Trident whistleblower to hand himself in to police

The Royal Navy said the Trident submarine fleet operated 'under the most stringent safety regime'. Picture: PA
The Royal Navy said the Trident submarine fleet operated 'under the most stringent safety regime'. Picture: PA
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A ROYAL Navy submariner who claimed security and safety procedures around the Trident nuclear programme mean it could be “infiltrated by a terrorist” has said he will hand himself in to police today.

Military and civilian police are working to locate Able Seaman William McNeilly, 25, who went absent without leave last week after producing an 18-page report containing a series of allegations about the Trident submarines based at Faslane on the Clyde.

His report alleged 30 safety and security flaws on the submarines, describing it as a ‘’disaster waiting to happen’’.

The Royal Navy said the Trident submarine fleet operated “under the most stringent safety regime”.

A post on a Facebook profile apparently belonging to Mr McNeilly said he had “moved between countries, changed location almost every day”, but now “lacks the resources to remain undetected”.

“I will be handing myself into the police today,” it said.

In his report, which was published online and also sent to newspapers and journalists, Mr McNeilly said he is an Engineering Technician Submariner who was on patrol with the Trident submarine HMS Victorious this year.

He claimed there are fire risks and leaks on board and that security checks are rarely carried out on personnel and contractors working on the submarines when they are docked at Faslane.

He also alleged that alarms had been muted because they went off so often, missile safety procedures had been ignored and top-secret information was left unguarded.

Mr McNeilly, originally from Newtownabbey, County Antrim, said he raised concerns with senior officers but decided to publish his claims because they were ignored.

He wrote: “Our nuclear weapons are a target that’s wide open to attack.

“It is just a matter of time before we’re infiltrated by a psychopath or terrorist.”

The Royal Navy said it is ‘’concerned for Mr McNeilly’s whereabouts and well-being’’, and confirmed military police are working with civilian police officers to find out where he is.

The Navy said many of the claims are ‘’subjective and unsubstantiated personal views, made by a very junior sailor, with which the naval service completely disagrees’’.

A spokeswoman said: ‘’The Royal Navy takes security and nuclear safety extremely seriously, and we are fully investigating both the issue of the unauthorised release of this document and its contents.

‘’The naval service operates its submarine fleet under the most stringent safety regime and submarines do not go to sea unless they are completely safe to do so.’’

SNP Westminster group leader Angus Robertson said: “These revelations, if true, are extremely concerning.

“It reads as a nightmare catalogue of serious safety breaches aboard and alongside these nuclear armed submarines.

“Shortages of all types of crew on these submarines has been well-documented and the description of personnel in extremely stressful situations must be alarming given the huge responsibility some of these sailors are given.

“Failure to follow standard safety procedures is unacceptable in any workplace but on a Vanguard submarine on patrol it could result in extreme tragedy, not just for those on board but indeed for the entire planet.”

Asked whether David Cameron had any concerns about the safety of the Trident subs, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “As with all defence equipment, they only operate where we believe the right standards are in place.”