Nuclear submarines hit by more than 200 fires in the past 25Mon Jul 9, 2012 06:2222.214.171.124Nuclear submarines hit by more than 200 fires in the past 25 years
There have been 266 fires on nuclear submarines in the past 25 years, it has emerged.
Britain's Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine HMS Astute. There have been more than 200 fires on nuclear submarines in 25 years. Photo: REUTERS
1:28PM BST 08 Jul 2012
The incidents included 74 on ballistic missile submarines.
Three of the fires happened while the vessels were in naval bases, one of them on a ballistic missile submarine.
Peter Luff, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, gave the figures in response to a parliamentary question by SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson.
Mr Robertson said the "apparent vulnerability" to fire events on these vessels raises "grave questions" for UK ministers.
He said: "Any one of these fires could have had catastrophic consequences and the frequency of these incidents raises the most serious safety concerns.
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"We are not talking about a one-off incident, but a whole diary of near disasters.
"That so many of these incidents occurred on submarines that may have been nuclear armed is deeply troubling.
Reports of a fire on a ballistic missiles submarine, while in port, must be addressed by the MoD - we need to know where this was?
"Beyond the obvious risk to the crew, citizens on shore, and the environment, a significant fire could severely limit the UK's ability to maintain a continuous at-sea deterrent.
It makes a mockery of any UK claims to having a credible 'independent' nuclear deterrent."
He added "Now, more than ever, the time is right to remove nuclear weapons from our waters."
Of the 266 fires, 243 were classed as "small-scale" and categorised as a localised fire, such as a minor electrical fault creating smoke.
There were 20 medium-scale fires that were generally categorised as a localised fire, such as a failure of mechanical equipment creating smoke and flame, requiring the use of "significant onboard resources".
Mr Luff said that information on whether ballistic missile submarines were armed with nuclear weapons when the fires occurred was not available.
There are nuclear submarines based at Faslane on the Clyde but the location of the incidents was not specified.
An MoD spokesman said: "No fire on board any Royal Navy submarine has ever had an impact on nuclear safety or the ability to operate a continuous at-sea deterrent.
"Due to the nature of submarine operations, meticulous records are kept of all incidents involving fire, however small.
Most of those recorded were minor electrical faults that were dealt with quickly, safely and effectively.
"The Royal Navy operates a stringent safety regime on board all its submarines and all personnel receive regular and extensive fire safety training."
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- Nuclear submarines hit by more than 200 fires in the past 25 Telegraph UK, Mon Jul 9 06:22