The Ministry of Defence has placed Babcock under scrutiny for its handling of the contract to support and refurbish Britain’s existing fleet of Trident submarines.
This announcement indicates once again that the MoD is losing its grip on Trident, as we lurch from crisis to crisis.
Concerns at Babcock could raise safety issues if corners are cut to save the flailing business, and the history of the British nuclear weapons system indicates there will be plans to bailout the company at tax payers’ expense if the company’s position is worse than reported.
The situation at Babcock is reminiscent of government plans in 2015 to stem a crisis at Rolls-Royce, which works on the nuclear reactors that propel Vanguard class nuclear submarines. As the business faced profit warnings, the government proposed nationalisation.
The latest problem with a contractor adds to dire warnings set out in September’s Public Accounts Committee report. It revealed serious infrastructure problems, including huge delays and overspending.
Last year we discovered that the government covered up a serious incident involving a misfired Trident missile and this crucial information was held back as MPs decided on replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system in 2016.