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Barrow - World Class Skills

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The 5,100 people at Barrow shipyard offer world class submarine and shipbuilding systems integration skills to their customers. When HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark entered service, they were cited as "fantastic ships" by the First Sea Lord. He went on to say:

"With Albion, we have the most fantastic ship. It is a complete step change from the old Fearless and Intrepid. In terms of network naval capability, the Operations Room has a fantastic capacity, a huge intelligence section, an ISR. I do not know if your committee has visited it but it really is impressive. Yes, we have got a few problems there", (with these other things that have been procured), "but in terms of value for money at the end of the day we have got an amazing piece of kit there. It is a super lot of kit and I am delighted we have got it." (Source: First Sea Lord, House of Commons Defence Committee, 24th March 2004).

Barrow's skills are of crucial importance to the nation

Barrow's Shipyard has :

  • 5,100 skilled people based at the Barrow shipyard delivering a unique manufacturing and design capability that enables the UK to lead Europe in warship construction and submarine build. 
  • A recent track record in designing and building naval ships especially in the areas of outfit, integration, test and commissioning (which is much more complex than for commercial vessels).
  • Nearly 60% of the UK's warship engineering design skills base.

"Barrow capacity currently provides a significant risk mitigation option for the MoD when considering future naval shipbuilding demand programmes." (Source: Barrow Surface Ship Assessment, PA Consulting Group, February 2004 for Northwest Development Agency).

The Design and Manufacturing Capability at Barrow Shipyard

The present skills at Barrow shipyard are founded on more than 100 years of involvement with submarines and surface warships, for the Royal Navy and many other navies.

Barrow, having the largest shipbuilding design teams in Britain offers the services of one of the world's most experienced and powerful organizations for the management of shipbuilding programmes.

BAE's naval architects are leaders of design and building teams containing almost every kind of engineer, scientist, technician and production worker. Naval architects prepare the general plans and specifications for vessels designed to meet the requirements specified by a customer or to meet a need that has been identified from a survey of the warship market generally.


BAE SYSTEMS maintains a large team of professionally qualified engineering staff with proven capabilities in all activities connected with weapon systems for warships, and especially submarines.

There are people concerned directly with quality control and people engaged in non-destructive testing.


Complete documentation to the highest standards, covering construction, crew training, operation and maintenance for ships, submarines, armaments, systems and other projects is produced by specialists: on-going amendment programmes ensure that documentation is kept up to date.

In addition to handbooks and other technical documentation, the shipyard delivers all kinds of related literature and audio-visual material to any level of security classification or for publicity purposes.


Barrow handles a range of metallic materials and production processes. Barrow is also used for manufacturing armament products in steel, aluminum and titanium materials.                                                                                          

Submarines comprise of a vast array of materials, primarily steel, with a range of various ferrous and non-ferrous materials required for the sub-systems. These materials are joined by all types of welding process but primarily:

1. Sub arc welding (SAW).
2. Flux cored arc welding gas shielded (FCAS:GS).
3. Tungsten inert gas welding (TIG).
4. Manual metallic arc welding (MMA).

Where feasible these welding processes are automated to improve productivity rates and provide the most cost effective manufacturing method for the required product. Notably this includes large SAW systems for undertaking the main welds for the pressure hull, orbital TIG welding for the reactor pipe systems and mechanized TIG welding for the cladding of submarine components.



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Contact Us

Emlyn Hughes House,
Abbey Road,
Barrow in Furness,
Cumbria LA145PQ

Tel: +44 (0)1229 314100

Email: stuart@fedf.co.uk

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"Barrow remains an untapped source of production capability and could... play a significant role in the coming shipbuilding programme."

Source: Rand, page 153 The UK's Naval Shipbuilding Industrial Base (2005), Report to UK MoD

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