Channel 4 interview reveals USA and UK cold war nuclear near misses at home – and current Trident ‘safety issues’

American investigative journalist Eric Schlosser, whose new book, Command and Control, did an interview on Monday 14th October with Jon Snow of Channel 4.

The focus of the interview was the book – which details the results of researches into the realities of cold war nuclear gung ho, which make the seminal Peter Sellars film, Dr Strangelove, look uncannily like a documentary.

Schlosser’s researches were undertaken in the USA and here in the UK – which he found to be significantly the more secretive of the two.

It emerges that on two occasions, America was saved from the most unimaginable nuclear holocaust by miraculous technical malfunction.

A nuclear warhead, three times the power of ALL of the bombs used by all combatants in the entire second World War – including the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – fell on Damascus Arkansas in 1980. Had it detonated, it would, in Schlosser’s words ‘have incinerated the whole state’. Schlosser’s book [and yes, it's at Amazon] apparently describes this issue in virtually a second-by-second fashion.

Then there was the Carolina incident, where a nuclear bomb 260 times more powerful than the Hiroshoma atomic bomb, deployed its parachute after its carrier B52 aircraft developed a fuel leak – with the correct signal sent to detonate – this time prevented only by a faulty safety switch which blocked the nuclear trigger.

Here in the UK, in 1956, at RAF Lakenheath, long used an air base by the American air force and home to the USAF 48th Fighter Wing – aka The Liberty Wing – a B47 crashed into a bunker full of nuclear warheads.

When Snow asked Schlosser for reassurance that all is safer today, Schlosser agreed that nuclear weapons are very much safer than they were.

However, he noted that as long as 20 years ago ‘some safety issues’ around the Trident missile system were notified to the US Congress. Today, the UK’s system nuclear deterrent, is based at Coulport and Faslane on Argyll’s Clyde coast, and carried on patrol from and to Faslane by the Vanguard submarines.

The issue with the Trident missiles, according to Schlosser, is that, unusually for such missiles, the warhead is not carried on top of the missile but surrounds the third stage rocket engine whose propellant ‘explodes easily if dropped’.

Schlosser said laconically: ‘I hope in Scotland that they’re very careful when they’re loading and unloading the missiles’.

These are, of course, the danger points. It is known that a warhead was dropped at Faslane in such a sequence.

There are other points of risk with nuclear warheads – both at Coulport itself and at the points there of the departure and return of the warheads for servicing – in which they are disassembled and rebuilt – at the notorious Gravel Gerties at AWE Burghfield, near Reading in Berkshire.

However, it is clear from what Schlosser said that the greatest rock comes from dropping a warhead-carrying Trident missile, rather than the warhead alone; so the loading onto and unloading from the submarines is the danger point.

Watch the Snow/Schlosser interview here for yourself. Since the interview is clearly being done by Schlosser to promote his book, we felt that his remarks on ‘some safety issues’ around Trident , made after a marked pause, were not removed from commercial motivation.

We say this objectively, from the position of being committed to unilateral nuclear disarmament.

Just because some things may be used to support one’s position does not mean that they should be used in that service if they cannot securely justify it.

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66 Responses to Channel 4 interview reveals USA and UK cold war nuclear near misses at home – and current Trident ‘safety issues’

  1. how many more reasons do we need to get it through to Westminster that the useless trident system submarines don’t need replacing, the whole system needs scrapping?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 8

  2. I’ve heard talk of a potentially serious accident at the US Holy Loch submarine base, with both nuclear powered submarines and missile warheads in the vicinity.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 8

  3. Robert, yes, the yanks “dropped” a few missiles at the Holy Loch whilst loading and unloading their subs! Well reported at the time.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 4

    • DunoonLad, we’ve both got a number of ‘thumbsdown’- people who can’t accept facts? people just being silly? or people who really quite fancy the idea of nuclear armageddon in Argyll?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

  4. First let me say, I’m all in favour of ditching nukes. However, the implication of the article seems to be that a nuclear warhead could be activated by a conventional explosion in its vicinity. That seems… unlikely based on the careful engineering required to achieve critical mass. The likely consequence seems to be a small explosion that would result in potential radiological contamination in the immediate area. The earlier nuclear trigger incidents are obviously hair-raising, but the more recent potential accidents seem to be relatively minor in comparison.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 4

  5. If in doubt, safety first. These abhorrent weapons of mass destruction which if used would clearly be a war crime should be scrapped or at least removed from Scotland’s shores. their proximity to our largest city makes it a safety no brainer. I have passionately believed in nuclear disarmament all my adult life. The removal of these is the settled will of the Scottish people, the overwhelming and clear majority in favour of getting rid. Only a yes vote next year will secure this. I like the view that possession is nine tenths and that following independence we should just keep them and decommission them ourselves. Interesting to see what RUK thought of that!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 10

    • It is clear that the comments from Schlosser are to promote his book and make money for him. Some of the information is clearly rubbish. The report above states that a warhead was dropped at Faslane. Anyone who knows anything about what goes on at Faslane knows that warheads are not loaded or unloaded at Faslane. They are never removed from the submarines at Faslane.
      Ron Simon states that the removal of nuclear weapons is the settled will of the Scottish People? Only the SNP would state this. Even although the SNP would like us to believe otherwise, recent polls show that this is a low priority for the Scottish people.
      The SNP also try to avoid telling us that their policy is the same as Scottish CND in that they also want rid of all nuclear powered submarines and not just the four Trident boats that carry nuclear weapons. That being the case, 11,000 jobs would be lost within Argyll & Bute. An utter disaster for the area. No doubt Ron Simon and the SNP will say that the Scottish Navy will be based at Faslane and will replace these jobs. It has already been stated by most experts that only 1,000 jobs would be required at Faslane for the Scottish Navy if you compare what happens in most of the other Nordic and European countries.
      Such a policy would be a “bombshell” for Argyll & Bute and for Scotland. At least when the Scottish people speak next year through the referendum, we can say that the will of the Scottish people is to reject separation and the removal of Trident. That will then be the clear settled will of the Scottish people.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 16

      • It’s a fair point Bringiton. Recent claims that Scotland are in favour of nuclear disarmament are largely based on a CND poll which was a tad biased in the wording of the question, whereas claims that they aren’t are largely based on Lord Ashcroft’s poll which was equally biased.

        The simple fact is there is currently no clear picture about Scotland’s majority ‘will’ on the future of nuclear.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 10

        • there is majority cross party agreement in Holyrood that nukes should go (Torys probably not in that majority) … to say it’s largely just CND is disingenuous

          Holyrood MSP’s haven’t blindly followed their westminster masters on this issue & the UK view is not what I’m referring to

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 8

          • First of all we were talking about the ‘will’ of the Scottish people, not Scotland’s political parties so it isn’t disengenuous, nor was I saying it was CND – I said it was from the results of a poll commissioned by CND (and I also made clear that the opposing pool was equally iffy).

            As for the parties it isn’t quite as clear as you claim it to be.

            Tories want to keen them – we know that.

            SNP and Greens want rid – we know that.

            Labour do not support them going unilaterally. They are on record as saying they support Trident as Britain’s minimum nuclear deterrent and that, inkeeping with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty they are committed to working for ‘ the global elimination of nuclear weapons.’ – that is a different position from wanting rid in the way SNP and Green party does.

            The Lib Dems have gone on record to say that they would maintain Britain’s overall defence capability at its current level, whilst ensuring UK forces meet current needs, and are appropriate to potential threats. They further state ‘While it seems inconceivable that the UK would ever use a nuclear weapon, simply deciding to disarm now would not yield financial savings in the next Parliament nor would it give us leverage in global nuclear disarmament talks. Thus, we believe a step down the nuclear ladder towards a minimal yet credible deterrent offers the deterrence coupled with a clear commitment to disarmament.

            Not really cross party agreement.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 6

      • if there weren’t the MoD related jobs in Faslane/Coulport there there would have been oil jobs in their place from west coast oil in Firth of Clyde & west of Kintyre

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 8

      • And where did you get the 11,000 figure? and while we are on it where did you get the 1000 figure? Can we have some sources, as neither figure looks remotely credible to me. The first looks grossly inflated and remarkably close to what Better Together says (which immediate makes it suspect). The second presumably excludes some part or all of crew, support, supply chain and Navy management.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

        • 11000 might not be that far off, according to wiki there are 7000 mod+civilian staff, RN puts that at 6500, so another 4000 or so jobs supported by the base in the local economy wouldn’t be that hard to prove, from everything from teachers to bakers to supermarket workers to doctors in the local community it would soon easily add up so 11000 is not exceptionally high

          as for the 1000 figure, thats on the low side, SNP have specifically stated that faslane would become the joint HQ for the new scottish armed forces, so i would imagine the number of staff based there to be around 4000 considering they have stated that total size of a new scottish armed force would be 15000 in total across the country

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

        • The 11,000 figure is based on an ECOS study for Scottish Enterprise a few years back and has been adjusted to include the 2,000 additional jobs that are coming to Faslane from the Maritime Change Programme that sees all UK submarines transferred to Faslane along with all the training facilities. When you include all direct jobs along with the 2,000 additional jobs and the multiplier effect, you arrive at the 11,000 jobs.
          The 1,000 jobs is the figure stated by Dr Phillips O’Brien, Director of War Studies at Glasgow University.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

          • Dr O’Brien is not a very credible source I am afraid, he grossly understated Scottish GDP a few months ago, and there are a number of other analysts whose knowledge and understanding make his look woefully poor.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      • Bringiton2014
        “…That being the case, 11,000 jobs would be lost within Argyll & Bute. An utter disaster for the area..”
        Your source for this bald assertion please?

        “…from teachers to bakers to supermarket workers to doctors”
        You forgot Uncle Tom Cobbley & all!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

        • Helensburgh has a population, I understand, of about 18,000. Throw in Dumbarton with another 25,000,

          Then take away 6,500 direct jobs, how many contractors, sub-contractors, doctors, lawyers, teachers, bakers, publicans, restaurateurs, shops, cafes, garages, etc., etc., etc., will be adversely affected?

          Then take away the fall in property prices and the buildes go down.

          Then take away all the aboves’ rates and coucil tax payments, then cut the council jobs, etc., etc., etc..

          I suppose there will still be jobs for some, servicing those wealthy Glasgow commuters and retirees who decide to stay put in a run-down district.

          How did Motherwell fare after the steel closures in the 1980s?

          Somebody remarked on another thread that a council finance director had stated that Argyll and Bute Council wouldn’t be viable without the Helensburgh area. I happen to think that’s questionable, however, if it’s true then even halving Faslane/Coulport will have a very damaging effect on the whole of Argyll and a devastating effect in that area.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

      • The “Jobs” argument is disingenuous.

        It was used by mine owners to prevent legislation preventing small children being sent down mines and up chimneys. It is used by trade unionists to protect the rights of unions to protect their payroll deductions from large unionised workplaces including cigarette factories.

        Anyone who uses the “jobs” argument demonstrates the lack of any legitimate justification, and nothing that they might say on this or any other topic should be taken at face value.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

      • ” Anyone who knows anything about what goes on at Faslane knows that warheads are not loaded or unloaded at Faslane. They are never removed from the submarines at Faslane” Strangely Wikipedia seems to disagree with you. Perhaps you should go and contest that page there. No one else has strangely. “Coulport is used to store the warheads and provides loading and unloading facilities”

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • “…we should just keep them and decommission them ourselves. Interesting to see what RUK thought of that!”

      Now there’s a v.nice idea….

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

    • While its ok to discuss the up’s and down’s of both nuclear weapons and nuclear power…
      Why, oh’why do some narrow minded posters have to keep heading off at a tangent and tenously link all of Scotland’s woe’s to the “Yes/No” Indy vote….surely there are more important issues taking place somwhere on the planet?
      I hear if Scotland votes “YES” the SNP already has a plan to lay a yellow brick road all the way from Westminster to the Emerald Palace in Edinburgh.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

  6. No doubt for the Better Together folk this is a price worth paying for the Union. After all the Thames and The Southern England are safe.
    Funny how there are no comments from them so far!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 7

    • We have published before on the Gravel Gerties at AWE Burghfield – and on Burghfield’s long running failure to address a long list of safety failures at its establishment from its own statutory authority.
      We’ll locate these articles in the archive and add the links to the comments list here for anyone to read.
      If you read them and you think about where Reading is [not far from Windsor on the London approaches] you will see that any serious incident at Burghfield would certainly affect London.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

  7. Re Comment 6 above and our own response to that, here is the material we said we would locate.
    In 2008 the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) was still identifying 1,000 safety shortfalls at AWE [Atomic Weapons Establishment] Burghfield – which had not been addressed.
    See our articles below, of May and August 2008:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

    • So is this supposed to make us happy

      What about the safety concerns in Argyll ?

      We live here?

      Fundamentally though nuclear weapons are not necessary in Scotland . I would rather have an oil refinery producing goods and services and aiding GDP

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

      • You seem to have as much difficulty in understanding the role of straightforward information as you do in understanding objective, evidence-based judgment.
        This is intended to INFORM understanding and assist thought – not to provide handy clods of earth to throw at an opponent.
        Given the nature of the information, it is hard to see how it might make any sensible person happy.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9

        • Evidence based judgement ?

          From For Argyll that would be a first.
          I asked for information about safety in Argyll – you provide information on London.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 8

          • We were responding to two of your comments in one related chain, Stewarty.
            Under your Comment 6 – which we did reference in our original response – at Comment 7 – you said:
            ‘After all the Thames and The Southern England are safe.’
            So our response to yours in the Comment 7 chain – ‘So is this supposed to make us happy’ – related to your original comment to which we were focused on responding.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

  8. For Stewarty – in chain to Comment 7:
    You had asked about safety in Argyll.
    You may find the following articles helpful – from 2008, 2009 and 2010.
    There is the further issue of the safety of storage of radioactive waste at the Clyde base, on which SEPA, such as it is, had had longstanding concerns. We’ll locate the article and add the link here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

    • So, newsie, you are worried about the nuclear subs. But you are not so worried that you will take the only step which will remove them (i.e. vote YES) – well, all I can take from this is that you aren’t too worried – not as much as you profess to be, or as much as I am, for example, (or as much as most of us should be). A remarkable show of hypocrisy, even for you!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 6

    • Voting YES or NO makes NO difference during a nuclear incident/accident. (its a political tool) you really think shifting a few nukes south of the border will make Argyll or Scotland a safer place…humbug..and selfish

      If one of these subs goes pop ! or one of the weapons goes pop! or a nuke power station goes pop…the generated magic moon beams know no borders…better to support a total decomissioning throughout the EU of these WMD.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

      • It’ll make a bit of difference if it goes “pop”, as you like to frivolously put it, in the Clyde, or in Portsmouth. You are right about total decommissioning but who wants to trust the UK gov to do that – hell will freeze over first.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  9. I remember many years ago seeing a map of the potential blast area in the event of an explosion at Coulport. It revealed more about the attitude of the MOD to the population than the area which would be in danger.
    The danger area on the map radiated out across Loch Long in all directions. However, by some miracle, it stopped just short of Ardentinny, about 200 metres out on the loch, but on either side of the village, it went right to the top of the hills. This, I presume, was to reassure the villagers that they were safe in the event of a mishap. I wonder to this day if the MOD really expected us to believe that the blast would not reach Ardentinny or if they thought that, in the event of an accident, there would be nobody left in the village to argue the point. They must think that the locals have a zip up the back of their heads.
    It was obvious they were lying and I have seen nothing to this day which would convince me that they have ever stopped lying to get their own way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

    • Yes, if you want a prejudiced, basically anti-independence view masquerading as an “unbiased” opinion from a carefully chosen “expert” , which is all we have come to expect from the BBC, this is your show.

      ” affect Scotlands entry into NATO and the EU” – gies a break pal – this position has been well rubbished long ago! As for the rest … I’ve got better things to waste my time on.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

      • I’ve just watched this, and didn’t detect the prejudice and bias that’s got you so annoyed , – but then I don’t see the BBC as the Great Satan, either, pal.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

        • That is because you have presumably a proclivity to see anything pro-union as “must be right” Nothing I can do about that – only you can open your eyes.

          PS Not your “pal”, I presume.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

          • It will need more than criticism of the West emanating from Russia to make “Russia Today” better than the BBTwee, perhaps similar comment from “Switzerland Today” or “Sweden Today” would be more convincing.

            I confess I haven’t seen much of “Russia Today. Do they criticise the Kremlin with equal gusto as they do the Whitehouse?

            There was an accompanying article extolling the virtues of activism in which it quite forthrightly referred to the need for humans’s herd instinct to be stirred so that they may make a difference.

            That’s all very well provided the cause is genuinely worthwhile however it seems to me – borne out by the “herd” comment – that many of those chanting in the various throngs of demonstrators are well into the category of Orwell’s sheep in “Animal Farm” giving laldy to the old “Four legs good, two legs bad!” routine.

            What goes on here in For Argyll, people sifting through each other’s arguments, quibbling, is infinitely more valuable – the pen is not only “mightier than the sword”, but also, “mightier than the chanted word”.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

          • That article is scaremongering at it’s very best.

            Tankers containing tens of thousands of tonnes of oil go up Loch Long every week. If one of them has an accident, you can wave good bye to all forms of marine life in the Clyde for decades.

            I don’t see Nationalists jumping up and down at this very real risk that’s only a freak storm away from happening. don’t believe me? Plenty of incidents like this have actually happened over the last few years. Ocean Light I think? The cargo ship that plouged straight into Bute? Spilling of non radioactive heavy oil in Faslane? Fortunately non have resulted in a serious spill yet.

            The worst part of the nuclear scaremongering is that the SNP are happy to have nuclear power stations here whilst it suits their agenda, in fact quite happy to have the life of Hunterston extended. They also appear to have no issue if nuclear power or weapons are on English soil, naively oblivious to the fact that if the wind is blowing the wrong way should one of their predicted disasters happen, it would possibly be even worse for Scotland.

            The SNP stance on nuclear is fairly nonsensical. For once, I agree with the Labour stance on this. Which is slap bang in the middle and the one which all parties should be pursuing, SNP included. Their ‘it’s okay as long as it’s not here’ stance is pathetic.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

          • JB – surely the big tankers and munitions ships that go up to Finnart are kept under extremely close control by operating procedures and accompanying tugs, whereas the coaster beaching on Bute was the sort of accident due to crew negligence that seems to occur fairly regularly to small cargo boats in UK coastal waters.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

        • For a starter, the “expert” said that any tampering with Trident could affect Scotland’s membership of both NATO and the EU. As I mentioned above this view has been comprehensively rubbished by many commentators (look them up yourselves). If you don’t think that is bias I give up.
          As for Robert Wakeham, I reject his slur, although I have to agree that he obviously knows more about boorishness than I do. Perhaps he was annoyed that I didn’t want to be his “pal” .

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

      • A much more balanced view, by someone with no axe to grind. Take note please, Barrmore, Wakeham etc. (Apologies if you don’t like to be bracketed together!)

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

        • Certainly a different view, but which one is more balanced (rather than just fits the notion of what would be nice for Scotland/Britain in an ideal world) is open to question, and the views of Michael Smith do seem to weigh towards Scotland relying on protection by others in time of serious trouble. The idea that Faslane & Coulport are more of a liability than an asset might be true – but I’m no more convinced that a Scotland-based nuclear capability has no relevance than I am by the idea that the demise of the Warsaw Pact has ended any potential threat from east of Europe.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

          • Nuclear weapons have no conceivable use except to a psychopath. Their employment is just not credible as a threat to anyone. As for Russia, etc. why would anyone want to take over a country which, according to the nay-sayers, can’t even govern itself? Be even more of a problem to them.
            The only credible scenarios for any kind of conflict for Scotland are limited to fish wars and terrorist attacks on oil platforms. No nukes required, and only small conventional forces

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  10. Other near misses and fatalities.

    In 1979 our small trawler,fishing west of Gigha, was towed stern first at 18 mph for 2 miles by the fully armed nuclear Submarine “USS GEORGE WASHINGTON”.

    At the point when only one plank of wood on the hull remained above sea level we managed to cut the trawl warps.The sub carried on underwater with all our net and gear still attached.

    The m.o.d. Denied any knowledge of submarine activity in the area until they realised that eight other boats had witnessed the near miss .A rogue submarine in the sound of Islay did not make them look too clever,so,they had to admit, reluctantly, that the American sub was responsible.

    That night,undercover of darkness,the Submarine involved limped somewhere to have the gear removed and appeared the following morning crawling into Faslane with the scars of our trawl wires clearly visible.

    There was much speculation at the time regarding some of the other possible outcomes of this NEAR MISS.

    A few years later the crew of Antares were less fortunate when they were pulled to the bottom during a training exercise overseen from Faslane.

    A close friend of ours ,Stuart,was one of the young men who perished.
    Stuart was not married although he did have a long-term girlfriend.
    The M.o.d. In their compassion,offered Stuart,s parents £2000 in way of compensation.
    Stuart,s father was a complete gentleman and told the M.O.D. To keep it.

    Not much has changed.

    Clyde Fishermen= Worthless,Dispensible and easily forgotten.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

      • They are defending the Establishment. I saw a story somewhere last year where scientists from Porton Down, or whatwever it’s called, anchored a barge in the Minch and released deadly germs on the deck where they had quinea pigs in cages. It happened around 1948 and they were anchored within a mile of the north east shore of Lewis.

        To them we are a lot less important than their guinea pigs.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

        • You’re at it again Murdoch – living in the past and using it to justify decisions for today.

          1948. Presumably you harbour hate or resentment towards the Germans for all the woe’s their country caused? Or are you like so many other bitter Nationalists who blame the UK for the deaths of Scots at the hands of the Nazis?

          Come on – it’s 2013 for goodness sake.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 13

          • You can have your joke pm. Presumably if you think my comparison with the German’s is inappropriate, then you’ll agree Murdoch’s constant bleating about events in the distant past is equally inappropriate to a yes vote in 2014?

            It amounts to the same – take Godwins Law and replace Nazi’s with Westminster/Uk Govt and a date in the past. and you are there! :)

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

    • Tommy – what was the name of your fishing boat in that 1979 incident? Can you point us to records / narratives on it – and/or can you tell us more? How many of you were on board at the time? The best way to counter the ‘easily forgotten’ issue is to get good records into places where they can be easily found.
      Another local link to the USS George Washington is that she was the first US missile submarine to deliver a successful launch of the first Polaris missile, while submerged – on July 20, 1960; with the Holy Loch then tied into the history of that missile.
      The Antares’ nets were snagged on 22 November 1990 by the Trafagar class nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarine, HMS Trenchant in the Sound of Bute.
      Trenchant was in the process of a ‘Perisher’ Submarine Command Course exercise, working with the surface vessel, the frigate, HMS Charybdis.
      Antares was pulled under with the loss of all four members of the crew.
      The Marine Accident Investigation Board [MAIB] report is here:
      Antares was recovered and given to the Maritime Museum as a memorial to those who died.
      HMS Trenchant was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 14 January 1989, under a year before she took Antares to her grave; and is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2017.
      HMS Charybdis – a Leander class frigate – was decommissioned in September 1991. She was sunk as a target on 11 June 1993.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  11. Our family boat at the time was the “Aquila”OB99.My father bought the boat from the McLean,s in Dervaig.

    All the national papers covered the incident and the Daily Record printed a full size picture on their cover.This was the first colour picture they had ever printed.
    One paper ran a cartoon showing the submarine surfacing with the conning tower covered by our net..
    Funny perhaps ,after the event.

    The memory of Antares is always painful at this time of year and I have no wish to make it any harder to bear by bringing it back into public glare.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  12. “Voting YES or NO makes NO difference during a nuclear incident/accident. (its a political tool) you really think shifting a few nukes south of the border will make Argyll or Scotland a safer place…humbug..and selfish”

    @Karl Hughes

    There are other factors that make Scotland ridding herself of these weapons very worth while. Our safety although of paramount importance of course cannot be guaranteed even if these weapons were relocated elsewhere within the rUK.
    Take cost, Scotland’s approximate 4.5 billion annual contribution towards the UK defence budget and the proposed savings of 1.5 billion, could that money be better more morally invested?
    What about a future Scotland taking a stand in saying the deterrent is not something this country wish to be associated with and the removal of them from our shores the best way to show this. Who do the weapons in today’s world protect us from? Gone is the cold war, so where is the threat? Nuclear weapons are symbolic, phallic posturing obscenities, a vanity project we can no longer prioritise when faced with the consequences of economic mismanagement throughout the UK by consecutive administrations in London at the expense of these!

    Voting YES or NO may well make little difference to our safety north of the border although this assertion is questionable and not watertight. The difference voting ‘YES’ will most definitely make and deliver in relation to these weapons and our intentions is long term savings to a Scottish defence budget, an important moral high ground where Scotland is seen to be leading by example and last but most certainly not least a will of a majority in this country being served.

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