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Report - - Orford Ness AWRE and Cobra Mist - Suffolk - October 2018 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Orford Ness AWRE and Cobra Mist - Suffolk - October 2018


b3n

onehundredandthirtythree
Regular User
Things to do in Suffolk when you're fucking hungover on a Sunday morning:

#1: Walk 10 miles to see Orford Ness Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.

"It should only take an hour and a half each way"

I don't think anyone else was really up for it but no one wanted to admit that so I drag everyone over 4 and a half miles of shingle to see the possibly radioactive delights of Orford Ness AWRE.

Built in the heights of the cold war Orford Ness was chosen as the testing grounds for the UK's nuclear weapons program. The first buildings were completed in 1956. Apparently 'there will be no tests involving the release of radioactive matter' but the explosion proof buildings imply a different story - backed up by tales of overnight tests involving plutonium and fusion components.

The labs were built of thick concrete on the remote spit, some had a roof on concrete supports that would collapse in the case of an explosion trapping the contents inside. Others were completely buried in shingle.

On our approach we spotted a green land rover driving around the site and hoping he hadn't spotted us hid inside a derelict building for a time. Luckily after 15 minutes the occupants drove off leaving us to explore the site on our own.


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Lab 1 in the background and it's control room in the foreground. Lab 1 was a vibration test facility. The strong sides and weak roof would force any explosion upwards:
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Looking into Lab 1:
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Lab 2 was a similar design to Lab 1. It contained a centrifuge for g force testing:
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Plant room for Lab 2:
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Lab 3 was for temperature testing. The entire building was buried in shingle.
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Inside Lab 3 thermal chamber:

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The Pagodas were used for combined temperature and vibration testing, with a collapsing roof to contain an explosion.
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View attachment
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Plant room to a pergoda.

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Inside a pergoda.
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Control room
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Looking out from the control room.
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After long walk to Orford Ness test site we stopped by the remaining buildings of Cobra Mist.

Now in private hands the site is still very secure. We were short of time so just looked around the externals of the huge grey colossus and made a short climb to the roof of the building.

Hopefully one day we'll get to see what remains inside.

Developed by the US Air Force at the height of the cold war Cobra Mist was a long range over the horizon radar system matching in purpose the Soviet's Duga radar system at Chernobyl.

An arc shaped array of 18 strings 620 meters long spread from a single point across the Orford Ness flood plain in Suffolk. Active radar elements hung from the strings and below this a mesh grid reflector was suspended. The buildings were built on stilts so if the land flooded the radar systems wouldn't be affected.

With a huge transmission power of 10MW the system could detect objects between a range of 930km and 3,700km.

The infrastructure was completed in 1971 when testing began. Unfortunately noise issues plagued the experiments of the test engineers causing false readings over land. After 2 years of testing the US air force gave up on the system and the experimental site closed. One possible source of the noise issues was deliberate electronic disruption by the Soviet government.

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HughieD

28DL Regular User
Regular User
That's fab. Enjoyed that. Good report and the Cobra Mist stuff was a bit of a bonus!
 

TRL1

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
I take it the member taking the photos here has no regard for the wildlife and fragile environment of Orford Ness.

Please. Don’t go to Orford Ness unless by approved method. Any other method is just plain selfish.
 

b3n

onehundredandthirtythree
Regular User
I take it the member taking the photos here has no regard for the wildlife and fragile environment of Orford Ness.

Please. Don’t go to Orford Ness unless by approved method. Any other method is just plain selfish.
Yeah that's right, by walking across some shingle I have irreparably damaged a fragile environment. It's hardly as if I've gone and built a fucking nuclear testing facility, or drive an oil burning landrover around the site on a daily basis is it you absolute numpty.
 

TRL1

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Wow. Really showing yourself up as an ignorant enthusiast now. You obviously haven’t read anything about what is happening there. You’re only interested in your own blinkered agenda.

Please. Have a read, give yourself some knowledge.
 

TRL1

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Yer how dare you !!!! You should be paying the £7 and going on the days when 100’s of other people go
There are never hundreds of people there. 12 people per boat, four sailings per hour, from 10 til...? 2?
 

TRL1

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
For anyone that would like to know a little bit about what makes Orford Ness a special environment, a few minutes reading this will hopefully help:

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/orford-ness-national-nature-reserve/features/coastal-vegetated-shingle-and-shingle-heath-on-orford-ness

It’s funny. I see plenty of criticism of graffiti at derelict military installations that, as we all know, are likely to end up bulldozed. But if someone points out the damage done to a fragile ecosystem that is important internationally, I’m out of order.
 

The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
Moderator
For anyone that would like to know a little bit about what makes Orford Ness a special environment, a few minutes reading this will hopefully help:

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/orford-ness-national-nature-reserve/features/coastal-vegetated-shingle-and-shingle-heath-on-orford-ness

It’s funny. I see plenty of criticism of graffiti at derelict military installations that, as we all know, are likely to end up bulldozed. But if someone points out the damage done to a fragile ecosystem that is important internationally, I’m out of order.
I did have a read of it myself yesterday, as I'm also a keen naturalist, basially what I studied and I have worked as a warden on fragile moorland environments in the past. I'm very aware shingle habitats are very fragile as are many other places in the UK so thanks for making people aware of the situation.

I presume you also share your virtues with all the other walkers and fishermen who can still access the site on foot as clearly stated in the NT website?

"Coastal vegetated shingle habitats are extremely fragile; the damaging effects of access on foot, and particularly by vehicles, have degraded many areas on the Ness, with loss of vegetation. Military use of Orford Ness has now ceased, but walkers and fishermen can still access the beaches. Such disturbance by humans can also have detrimental effects on breeding, feeding and roosting bird populations, which also have to contend with ground predators and very high tides. For example ‘loose’ colonies of little tern are under severe pressure on Orford Ness from all these causes of disturbance".
 

Yorrick

I call bullshit!
Regular User
I presume you also share your virtues with all the other walkers and fishermen who can still access the site on foot as clearly stated in the NT website?
...and with the operators of any petrol or diesel cars or boats anywhere near the site

"Lichens are slow growing (approx. 1mm a year) and extremely sensitive to aerial pollution."
 

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