Trident Safety

Picture the scene inside the MoD this weekend.

panic-disorder-971

 

As they read this headline (click to read)

Whistleblower_warns_Trident_submarines_are_a_disaster_waiting_to_happen_due_to_safety_blunders_and_security_lapses_-_Daily_Record_-_2015-05-17_18.15.48

 

The story describes the claims of a now on the run whistleblower, Able Seaman William McNeilly, who has produced an 18 page report called the Nuclear Secrets that alleges a catalogue of ‘security lapses and safety blunders’, to quote the Daily Record;

He alleges the Trident missiles the submarine carries are vulnerable to a terrorist attack that “would kill our people and destroy our land.”

The story does not make clear where the report is but provides an example of the kind of thing that will allow ISIS to unleash nuclear armageddon;

burning toilet rolls starting a fire in a missile compartment

and

security passes and bags going unchecked

Don’t let this make you think I am trivialising the subject because I am not, but it does show how hard it is to form any kind of opinion on the matter.

The Royal Navy’s manning problems are well known, as are a number of safety reports that have been released that would seem to show some cause for concern.

Whether this report has anything of substance or is complete nonsense, I guess none of us will ever know, but one thing is certain, there is no subject more serious.

 

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ssjgr01
ssjgr01
May 17, 2015 5:40 pm

http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/265119365 – courtesy of The Guardian.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 17, 2015 5:51 pm

I note you ommit the fact that this kid was a part 3 on his first patrol. Your last paragraph is nonsense as well. I had lunch today with a V boat Co and a good chuckle about this.

From Luddite Lodge
From Luddite Lodge
May 17, 2015 5:57 pm

It may seem laughable, but there were thousands of SNP voters lapping this Able Seaman’s comments up. When he gets banged up , he will be A martyr for Scotland. A propaganda war is a war without bullets and the SNP are winning.

Craig
Craig
May 17, 2015 5:57 pm
All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 17, 2015 6:07 pm

A martyr for Scotland? Do not confuse the SNP with Scotland

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
May 17, 2015 6:31 pm

I stopped taking it seriously when the article in the Telegraph said he thought he might be assassinated. What a load of garbage, I also loved the part about how the contractors not being patted down every time they came on board, betting the majority had security clearances and those that didn’t were escorted, just another attention seeker.

The Other Chris
May 17, 2015 6:39 pm

I hope the lad is found safe and well.

Likely won’t be in as much trouble as he imagines and I’m sure the right people can get him some support so he can get on with his life.

Observer
Observer
May 17, 2015 7:29 pm

ToC, you might be better off if he was never found. Period. Vanished into Africa and the like.

The media is insane and the people that feed the industry are insane too.

Peter L
Peter L
May 17, 2015 8:52 pm

Nah, he’ll be fine. At the end his wonderfully written article he said that he was giving himself up, but expected that the PM would give him a pardon. He’s right that he’s giving away a lot of information though, who knew that the “HMS Vanguard class submarines” could only operate down to 65 Metres, and were at serious danger of implosion should they descend below this…?

(Yes, I know…)

dukeofurl
dukeofurl
May 18, 2015 12:21 am

Rickover would have a seizure if he was alive and read the detailed first person report. This was the sort of institutional slackness he abhorred.

Dunservin
Dunservin
May 18, 2015 7:51 am

@APATS

A Part 3 trainee? I wonder if this could jeopardise him being awarded his dolphins.

monkey
monkey
May 18, 2015 8:29 am

@APATS
“Do not confuse the SNP with Scotland”
64 out of 129 SMP’s
56 out of 59 Scottish Westminster MP’s
A narrow loss for Independence led by the SNP.
I am confused as much as your statement as Mr Mc Neilly’s BS.

Obsvr
Obsvr
May 18, 2015 8:32 am

Well, assuming Trident isn’t subject to NATO nuclear surety regulations, eg ACE Directive 80-60, and subject to proper independent surety inspections, then I guess the RN can get away with any old sloppiness on the surety front.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
May 18, 2015 9:48 am

Navy Lark? Life following art

http://navylark.0catch.com/ Not checked but has link to an episode of The Navy Lark

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
May 18, 2015 10:01 am

@Monkey…55% of those Scots who voted in the Referendum opposed independence; 50% of Scots lent their vote to the SNP at this last election, but did so on the clear understanding that it was NOT about having another referendum, a point stressed by the Leader of the SNP (despite her predecessors effort to muddy the waters)…it can be assumed that the 100,000 Scots who have joined the SNP do want independence on some basis…but as @apats quite rightly points out they are NOT Scotland…in fact, not even 2% of Scotland…and the fact that rather more than that have lent them their vote in recent years does not make them Scotland. Has the Conservative Party become “England” by winning the last election here?

It’s a vital distinction, because a key part of the SNP Strategy is to convince everybody that they are in fact Scotland, as opposed to being less than 2% of it who lost a Referendum about Independence less than a year ago, but did well in a General Election (not about Independence) the week before last…but still only represent 50% of Scotland…

GNB

monkey
monkey
May 18, 2015 10:43 am

@GNB
I understand that the majority of the eligible Scottish voters did not vote SNP ,whether for the Scottish Parliament or Westminster but they are the ‘voice’ of Scotland in these Houses. The Scottish Parliament having a mix of first past the post and proportional representation has a bigger mix of parties which are more representative of the Scottish electorate views ( a model for a future Westminster? ) but for now the SNP are taking the lead. Myself , I believe we need to consider , plan for and possibly begin an alternative to all key mainland Scottish based military establishments , my favourite would be Scapa Flow for a sub/surface ship base however the eco lobby may have a fit on that one.

Hugh Neve
May 18, 2015 12:52 pm

The most worrying thing is ‘how did he get past any psychological testing’?

I hope that when he ‘hands himself in’ they just ignore him – that would really cheese him off!

Straight back on the same boats with a distinctly un-impressed crews…

Slightly Agricultural
Slightly Agricultural
May 18, 2015 1:53 pm

Granted, he’s certainly a bit of a knob with a serious walt issue/martyr complex/delusions of Snowden, but is it all definitely bollocks? Certainly *sounds* like the Forces we all know, and the V Boats are being run-on out of necessity rather than design…

As if Dave will give him a pardon though, after he figuratively dropped a massive steaming turd on the PM’s desk, ruining both his weekend and Trident renewal campaign! Several years in MCTC Colchester at her Majesty’s pleasure instead, I expect.

barbarossa
barbarossa
May 18, 2015 2:26 pm

I suspect the lad will have a ‘career defining moment’ when he gets back, wearing his sombrero and clutching a straw donkey.

Unless, of course the ruisbridger Pravda, gets to him first….

Foxbat
Foxbat
May 18, 2015 2:58 pm

Seems he’s planning on returning to the UK and handing himself into the authorities ‘in the next few days’. See the BBC for more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-32771925

Angus McLellan
Angus McLellan
May 18, 2015 3:25 pm

Monkey, there are much more important TD-related roles proposed for Scapa Flow than naval basing: “Containers, transshipping of”. http://archive.northsearegion.eu/files/repository/20130228132250_Readversion-FCSTT.pdf

Richard_L
Richard_L
May 18, 2015 3:26 pm

Whilst it might seem very easy to dismiss the entire contents of this report on the grounds that the author is merely an Able Seaman and occasionally makes obvious errors (e.g. max. dive depth 65m) and exaggerates the risk of terrorist attack and assassination, I wouldn’t treat it as complete rubbish or mere propaganda for the SNP.

I’m inclined to agree with Dukeofurl – the most important thing about the report is not individual errors but the picture of overall “institutional slackness”, as the Duke puts it, that it portrays. Standard operating and maintenance procedures not being followed, incidents and accidents being covered up, regulations on other myriad matters routinely being flouted, cheating on tests, the attitude that anything goes as long as the captain doesn’t find out…

And before dismissing it on the grounds that the boat could never be as broken or crew could never be as irresponsible as he describes them to be as it’s a first world military’s nuclear weapons system – the shiny tip of the shiniest spear, so to speak – take a look back at all the troubles that have come to light with the USAF’s land based missiles and their personnel over the last few years. Institutionalised cheating on proficiency tests, drug use, lack of spares & maintenance tools (the “one spanner” incident), multiple systems failures etc. The Americans have suffered from much of what he describes too.

Aubrey's Shadow
Aubrey's Shadow
May 18, 2015 3:47 pm

I’m expecting him to reveal next that somebody shot an Officer on board a nuke boat….whatever next. I agree with TOC – pick him up, get him help, get him a life. Clearly needs somebody to talk to at length. You never know, maybe something he said might just save somebody’s bacon in the future, just by focusing minds a little following a thorough de-brief. Can’t take any chances – poorly kid on one side – impregnable institution on the other; maybe a little good may come of it, Insh’Allah.

monkey
monkey
May 18, 2015 4:26 pm

@Angus McLellan
I read your link and nice idea to use the great expanse and security of Scapa to provide sufficient room to anchor such a facility without impacting much on the shoreline. Nice spot of revenue and jobs for the islanders to boot.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 18, 2015 4:28 pm

Can’t see anything less than a custodial sentence for him. Apart from anything else, he photographed the entire of the manual with his phone: willing to admit to being wrong but I strongly suspect that’s a classified document.

Was slightly surprised that the entire patrol’s rubbish is bagged up and left in corridors. That must become a bit of a fire risk. Health risk as well I’d assume.

Aubrey's Shadow
Aubrey's Shadow
May 18, 2015 6:16 pm

If true, yes it would be a fire risk. As i say, perhaps some little good may come of it. Yes, I believe he probably does have to do time, but clearly he needs some help in parallel. Maybe others have better knowledge of the circumstances, but sounds like he wasn’t well suited to the Service, and perhaps he shouldn’t have been put in bombers in the first place. Easy in hindsight though, isn’t it…

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
May 18, 2015 6:59 pm

@ RT I am betting the sub wasn’t designed to store rubbish for long periods, but now the regulations have changed I presume they have to store it all, but I would have thought they would do a better job of adapting to it. The storing of stuff in any spare space though is very plausible, I remember hearing that when HMS Conqueror deployed in 82 the main passageway’s floor was one can height higher as they had stored all their cans of food in it.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 18, 2015 7:00 pm

I suspect there’s going to be a real stewards’ enquiry about this. Too politically sensitive right now, with Main Gate for Successor and a rampant SNP. Part of that will no doubt be the psychometric stuff about

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 18, 2015 7:03 pm

Pressed “post” too soon, but I think the point is there.

monkey
monkey
May 18, 2015 7:16 pm

Perhaps the RN could use a company like this.
http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://www.edie.net/products/Waste-Compactor-for-Vessels—Garbage-Compactor-for-Ships—Trash-Compactor-for-all-kind-of-Ships/4561&sa=U&ei=CDlaVZ3tMM6R7AahoYDoCQ&ved=0CA8QFjAA&usg=AFQjCNGQCbHPFhLk7hWhwncqOB8BgFLnrw
A sister company to one I worked for supplied a machine called a ‘disintegrator’ to the military. It turned confidential waste paper into paper pulp . This could then be literally flushed confident no enterprising Ivan in his spy trawler harvesting waste thrown overboard could piece together even a letter, let alone a word as the machine turned the waste paper into its constituent fibres.

Aubrey's Shadow
Aubrey's Shadow
May 18, 2015 7:21 pm

This psychometric stuff is so …..un-British. We almost sniff at it, but it’s very effective in reality, and when done properly. The Russian and US intelligence agencies rely heavily on polygraphs, for example, and they get good service from the results, or so it is believed at the moment. I guess there could be a bit of a lag on the verdict, thinking about it. I’m no expert, and my instinct would be against it, as we seem to have managed well enough for centuries without it, as we used old fashioned peer-assessment and filtration, but if reporting systems and human rights have neutered the old ways of sorting out the odd-balls, might we now have to rely more on new procedures and technology ?

Topman
Topman
May 18, 2015 7:26 pm

Re Waste

I thought it was environmental regs that the government choose to impliment but wasn’t forced to. In particlular dumping waste at sea, I think military vessels are exempt but the MoD choose not to use that exemption?

From Luddite Lodge
From Luddite Lodge
May 19, 2015 7:02 am

I damn well hope so.

The Other Chris
May 19, 2015 9:45 am

McNeilly has “handed himself in”:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-32791755

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
May 19, 2015 10:15 am

They are exempt I believe and in a war situation they would probably dump rubbish but they won’t in peacetime as it would be bad PR, it shouldn’t be an issue on newer vessels like Astute as they should have taken it into consideration when they were designed, they problem comes from trying to make an older vessel meet new regulations and procedures.

Obsvr
Obsvr
May 23, 2015 8:16 am

I didn’t need any of that polygraph crap when I was inviting PIRA chaps in for a chat. I’d also be happy to put together an ad hoc nuclear surety team and deliver a real inspection and a right royal arse kicking to the sloppy bastards pretending to be sailors, starting with the officers who are clearly hopeless.