The above image (click on image for full size rendition) has been created by a very patient fellow clearly adept with Adobe Photoshop. It shows two battleships, one of which – the German battleship Bismarck – existed, the other – the H-44 design – did not.
The H-44 is an excellent illustration of engineers and designers creating something that is so over-engineered that it is unaffordable. Readers who are less than familiar with the Bismarck’s specifications may be forgiven into thinking that the Bismarck was a small battleship. Small, she most certainly was not!
Germany was indirectly treaty bound to observe the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. This laid down that battleships could not be more than 35,000 tons standard displacement. When he came to power, Hitler decided that this limitation did not apply to Germany! Bismarck’s designers drove a coach and horses through the treaty limits with her displacing 41,000 tons (6,000 over the limit). She was 793 ft at the waterline and 823 ft overall with a beam of 118 ft and a draft of 31 ft. Her 12 Wagner superheated boilers drove three geared turbines that sent 150,170 shp to her three shafts giving her a top speed of 30 knots. She mounted 8 × 38 cm (15 in) SK C/34 (4 × 2), 12 × 15 cm (5.9 in) (6 × 2) and16 × 10.5 cm (4.1 in) SK C/33 (8 × 2) guns.
The Royal Navy’s response, the King George V battleships (that were built within treaty limits) were slower, smaller, lighter and less well protected. Crucially in order to abide by the treaty their main armament had a rate of train of only 2 degrees per second whereas the Germans (by ignoring the treaty limitations) were able to give the Bismarck’s main armament a rate of train of 5 degrees per second – more than twice as fast. Fortunately, the German designers shot themselves in the foot somewhat with a clanger of a design fault: seeking to obtain the maximum protection for Bismarck’s machinery, they placed it closely to the centre line. This of course meant that her two wing shafts were in close proximity to her centreline shaft – this caused the Bismarck to have all of the manoeuvring characteristics of a single shaft design due to the necessary adjustments to avoid inter-screw cavitations. In other words, Bismarck was not very manoeuvrable! This was her undoing. But we digress……
Following the loss of the Bismarck, Hitler ordered a redesign of the follow on battleships to the Bismarck and Tirpitz – the H-39 class – whose construction had been suspended on the outbreak of war. Hitler fully intended to have six more battleships and planned to construct them after a German victory. As the war went on Hitler insisted the designers improve the design by adding more protection and larger guns. The result was the H-44.
The H-44 had she been built would have been truly gigantic.
Herewith her specifications:
Displacement; 129,000 tons
Length; 1,131 ft 11 in
Beam; 169 ft 0 in
Draft; 41 ft 8 in
Main armament; 8 × 20.0 inch guns
Secondary armament; 12 × 5.9 inch and 16 × 4.1 inch guns.
A four shaft hybrid diesel/steam turbine plants, supplying 266,000 shp (198,000 kW) to drive her at 29.8 knots was planned.
Compare this monster to the USS Nimitz:
Displacement; 104,600 tons
Length Overall; 1,092 feet
Length Waterline; 1,040 feet
Beam Waterline; 134 feet
Draft; Maximum navigational: 37 feet Limit: 41 feet
Propulsion; 2 × Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors, 4 × steam turbines, 4 × shafts 260,000 shp (194 MW).
Speed; 30+ knots.
OK then, you will now be asking; What the Dickens has this to do with building nuclear power stations in the UK!
This: Westinghouse, one of the world leaders in nuclear technology – note they manufacture the USN’s nuclear reactors and their reactor design was the basis of the British reactor designs of our nuclear submarines – have developed a new civil electrical power generating nuclear reactor, the AP1000®, a YouTube video of which is at the bottom of this article.
AP1000® reactors are under construction in China and we refer the reader to the following press release:
PITTSBURGH, Feb. 9, 2012 PRNewswire – The following statement is attributable to the President and CEO of Westinghouse Electric Company, Dr. Aris Candris.
“Westinghouse congratulates Southern Nuclear on the approval of its combined construction and operating license (COL) for Plant Vogtle by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
“The granting of this COL is yet another important step in constructing the next generation of new nuclear plants in the United States. The thorough and rigorous COL review, combined with the recent AP1000® design certification help to ensure Southern and its stakeholders of receiving greater levels of safety, increased project certainty and years of reliable electricity generation. Additionally, these plants will contribute significantly to the local, regional and national economies by creating and sustaining thousands of jobs.
“Westinghouse applauds the NRC’s decision to grant Southern Company and Georgia Power a COL, paving the way for a new generation of safe, clean and reliable electricity in the United States.”
SOURCE Westinghouse Electric Company
Now let us be clear. The USA is not some third rate corrupt banana republic with dodgy practises and a legal system that is lax when it comes to civil compensation claims!
It should be obvious to all but the most imbecilic dunderheads that the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission are on the ball and know their onions.
Clearly however, the design had to be submitted to the Health and Safety Executive’s Nuclear Directorate (the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, Office for Civil Nuclear Security, the UK Safeguards Office and the Department for Transport’s Radioactive Materials Transport Team, now merged as the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).
What should have been little more than a formality however has turned into a mammoth five year long gold plating exercise where engineers employed by the ONR have studiously sought to imagine every conceivable hypothetical scenario – all extremely remote and incredibly unlikely – to attempt to make the reactor absolutely fail safe – all sensible scenarios having been attended to by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission!
Such efforts should be applauded you may say. You may say that any nuclear power stations built in the UK must be as safe as possible and what the ONR are doing is a good thing.
The trouble is that the ONR’s engineers are over engineering – of what let us remember is a design that has been fully approved in the USA – to such a degree that the resulting design will likely be an unaffordable “H-44 version” of the perfectly safe and economical AP1000®.
Oh, and to cap it all, the ONR have insisted that the entire design be reworked in metric! The Chinese who are a fully metric nation have not seen fit to demand this expensive and utterly pointless redesign!
The ONR’s Generic design assessment process (GDA) was due to be completed by June 2011. It is now February 2012 and shows no signs of coming to an end.
When the ONR’s GDA process finally does come to an end, it will be many many years before construction will begin of any nuclear power plant.
This will of course be due to a series of long running public enquiries where the masses of lawyers instructed by the Greenie pressure groups – indirectly funded by you the taxpayer – will see to it that the enquiries take an interminable length of time. When such an enquiry is completed there will – if the enquiry approves the construction of a nuclear power station – then follow legal challenge after legal challenge, judicial review after judicial review, right up through the hierarchy of civil courts – High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court. It will then go to the European Court of Human Rights!
One thing is absolutely certain from all this: hundreds of lawyers are going to become multi-millionaires. Of that you can be absolutely certain. You can also be absolutely certain that their millions will have come from the taxpayer.
Of course, this is a serious problem to the UK’s long suffering electricity consumers. The current generation of conventional coal fired and older nuclear power stations are fast approaching the end of their lives and will soon be closed down.
There is absolutely no chance of any new nuclear reactor being constructed in time. None whatsoever. Even if the ONR was to give the go-ahead today.
So what have we got to replace these power stations? Yes, you guessed it: Wind Turbines!
The British Gazette’s advice: If you can afford it; buy a diesel generator set to enable your domestic electricity supply to continue. If you cannot afford this; buy some candles, some more warm clothing and duvets and some camping heating and cooking equipment. You will soon need them!