Green initiatives earn Navy plaudits in environmental awards

Topic: Equipment and TechEnvironmental impact Storyline: HMS Spey

Two green Royal Navy initiatives have been singled out in the MOD’s annual environmental awards.

Efforts to recycle waste produced while maintaining and refitting warships in Devonport and five years of toil to make new patrol vessels the greenest Royal Navy ships since the days of sail were both highly commended in the annual Sanctuary Awards.

Now in their 30th year, the awards showcase military and civilian efforts throughout the Armed Forces to protect the environment and make the MOD more environmentally friendly.

At Devonport, Defence firm Babcock has changed the way it cleans the hulls of Royal Navy vessels, recycling the waste products rather than dumping them in landfill.

For years, the method of shot blasting – hurling large quantities of small sand-like particles at high pressure at a hull or section of a ship – has been used to clean or polish metal before it is painted.

The waste produced by the process – running into hundreds of tonnes a year – could not be re-used, so was transported by lorry to a dump 50 miles from Plymouth.

That’s now all changed. The team at Devonport found a way to both recycle the waste – and make better use of the trucks delivering it to the naval base.
Now those same lorries take the waste away for recycling – cutting down on the use of vehicles/fuel.

The spent shot blast is taken to a site in Sheffield for reprocessing and use in refractory, asphalt production, industrial flooring or as ballast; most of the users are also found in this part of the country.

Meanwhile the green credentials of the Royal Navy’s newest patrol vessels, HMS Tamar and Spey, have also been acknowledged by the awards.

Both ships are fitted with catalytic converters to reduce the emission of nitrous oxides – particularly harmful to the ozone layer – by as much as 99 per cent.

The results far exceed expectations, allowing both vessels to operate in protected waters around the world – especially important given their mission patrolling some of the distant island chains of the Indo-Pacific region.

Such is the success of the five years of hard work and collaboration between the Royal Navy, Defence Equipment and Support, the MOD and BAE Systems that the converter scheme has been broadened to include the new Type 26 frigates, spearheaded by HMS Glasgow.