17 May 2015
The Royal Navy is to investigate claims that security and safety procedures around the Trident nuclear submarines are inadequate.The investigation was launched after the claims were made by a submariner who has since gone on the run.
Able Seaman William McNeilly alleged the Trident programme was a "disaster waiting to happen."
The Royal Navy said that the submarine fleet operated "under the most stringent safety regime."
It confirmed that Mr McNeilly, from Belfast, was a member of the naval service, and that it was concerned for his wellbeing and working closely with civilian police to locate him.
'Safety regime'A Royal Navy spokesman said: "The Royal Navy takes security and nuclear safety extremely seriously and we are fully investigating both the issue of the unauthorised release of this document and its contents.
"The naval service operates its submarine fleet under the most stringent safety regime and submarines do not go to sea unless they are completely safe to do so."
The spokesman also said the Navy "completely disagreed" with Mr McNeilly's report, claiming that it "contains a number of subjective and unsubstantiated personal views, made by a very junior sailor."
However, they added that it was "right" that the contents of this document were considered in detail.
In an internet post, Mr McNeilly said he was an Engineering Technician Submariner who was on patrol with HMS Victorious this year.
He has written an 18-page report, called The Secret Nuclear Threat, detailing what he claims are serious security and safety breaches on board the vessel.
He said his aim was "to break down the false images of a perfect system that most people envisage exists."
Incidents the 25-year-old included in his report varied from complaints about food hygiene to failures in testing whether missiles could safely be launched or not.
He described security passes and bags going unchecked at the Faslane submarine base on the Clyde, alarms being muted "to avoid listening" to them, and stories of fires starting in missile compartments.
'Extreme tragedy'Mr McNeilly said he raised these and other concerns through the chain of command on multiple occasions, but that "not once did someone even attempt to make a change."
He insisted that he has been careful about the information he had chosen to release so as to avoid prejudicing security.
The SNP's Westminster leader Angus Robertson said the report read as "a nightmare catalogue of serious safety breaches aboard and alongside these nuclear armed submarines" and called for the Ministry of Defence to make public the results of its investigation.
He added: "Failure to follow standard safety procedures is unacceptable in any workplace but on a Vanguard submarine on patrol it could result in extreme tragedy not just for those on board but indeed for the entire planet."