Defence Secretary Grant Shapps joined the crew of HMS Vanguard last month to observe Britain’s first Trident nuclear missile since 2016. Like the test eight years ago, this one also ended in failure!

The Sun newspaper reported that the launch took place off the coast of Florida on 30 January. Quoting the Ministry of Defence, the paper claims an “anomaly occurred” with the missile’s boosters failing to ignite shortly after launch, causing the missile “plop” in the ocean close to where Vanguard was submerged.

Despite the failure, the MoD insisted that Britain’s nuclear weapons remain “safe, secure and effective” and that the test “reaffirmed the effectiveness” of the system.

Britain’s last nuclear missile test was onboard HMS Vengeance in June 2016. That failed after a malfunction in the system caused the missile to veer off course, flying over the US before self-destructing. The last successful launch by the Royal Navy took place in October 2012, during the post-refit sea trials of HMS Vigilant.

Apparently the recent failure won’t prevent HMS Vanguard from returning to active service following a major refit which started in 2015 and was expected to take three years at a cost of £300 million. Delays and malfunction meant the refit actually lasted seven years and costs ballooned to over £500 million.

Despite the failed launch, the MoD claims it is satisfied that Vanguard can now return to service after passing all its tests during the recent demonstration and shakedown operation (DASO).

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:

“We have to ask if this is a good use of the Defence Secretary’s time – going to Florida chasing photo opportunities for what ultimately was an expensive failure. The government can try and spin this, but nuclear weapons are clearly useless – as well as being a colossal waste of public money at the expense of vital public services. With an election just around the corner, it’s important that people bear in mind that voting for parties that support nuclear weapons means taking away money from healthcare, education, transport, and energy security. It’s time to stop the waste and get rid of these weapons of mass destruction once and for all.”

Image credit: US Navy