining design, manufacture, and performance on the racecourse. Performance will be measured objectively, based on the daily top speeds and least faults. The judges will award points for the quality of design based on the written reports, and team explanations, during scrutineering. The judges will also be looking to reward excellence in manufacturing, which they will judge based on what they see during the dry inspections. The final pedagogical element of the judging will be a ‘lessons learned’ report, which the teams will compile during the course of the week, in which they will close the experiential learning loop for themselves, and pass on their hard-earned knowledge to the next generation of competitors.
Other awards will include: • Week’s top speed • Most manoeuvrable • BMT Award for Innovation (sponsored by BMT Defence Services) • Best presentation
The awards dinner will be held on the evening of 29 June in the Wardroom (Officers’ Mess) at the Royal Navy’s HMS Collingwood naval base in Gosport.
Further information on all aspects of the eISR is available at www.subrace.eu #subrace12
About the judges Vice Admiral Sir Robert Hill KBE FREng Hon FIMarEST had a 37 year career as a submarine engineer officer in the Royal Navy. After being the Engineer Officer of the diesel powered submarine THERMOPYLAE, he qualified in nuclear power and served in the Polaris submarine REPULSE. Subsequent appointments were mainly in the engineering departments of the Ministry of Defence, involved with future designs of submarines and surface warships. Until retiring in 1993, as a Vice Admiral he held the posts of Chief Naval Engineer Officer and Director General Submarines.
After leaving the Royal Navy he has been variously, President of the Institute of Marine Engineering (now IMarEST) and a non-executive director of VT(Group)Ltd, SEA(Group) Ltd and British Energy plc where he chaired the Safety, Health and Environment Committee. He has been a member of the Lloyd’s Register General Committee and is Chairman of the Bath Theatre Trust.
Rear Admiral Paul Thomas CB, FREng, FCGI, Hon FNucI, Hon FSaRS had a 35 year career as a naval engineer officer spent mainly in submarines (OCELOT, ORACLE, RENOWN & REVENGE) and submarine related appointments. These included being the MoD’s internal nuclear regulator and Director Nuclear Propulsion. Retiring as a Rear Admiral, his last appointment was as Chief Strategic Systems Executive with responsibility for procuring the TRIDENT submarines, their missile systems and the nuclear warheads.
He is currently Chairman of the Rail Safety & Standards Board and was the first President of the Nuclear Institute. He is a non-executive director of EDF Energy’s and Centrica’s joint venture company NNB GenCo and chairs the Defence Nuclear Safety Committee, The Hazards Forum and The Process Safety Forum.
Gareth Somerset MBE, BSc graduated from Liverpool University with a degree in Oceanography. His early specialisation in sonar design has persisted through much of his career, which broadened into a much wider involvement in engineering management. In 1988, Gareth, with four colleagues, founded Systems Engineering & Assessment Ltd (SEA). SEA grew over the following 20 years from a five man start-up to a company of 250 staff.
Gareth has had a longstanding interest and involvement in the Royal Navy’s submarine programmes, from the CHURCHILL class through to the most recent ASTUTE class. This has included the procurement of world-leading ASW sonar systems, the development of novel submarine sensor systems, and the evolution of command and communication systems. He has had close technical involvement in the design and development of unmanned underwater vehicles. Gareth has an association with the National Oceanographic Centre, Southampton, with particular interests in NOC’s autonomous underwater vehicle programmes and novel oceanographic sensor development.
Gan Jenkins RCNC CEng FIMarEST joined the Ministry of Defence as an Engineering apprentice. After graduating with a degree in mechanical Engineering he joined Chatham Dockyard as a shift manager refuelling nuclear submarines. He obtained a second degree in nuclear technology in 1969 after which he had various posts responsible for the design and development of nuclear submarine equipment. As a manager in Devonport and Rosyth dockyards he was involved with the repair and refit of submarines and surface ships.
He then became head of the MoD section responsible for the procurement and support of nuclear submarine reactor plant. He was appointed as the Director of Future Projects for the Navy in London in 1987 after which he served for three years as head of one the MOD’s central civilian management divisions. In 1997 he became the Director of Marine Engineering in the Ship Support agency .Since retiring from the MoD in 2001, he has provided consultancy services to various organisations both within Government and the private sector.
Liz Whitrow CEng MRINA joined BMT Defence Services Ltd as a Bursary Student in 1996, and after completing a BEng (Hons) in Naval Architecture & Small Craft Engineering at the University of Strathclyde became a permanent employee in 1998. Since then Liz has risen within the company to her present position as Manager in the Submarine Team having undertaken numerous design studies, both surface ship and submarine, for the company itself and in multi-industry teams. Having herself successfully completed the UCL Submarine Design Course, she now co-ordinates BMT’s internal submarine design course as well as courses that BMT provides for other companies.
Commodore Peter Hurford OBE, FREng, FIMechE trained as a submarine marine engineer officer in the Royal Navy. After 10 years sea service in four submarines he moved into supporting appointments including superintendent of the Naval Reactor Test Establishment and senior marine engineer of the submarine flotilla. He completed his RN service as the Navy’s chief nuclear regulator in the rank of Commodore. Peter then worked for six years for Transport for London, responsible for the engineering and safety of the public piers on the Thames. Peter is now retired and does some consultancy including membership of the Defence Nuclear Safety Committee.