Further submission from Prospect on Royal
Ordnance at Bridgwater (May 2002)
1. If Bridgwater was not here then explosives
would have to be imported from America (or other supplier), this
would require a very large stock pile of explosives for production
What would the cost be to provide suitable security
arrangements to guard the huge amounts of stockpiled material?
2. There is an increased risk in safety
in transportation in two areas:
(a) Terrorism and (b) Normal shipping and road
3. By keeping the only military high explosive
manufacturing facility in the UK the Government is in total control
of its foreign policy ie no foreign Government would be able to
interfere with the supply of explosives, as was seen in the Middle
East conflict when Belgium refused to lend Britain supplies.
4. As already stated there are increased
risks in further distances of transportation. What is the cost
benefit of transportation of American explosive in comparison
to Bridgwater explosive production?
This needs to include paperwork, packaging,
end user certificates, handling etc and also the important point
of if/when BAE systems lose the contract to run the American (Holston)
explosive plant. This point is developed further under point three
of the Political/Commercial situation section.
1. The Woolwich versus Bachman question,
the Woolwich process for the production of RDX produces an explosive
that is inherently safer due to the quantity and quality of HMX
that is added.
So are the MOD/RO more interested in the cheapest
option or the safest option, if it is cost then it has to be purchased
from America as RO has limited overheads due to operating the
American Governments explosive plant on contract.
If it is the safe option then RO Bridgwater
should be retained or if RO wants to shut the countries only military
high explosive manufacturer down and the UK Government are prepared
to allow this to happen then the explosive should be purchased
from a country like France, who produce the Woolwich type explosive.
2. Insensitive munitions (IM) is the complete
weapons system which includes booster pellets, the IM booster
pellets require N7 which is only produced at Bridgwater. Bridgwater
provides the USA with this product.
There are a number of problems with importing
HE from the USA into the UK. There are major restrictions on the
loading of explosives from US ports the difficulties are so great
that we currently use a Canadian port when exporting into the
US. This does increase the journey time in winter and spring due
to the potential of icebergs and hazardous road conditions. The
road journey from Tennessee to Halifax is over 1,700 miles and
will rely on two different governments. The journey may well have
to be longer to avoid cities such as New York and Boston.
Imports into the UK are restricted by the explosive
limits in some of the UK ports most of the ports can not hold
more than 16 tonnes at any one time and no other work is permitted
when explosives are being moved in the port area. Ships with mixed
cargoes are severely restricted for example a ship with more than
300 kg of explosive is not allowed into Antwerp. Some ships can
moor up at a buoy and be offloaded by lighters but each time a
lighter enters the port all other work in the dock must stop.
The costs of this method of unloading can be very high, as the
ship could be immobile for days. The logistics of offloading at
Newport can be interesting as explosives can only be moved through
the port on Saturdays and again there are limits, such that only
one container can be in the port area at any one time. These restrictions
will increase the cost of transport and severely limit the rate
in which material can be imported into the country.
1. The UK Government has signed up to the
Ottawa convention, the USA have refused on numerous occasions
to sign the convention.
BAE Systems are a British company operating
the American Governments explosives facility at Holston.
What would be the companies and UK Governments
position if the American Government required the Holston Site
to Produce explosives for land mines which is in complete contravention
of the Ottawa convention?
BAE Systems has a 25 year contract to run the
American Governments explosive facility at Holston, which can
be reviewed by either side every five years. If BAE Systems do
not play ball would they lose the contract and where would that
leave Britain let alone BAE Systems?
2. BAE Systems has at most a 25 year contract
to run the American Government explosive facility, there will
be approximately 15 years at most remaining if the Bridgwater
What is the long term thinking and plans for
the UK procurement of explosives after that time?
For information purposes it is rare for a company
to win a second term contract with the American Government.
1. RO Bridgwater produces certain strategic
material for the British nuclear program (this is different from
the American program), if Bridgwater closes where would the UK
Government source these materials and how would they requalify