HRH The Princess Royal visits Haslar Ocean Basin

Almost 57 years after her father His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh opened the facility, The Princess Royal rededicates it following a major update programme

HRH The Princess Royal rededicates QinetiQs Ocean Basin Chris Richardsen in background

QinetiQ was honoured to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to its Haslar site on Thursday 25 October. The purpose of the visit was to rededicate the Haslar Marine Technology Park's Ocean Basin in Gosport, Hampshire, following its significant upgrade.

Originally opened by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh in 1961, the basin is one of the largest testing tanks in the world. With a volume of 40,000 tonnes of clear water, it is used by commercial and defence customers for manoeuvring model tests in calm water and seakeeping model tests in waves.

During her visit, The Princess Royal was given a tour of the Haslar facilities, including a ship tank, a life support systems laboratory, hyperbaric trials unit, and the ocean basin facility and workshop. She was introduced, and spoke, to some of the people who manage and operate these unique facilities.

HRH The Princess Royal meets apprentice Connor Grady in QinetiQs workshop

In a speech to mark the occasion, QinetiQ’s Chris Richardsen, principal consultant at the facility said:

“It is almost 57 years since His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh opened this spectacular basin and, in his speech, he predicted that the Royal Navy could expect great results from the tests conducted here – and he was right. Since the early 1960s, every class of UK submarine and all major surface warships have been tested at model scale in this facility. It is no exaggeration to say that the safe manoeuvring envelopes of the UK’s submarines are based directly on data that are measured in this basin – and that is why the Ministry of Defence made a long-term commitment in 2008 to support the basin under the Maritime Strategic Capability Agreement.”

That agreement has enabled QinetiQ to make a significant investment to the ocean basin over the past decade. Additionally, there has been a significant increase in its use – notably through a bilateral agreement with the French government which sees its vessels in this facility – and through a number of other foreign governments choosing to evaluate their submarines at Haslar.

Chris went on to say: “It is my great pleasure to welcome you to this newly-refurbished and reinvigorated facility for its rededication ahead of what we hope will be many more years of hydrodynamic testing in support of the UK and other nations.”

After unveiling a plaque to commemorate the event, Her Royal Highness, following in the Duke of Edinburgh’s footsteps, then conducted a ‘mixing the waters’ ceremony by pouring a small flask of ‘Froude Water’ into the basin. The meaning of the ceremony was explained by Chris in his speech:

QinetiQ is immensely proud of its heritage and specifically its link with William Froude, the founding father of naval hydrodynamics. In 1886 William’s son Robert Edmund transferred the Admiralty Experiment Works from Torquay to Haslar and, in a sentimental gesture, poured some water from Torquay into the first tank on this site.”