Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006
Petter Joelson, right, and Elisa Silvennoinen, middle, just after release on bail Photo: TP
Petter Joelson, right, and Elisa Silvennoinen, middle, just after release on bail. Photo: TP

All Aboard A Nuclear Submarine

Petter Joelson describes how easy it was for he and his fellow activist, Elisa Sivennoinen, to climb aboard one Britain's nuclear warhead-carrying submarines one night in November....

15th November 2002

On Friday evening at 9.30 we went from the Trident Ploughshares campsite to the Dockyard. After some time of walking through itching bushes outside the fence, we found a good spot to climb it. We put some thick plastic that we found on top of the sharp edges of the fence, and then managed to get over. It was a walk of about 300 metres to the Trident dock, and we passed a tennis court, some houses and docks for other ships. No guards or police were in sight and the few people, walking or in cars, that we passed didn't seem to take any notice of us.

My mouth was dry and my legs soft like spaghetti when we reached the final fence, just outside HMS Vanguard. There it was, the submarine that can wipe out whole cities with a single strike. It was covered with construction works and white plastic and it was huge. We made a small door in the fence with boltcutters we had brought, and went on towards the submarine. There were still no guards visible so we went on-board.

At this stage we were not really sure about what to do. After we had been inside the submarine, and seen the holes on the outside where they fire the missiles, we decided to press an alarm button. The first alarm button we found didn't work, so we went to the other side of the submarine and found two fire alarm buttons. We pressed the first one at 11.30pm according to the police, and we had probably been on and inside of the sub for 20 minutes. Nothing happened in a couple of minutes, so we pressed the other alarm too. Then lots of workers, maybe 10 to 20 came up from the lower parts of the submarine, just where we were standing.

We explained to them that we were from Trident Ploughshares and that the submarine is illegal, but they seemed to be more keen on having a break than to discuss legal matters with us! So they went to a nearby building. After another couple of minutes security staff turned up and showed us the way to the office just next to the sub. The walls in there were covered with electrical diagrams of the missile system and other things I didn't understand. The staff offered us tea and coffee and we were chatting for a while until the police turned up and arrested us at 11.55.

No one saw us getting in, but the police confiscated our two pairs of boltcutters and "Nuclear Weapons for Beginners" (a guide written in Belgium) as evidence

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