Fire on nuclear submarine HMS Torbay in Devonport Dockyard

A fire has broken out on the hull of the nuclear powered submarine HMS Torbay during maintenance work at Devonport Naval Dockyard.

The fire broke out on the afternoon of Thursday 25 April on the submarine's outer deck, just below the conning tower, when a welding blanket caught fire while work was underway on the submarine when afloat in 15 Dock at Devonport.

The blaze was extinguished by a member of the Royal Navy crew in response to an alert by the duty watch, and no-one was injured during the incident.  The submarine was evacuated and thirty firefighters and five fire appliances from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service attended the incident as a precaution.

The Royal Navy said that the submarine's nuclear reactor was not affected and there were no nuclear implications from the fire, describing it as “a very small event”.

The Ministry of Defence and its contractors are investigating the cause of the fire with the aim of preventing similar incidents from occurring in future.

HMS Torbay entered dry dock in Devonport at the end of 2011 for a scheduled Revalidation and Assisted Maintenance Period (RAMP) which includes hull and reactor cooling system inspections, work on torpedo tubes and hydroplanes, and communication upgrades.  The maintenance programme has reached  final stage tasks which are undertaken after the submarine has been refloated, and it is scheduled to re-enter service in summer 2013.

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