By Dan Greene
For many decades now, the UK’s nuclear weapons have been housed at Faslane Naval base in Scotland. The Trident programme has been a divisive issue in the UK as a whole for some time, but this week Able Seaman William McNeilly, 25 (who according to Wikileaks has been in contact with them since the beginning of May) released a dossier online detailing his concerns that the Trident programme was a “disaster waiting to happen” and then promptly went on the run before being apprehended at Edinburgh airport although many mainstream media outlets are reporting that he “handed himself in to Royal Navy police”. I don’t know what actually happened but if I was on the run and in an airport I would probably not be there to hand myself in, I’d probably do that a police station. But that’s just conjecture on my part.
So what is the Trident programme? It comes from the US actually. From scraptrident.org:
“The UK’s nuclear arsenal is a version of the US Trident. The missiles used in the system are so accurate that they can be used as a “first-strike” weapon. This means they can be used to attack enemy installations in the hope of preventing a counter strike. This makes the system more dangerous since it – theoretically – could be used without the absolute guarantee of destructive retaliation, so gaining – theoretically – a strategic advantage.
Each warhead is around 8 times as powerful as the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima and each missile can deliver a number of these warheads. They are designed to attack cities and cause enormous loss of life and hideous suffering for survivors.”
That sounds just great for someone like me who lives quite near this facility.
So what are the concerns that McNeilly (engineering technician submariner who was on patrol with HMS Victorious this year) had that he felt he needed to share? Well for a start there is the security issue. The dossier he wrote refers to a shocking lack of security in the base, take this quote for example:
“I’m sure all the Strategic Weapon System (SWS) personnel are scratching their heads and wondering how I’m writing this on my personnel laptop and referencing a book [CB8890: The instructions for the safety and security of the Trident II D5 strategic weapon system] which is contained within a safe in the Missile Control Centre (MCC). The MCC is the compartment used to control the launch of the nuclear missiles. It can only be accessed by people on the access list, and no personnel electronics are allowed. I was on the access list but how could I have gotten a copy of every single chapter on to my phone? A hidden camera? No. Smuggled the book out then filmed it? No. What I did was walk into a room were no recording devices are allowed. I sat down; took my Samsung Galaxy SII (white) out of my pocket, and recorded the entire book word for word. I held the phone still, about a foot in front of my face and anyone who looked at the screen or used common sense, would’ve seen I was recording. There were other SWS personnel in the room; in the video you can see a SWS JR about 3 feet in front of me talking to another SWS JR sitting right beside me. You probably think that’s impossible but I’ve got the evidence to prove it. The complete lack of concern for security worries me. The fact is it would’ve been even easier for me to cause a nuclear catastrophe than to gather that information, and gathering that information was actually quite simple, due to the amount of ignorance.”
Unfortunately it doesn’t get any better, McNeilly also brings up the issue with official ID’s going missing frequently :
“At a Base security brief we were told that thousands of Royal Navy IDs go missing every year. A terrorist can use them, or create counterfeits with them and easily gain access down the submarine. Considering most of the guards barely look at them from a few metres (couple of feet if their the rare ones) away the fakes wouldn’t have to be too perfect. I’ve shown a room card or nothing, at least once at every check point.”
Now, while I don’t exactly buy into the mainstream media’s terrorist over exaggerations, this is still a very worrying quote.
But not quite as bad as this one:
“If you’ve been through airport security after 9/11 you’ll have seen how thorough the security is nowadays. If airport security and Nuclear weapon security were both compared to prisons, the airport would be Alcatraz and Base security would be house arrest.”
So if he is telling the truth then airport security is more stringent than security at naval bases which house nuclear subs!?! Seriously?
McNeilly also detailed horrendous failings in safety onboard the subs:
“The crew was getting ready to sail; I was assisting with storing the supplies on the boat. This day gave a good indication as to how the patrol was going to be; disorganised and a risk to health. Nobody took charge of storing ship. Most of the crew that was supposed to be helping us left early, there was food on the ground, food thrown in skip/bin, with wrappers busted and people throwing food at personnel on the casing and a lot of food to still waiting to get brought onboard. We had started in the morning and it wasn’t until the night that the PO came out to take charge. He ordered us to bring onboard the meat which was laying on the floor and in the bin for a good part of the day. There was meat which had dirt on it because the wrapper was busted; it was still brought onboard for us to eat on patrol. The firefighting equipment was brought on board at the last minute and stowed away in a rush by BSQs (non submarine qualified personnel); most of them didn’t know where to put the gear. If the suits were stored incorrectly it could dramatically affect the response time to an incident. I also don’t like the idea of removing a lot of the firefighting equipment from the submarine whilst in harbour. Their reasoning is, it’s for re-entering the submarine from the casing if there’s a fire. How about having sets onboard and sets at the fire dump for re-entry, so the other PPI Gold teams have the option of getting dressed anywhere onboard or from the casing. I said that to a PO and his response was”it’s a good point, they probably don’t do it for money reasons.” Considering the Billions that’s poured into these submarines, I doubt and hope it’s not for money reasons.”
As if that isn’t a health and safety nightmare then how bad is the fact that McNeilly claims that even alarms were muted:
“I could sometimes here alarms on the missiles Control and Monitoring Position (CAMP) while laying in bed. I later found out that I would’ve been hearing them more frequently if they didn’t mute the console; just to avoid listening to the alarms This is the position that monitors the condition of the missiles, and they muted the alarms. One of the watch keepers told me and laughed about how they would deal with any issues; they would deviate from set procedures because the procedures can be “long and winding.” He said “sometimes you just know that you can adjust a valve slightly and that would solve the problem. Following the procedures might take you down a long and winding path.” You might think that’s no big deal, just an engineer using his engineering skills; if he was caught doing this kind of action on an American submarine it would cost him his job and possibly his freedom. If you work on the Strategic Weapon System you must follow the procedures, mistakes can be catastrophic.”
I actually thought I was horrified enough before I read the claims that submarines could easily ‘be lost’:
“A Fire Control Supervisor seen my interest in submarine disasters, so he gave me a book that contained detailed information about Submarine accidents. A lot of submarines have been lost due to simple accidents. If one simple mistake is made it can be all other. You can find some of the information online but most of it is covered up. It’s only a matter of time before one of the Trident submarines are lost. HMS Vanguard a Trident submarine makes an appearance in the book for the deep depth incident. The submarine exceeded 300 meters (safe depth is 65meters). They under estimated the weight of the submarine and didn’t have enough speed for the Aft-planes to create raise. The further the submarine descented the more the weight of the submarine increased due to pressure. The rate of weight increase was greater than the rate that they were pumping out water. The submarine was extremely close to being lost:A Fire Control Supervisor seen my interest in submarine disasters, so he gave me a book that contained detailed information about Submarine accidents. A lot of submarines have been lost due to simple accidents. If one simple mistake is made it can be all other. You can find some of the information online but most of it is covered up. It’s only a matter of time before one of the Trident submarines are lost. HMS Vanguard a Trident submarine makes an appearance in the book for the deep depth incident. The submarine exceeded 300 meters (safe depth is 65meters). They under estimated the weight of the submarine and didn’t have enough speed for the Aft-planes to create raise. The further the submarine descented the more the weight of the submarine increased due to pressure. The rate of weight increase was greater than the rate that they were pumping out water. The submarine was extremely close to being lost.”
Now there is more to this document but I think this is bad enough. There is also a political element to this which may affect some media coverage though. During the Scottish independence referendum of 2014 the issue of Trident came up with the ruling party of the limited (by the London-based Westminster parliament) Scottish parliament the Scottish National Party (SNP) who oppose Trident in Scotland (but still want to remain part of NATO) who were pro-independence and the other main political parties (Labour, Conservatives) who were anti-independence and want to keep the Trident programme as a ‘deterrent’. The major media organs in the UK were almost all anti-Scottish independence and pro-fear-mongering about Scottish independence. So it was interesting when a Guardian article in 2013 suggested that the nukes couldn’t be moved out of Scotland to England.
A spokesman also said the navy “completely disagreed” with Mr McNeilly’s report, claiming that it “contains a number of unsubstantiated personal views, made by a very junior sailor” however if something went wrong at Faslane Naval Base, it wouldn’t be the Navy spokesman who would have to worry, it will be people who live near it, like me.
An online petition calling on the MoD and Crown Prosecution Service to grant McNeilly clemency has so far attracted more than 2,700 signatories.
Originally published at Blacklistednews.com