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Royal Navy team awarded prestigious medal for world first nuclear reactor repair technique for subma

The winning team, Royal Navy Submarine Mechanical Specialists, with the Churchill Medal alongside Nigel Fine, Chief Executive of the IET (fifth from left); Air-Marshal Julian Young (sixth from right); and Mark Organ, IET Head of Membership (right).

The Royal Navy Submarine Mechanical Specialists team has won a prestigious industry medal for their innovative adaptation of freeze seal isolation, which has been used in a worldwide first for a technically challenging repair of a submarine nuclear reactor.

A technique using liquid nitrogen to freeze and isolate sections of pipework was adapted by the team in order to meet the challenging engineering environment presented by submarines due to restrictive space and geometry.

The work resulted in the first ever deployment of a triple freeze seal to repair a nuclear reactor, giving the UK Submarine Enterprise increased flexibility in its operations, with applications across the entire global nuclear industry.

The Joint Professional Engineering Institutions (PEI) Churchill Medal Award ceremony and lunch was held at IET London: Savoy Place on Thursday 23 November, 2017.

VIP guest The RT Hon Sir Nicholas Soames MP, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, presented the winners with their medal alongside Air Marshal Julian Young and Major General Carew Wilks from BAE Systems, who generously sponsored the event.

Commander Philip Parvin from the Royal Navy Submarine Mechanical Specialists team, said: “We are really stunned and honoured to win this prestigious industry medal, particularly when we were up against teams who are dealing with very complex areas of engineering, such as cyber. It is testament to the hard work and efforts of the whole team.”

The medal is awarded jointly by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), the Institution of Royal Engineers (InstRE), the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Society of Operations Engineers (SOE) and the British Computer Society (BCS).

On behalf of the Joint PEIs, Nigel Fine, Chief Executive of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said: “The outstanding contribution the Royal Navy Submarine Mechanical Specialists team has made to global advancements in engineering and technology across the entire nuclear industry demonstrates technical excellence, determination and self-sacrifice. On behalf of the Joint Professional Engineering Institutions, I am delighted to see the team’s achievement awarded with the Churchill Medal.”

The Churchill Medal, named in honour of Sir Winston Churchill, was first awarded in 1952. Sir Winston, who expressed great enthusiasm for this award, reflected on the important contribution made by engineers of all disciplines to the military needs in the Second World War. The Churchill Medal was left un-awarded for a number of years, but re-instituted in 2011 at the request of the Churchill family. Given the background of the Medal and its association with the military, it was deemed appropriate to associate the Medal with the Armed Forces.