Unit History: Admiralty Reactor Test Establishment Dounreay
Admiralty Research Test Establishment (ARTE), on the north coast of Caithness, was commissioned as HMS Vulcan (the HMS prefix was lost in 1981).
The establishment was built on the site of a World War II airfield, called HMS Tern (II). The airfield had been transferred to the Admiralty by RAF Coastal Command in 1944, as a satellite of HMS Tern at Twatt in Orkney.
ARTE is the neighbour of the Dounreay Nuclear Power Development Establishment with its 3 reactors owned and operated by the UK Atomic Energy Authority.
The site has 5 Naval staff heading a workforce of around 280 Rolls-Royce workers. The Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment (NRTE) is a Ministry of Defence establishment housing the prototype nuclear propulsion plants of the type operated by the Royal Navy in its submarine fleet.
Vulcan has been the cornerstone of the Royal Navy’s nuclear propulsion program, testing and proving the operation of 4 generations of reactor core and currently testing its 5th. Its reactors have significantly led the operational submarine plants in terms of operation hours, proving systems, procedures and safety.
Rolls-Royce, who design and procure all the reactor plants for the Royal Navy from their Derby headquarters, operate Vulcan on the behalf of the Ministry of Defence.
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