Thales Underwater Systems - TUS Ltd. - Templecombe


The Templecombe part of TUS started life in 1965 as the Marine Systems Research Unit of the Marine Systems Division of the Plessey Company, then it became Plessey Marine Research Unit, and Plessey Marine, before becoming Plessey Naval Systems, producing sonar and other related systems. The Marine Systems Division was established in 1961 at Uppark Drive Ilford but originated in a specialist underwater unit formed by the Plessey Company in 1948. The sites at Ilford carried out manufacturing and support of the older sonars, such as Type 195, and the Mark 44 torpedo. A manufacturing and support site at Newport, Wales was set up for later sonars and gradually the sites at Ilford closed. The headquarters of Plessey Marine was transferred to Templecombe.

Plessey took over a company called Ameeco Hydrospace in the 1970s which specialised in building towed arrays. This had sites in Andover and Gillingham. The sites at Andover were eventually closed and the work transferred to Newport.

Plessey Naval Systems was taken over in 1989 by GEC-Marconi, the defence arm of GEC, to eventually merge with Marconi Underwater Systems Ltd.

After the sonar systems businesses of Thomson-CSF and Ferranti were merged (creating Ferranti Thomson Sonar Systems), GEC-Marconi acquired Ferranti's share, and the company became Thomson Marconi Sonar (TMS). Marconi Underwater Systems Ltd became a part of this company.

In 1999, as part of the merger of Marconi Electronic Systems (as GEC-Marconi had become), and British Aerospace, the new BAE Systems held 49.9% of TMS, which it sold to Thales (the new name for Thomson-CSF) in 2001. Thomson Marconi Sonar was renamed Thales Underwater Systems and the original part of MUSL became part of BAE Systems. The UK headquarters of TUS is at Templecombe.

The original site at Templecombe was at Wilkinthroop House and later because of expansion a site at Throop Road was added. The Throop Road site was previously the railyard of the Somerset and Dorset Railway. The other railway line from London to Exeter, which the line joined linked to is still operational, and Templecombe station is still used today.

Because of restrictions at the former site, all work was later transferred to the latter one and Wilkinthroop House sold off. A flooded quarry at Waterlip was acquired as a test site in the 1960s but problems led to testing being transferred to a site at Vobster. However, further problems there led to testing resuming at Waterlip. The Newport site was closed and manufacturing transferred back to Templecombe. In addition there have been sites in Bath for Prime Contract Management and a Joint Plessey Ferranti Office at Portland to support the Admiralty Research Establishment, but both are now closed. Plessey Naval Systems also had a site at Carslbad California for USN support.

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