The Office of Nuclear Regulation has announced a decision to prosecute Devonport Royal Dockyard, where Trident submarines are refitted and refuelled, over health and safety breaches.

In December it was reported that cranes that lift nuclear fuel at the dockyard had been halted amid a series of safety alerts. It has now emerged that the dockyard had breached crane regulations during work on the HMS Vanguard nuclear weapons submarine in September 2018 when a weight narrowly missed a worker. The case is due to open on 23 July at Plymouth Magistrates Court.

Kate Hudson, CND general secretary, said:

“News of this safety breach is alarming, not least because it is just the latest in a long list of incidents that have occurred over many years. Indeed, unsafe practices have dogged not only Trident submarines but the nuclear weapons infrastructure overall. The very least we should expect from the Ministry of Defence is the highest level of safety standards in dealing with such dangerous weapons. No one wants to see a nuclear accident.”


This is the most recent in a long list of safety issues that have plagued Britain’s nuclear submarines, including:

  • April 2019: The “dismal failure” to clean up 20 out of service nuclear submarines that have been left with ageing nuclear fuel inside near population centres.
  • January 2019: It was revealed that 789 safety incidents had been recorded at UK nuclear bases.
  • January 2019: Reported in the Telegraph that one one of the UK’s nuclear weapons submarines has returned from its patrol with excessive levels of damage.
  • November 2018: 505 safety incidents were revealed at Faslane naval base over the past 12 years.
  • September 2018: Trident infrastructure was declare “no longer fit for purpose.”
  • August 2018: The US navy found faulty welding in several missile tubes set to be used as part of the UK’s new Dreadnought nuclear weapons-armed submarines.
  • August 2018: The Office for Nuclear Regulation threatening to shut down Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Burghfield over safety concerns.
  • July 2016: A Trident missile misfired, veering several thousand miles off course.