Atomic Weapons Establishment
Since 2000 Serco has been entrusted with the management of the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment. We do this as part of AWE Management Limited (AWEML), a 25-year joint venture with Lockheed Martin UK and Jacobs Engineering.
AWE provides the warheads for the UK's independent nuclear deterrent. Uniquely among the nuclear powers, AWE covers the whole life cycle of nuclear warheads in a single establishment - design, manufacture and assembly, in-service support and decommissioning and disposal. AWE operates an advanced science-based programme, including hydrodynamics, environmental testing, plasma physics and high performance computing. Scientists at AWE also play a key role in support of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
The facility is managed to very high standards. The AWE environmental improvement programme has been recognised with several awards, and AWE was the first nuclear site to develop a ten-year environment plan subject to public consultation. In addition, the company has received numerous awards, including the ROSPA Sir George Earle Trophy, recognising its leading performance in industrial health and safety.
AWEML's primary role is to provide advice and governance to the management of AWE plc and bring the experience and expertise of the parent companies to bear on AWE's development. For example, we have worked together to create a new programme and project management academy at AWE which is now up and running. 25% of the AWE workforce will go through the academy to acquire the project management skills essential to AWE's long term future. In addition, we have overseen a multi-disciplinary team of project managers, commercial experts, scientists, engineers and construction specialists to deliver a state-of-the-art laser facility to enable scientists to replicate conditions at the heart of a nuclear reaction. The programme is being delivered on time and on budget. (see Project Orion case study above)
BNFL has recently announced that it is disposing of its shareholding in AWE. As the remaining shareholders in AWE ML, both Serco and Lockheed Martin UK have welcomed the announcement and are interested in exercising our pre-emption rights that will form part of the sale process. Our primary objective is to ensure that the high performance service, which has been delivering a highly complex science-based programme to our customer, the Ministry of Defence, on time and on budget, continues throughout the remaining 17 years of the current contract. BNFL has been key to this success, and their expertise and processes are now well embedded within AWE to ensure the continuity that we seek.