The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has called time on Britain’s nuclear submarines, amid shocking reports that contractors working on HMS Vanguard used superglue to repair its nuclear reactor and didn’t properly report the incident.
The Sun newspaper reported that bolts keeping vital insulation attached to cooling pipes necessary for the submarines nuclear reactor broke off, due to over-tightening. Civilian contractors, who work for defence firm Babcock, then used superglue to stick the heads of the bolts back in place, instead of reporting the issue and replacing the bolts.
While the workers did report a procedural glitch, they did not mention the broken bolts. The broken bolts were only discovered when one of the heads fell off during an inspection.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has apparently called a meeting demanding “assurances about future work,” while the Royal Navy has launched an official probe.
The news comes shortly after The Times reported that three senior MoD officials from the Submarine Delivery Agency – the body in change of overseeing submarine maintenance – recently received more than £200,000 in performance-related bonuses.
HMS Vanguard – one of four of Britain’s nuclear-armed Trident submarines – has been out of action since 2015 and maintenance work since then has cost at least £500 million. The remaining submarines have been under repeated strain in the years since, with one having to return to port after a fire broke out on board.
Meanwhile, others have warned that Britain’s nuclear submarines have been spending record amounts of time on patrol, prompting fears of increased safety risks posed by submariners spending too long at sea.
CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: “This is just the latest in a steady stream of safety concerns coming from Britain’s nuclear arsenal. It’s shocking that hundreds of millions of pounds have beeen spent on maintaining these deadly submarines, only for vital safety measures to be botched up with superglue. Contracts awarded to Babcock – and paid for with public money – should be urgently reviewed and grotesque bonuses to MoD officials returned. The British government needs to call time on the Trident programme, scrap its replacement, and invest the money in solving the cost-of-living crisis gripping this country.”
Photo credit: Tam McDonald