Reactor incidents on new nuclear subs double in one year

Astute-class submarines HMS Artful (left) and HMS Astute (right), at HM Naval Base Clyde, also known as Faslane. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday January 20, 2016. See PA story DEFENCE Trident. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wir

Astute-class submarines HMS Artful (left) and HMS Astute (right), at HM Naval Base Clyde, also known as Faslane.

The Royal Navy’s new nuclear-powered submarines have been plagued by 69 safety incidents and “near misses” over the last four years.

The Astute class of submarines based at Faslane on the Clyde has seen reported reactor incidents at sea or on shore almost double from 12 in 2014 to 21 in 2015. Though the MoD insists that the incidents are all minor, critics warn that they undermine the boats’ reliability and safety.

The first submarine of the class, HMS Astute, has already been out on operations, and the second, HMS Ambush, was launched in 2011. The third, HMS Artful, was formally handed over to the Royal Navy in December 2015.
The four remaining Astute submarines are either still being built by the defence firm BAE Systems at its Barrow shipyard, or are due to be built there. The construction programme has been subject to a series of delays and cost overruns.

The Ministry of Defence revealed the number of safety events recorded with Astute submarine reactors between January 2012 and January 2016 in response to a request under freedom of information law. There were an average of more than 17 a year, or one every three weeks.

Reported events are not detailed. But they included “any occurrence that has, or could have, led to a reduction in nuclear or radiation safety or that provides an opportunity for operator experience feedback.”

According to the independent nuclear engineer John Large, the submarines were suffering serious problems. “This continuing experience of the Astute class reactor problems not only imperils the boats when at sea but is likely to result in cutbacks to the number of patrols, voyage durations and the extent of roaming of the high seas,” he said.
John Ainslie, coordinator of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, pointed out that Astute submarines had been involved in a series of mishaps, including running aground on the Isle of Skye. “It is only a matter of time before one of these incidents results in a serious nuclear accident,” he said.

An MoD spokeswoman said: “In line with our high safety standards, we record all incidents regardless of how minor they are, to ensure lessons are learnt. There are no issues with the safety of the submarines and the MoD has safely operated over 80 nuclear reactor cores since 1963.”

Story – Herald Scotland

3 thoughts on “Reactor incidents on new nuclear subs double in one year

  1. Pingback: Reactor incidents on new nuclear subs double in one year | Rifleman III Journal

  2. drbillcorcoran

    • Mishandling Previous Events

    An inescapable fact is that when a harmful event is similar to or a repeat of a previous harmful event the previous event was defectively handled. If the previous similar event had been handled effectively this one wouldn’t have happened or would not have been as bad as it was . The causation of the repeat includes the causation of the mishandling as well as the causation of the first one.

    “It is another major mistake to waste a major mistake.”

    “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

    “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”-Otto von Bismarck

  3. Peter Hulme

    By the nature of the beast much is going to be made of any incident involving a nuclear propelled vessel . It really is fear of the unknown . How does any ordinary citizen judge how serious the problems are or how widespread are the possible radiation effects . I think the Admiralty( or whoever) has got to get past the long standing secrecy where submarines are concerned, in this nuclear age — surely more detail without giving away detail the “enemy ” don’t already know .


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