1st British Nuclear Powered Sub launched
“I name this ship Dreadnought. May god bless her and all who sail in her.” With these traditional words the Queen launched HMS Dreadnought, a name with a great tradition in the Royal Navy, on a day with enormous significance for that force and the country, Trafalgar Day . The setting was the Vickers shipyards in Barrow-in-Furness.
But the new Dreadnought was a break with tradition: the first British nuclear powered submarine. The story of how the 3556 tonne vessel came into being is an illustrative one: initial MOD attempts to engineer a nuclear powered submarine began shortly after the end of WWII , but got nowhere, a not uncommon situation for modern defence projects. Thus it was decided to seek American technology. Our staunchest ally, however, as had been the case with civil nuclear technology, was extremely reticent about the transfer of such information. It took the personal intervention of Lord Mountbatten to secure an agreement, and even after this had been reached, to ensure the latest (5th) generation Westinghouse propulsion reactor was obtained rather than as senior figures in the US Navy wished the 3rd such.
The hull was of British design, however, and the perceived urgency of having such a craft available is seen in the rapidity with which Vickers took Dreadnought from being laid down on June 12 1959 to her launch on October 21 1960, when she raced from the slip into the water. It was not until 1962, however, that the reactor was delivered to the vessel, and she was finally commissioned on April 17 1963.
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