A Royal Navy nuclear-armed submarine had to abandon its mission and resurface, after a fire broke out onboard following an electrical fault. 

The Ministry of Defence said the incident on HMS Victorious happened six weeks ago. The blaze broke out in an electrical component in one of the submarine’s systems but carbon dioxide injectors built into the module extinguished it. However, all crew were scrambled to tackle the fire and look for others and the sub’s commander had to surface the vessel in the North Atlantic. After the fire was contained, Victorious returned to port at Faslane in Scotland.

Victorious is one of Britain’s four Vanguard-class nuclear-armed submarines with one vessel constantly on patrol ready to launch a nuclear strike. The MoD said the sub wasn’t on patrol during the time of the fire and was en route to the US for wargames. 

News of the incident comes after it was revealed in September that another vessel, HMS Vanguard, would remain in dry-dock for the foreseeable future after more technical issues were discovered.  Vanguard has been in deep maintenance since 2015 at a cost of £500 million. The delay has compounded problems for the Royal Navy – whose so-called “Continuous at-Sea Deterrence” is reportedly operating at half capacity. 

Meanwhile, a whistleblower told STV that staff working at Royal Naval Armaments Depot (RNAD) Coulport – the base where Britain’s nuclear weapons are stored – had to be evacuated due to a “serious radiation breach.”

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: “The revelations about HMS Victorious further underline the risks that these weapons present – a disaster waiting to happen. The fact that the sub had to surface and expose itself illustrates both how fallible the technology is and how baseless the myth of ‘invisibility’. The news from Coulport reinforces these concerns. Meanwhile, billions of pounds are being pumped into maintaining these vessels and warheads and billions more in developing news ones. It’s time to stop this irresponsible waste before a real tragedy occurs.”