Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

Trident Computers Go Overboard In Loch Goil

Trident Ploughshares activists acquitted after causing criminal damage at Faslane naval base

1st September 1999 / Squall Download 2, Dec-1999/Jan-2000, pp. 16-17.

Establishing an extraordinary legal precedent, three Trident Ploughshares activists were recently acquitted by Greenock Sheriff's Court of causing criminal damage to a laboratory at Faslane nuclear naval base. After a four and half week trial, the Sheriff ruled that the three women had been justified in dismantling the laboratory after arguing that Britain's nuclear arsenal was illegal under International law.

Writing whilst on remand at Cornton Vale Prison, Ellen Moxley, tells the story of how the three women, calling themselves the Pheasant's Union, lobbed the contents of the Faslane laboratory into Loch Goil and hung around waiting to be arrested.

......Over eight months in the planning, the Pheasants' Union action finally took place on June 8th [2000] in brilliant weather on Loch Goil.

Ellen Moxley, Ulla Roder and Angie Zelter were really nervous. During the previous two reconnoitres, there had been a lot of police boat/car presence; our small battery operated angle grinder had died; the unreliable inflatable dinghy had a dicey engine. Yet it turned into the perfect action. Ulla was at the spot 4 hours before the start time and phoned with the message: "Beautiful weather." Then the boat, Angie and Ellen arrived in a rented van.

We launched on time (7p.m.), and in spite of some heart-stopping moments with the engine, soon arrived at "Maytime" - the large floating laboratory complex which tests the sonar signals from Trident. We know now that the Chinese Defence Department can track Trident's movements through geo-magnetic fluctuations and the laboratory on Maytime is more essential than ever to Trident's operation.

We had tools with us to open padlocks but fortunately we didn't have to use them for that. One window into the laboratory was able to be unbolted and in a flash Angie squeezed through. Ellen and Ulla hung a huge black banner, saying: "TP 2000: STOP NUCLEAR DEATH RESEARCH/D.E.R.A.= DEADLY EFFICIENT RESEARCH FOR ANNIHILATION".

Helen Steven's beautiful banner had rainbow people pushing Trident into the sunlight and said: "BRINGING CRIME INTO THE LIGHT".


Angie and Ulla handed Ellen load after load of computers, printers, monitors, fax machines, telephones, computer disks, papers, manuals etc.

Everything went overboard into the drink! Inside the laboratory there was an almost impenetrable cage which housed the mechanism for the model submarine which is used for many of the tests. Angie cut her way in and destroyed (by cutting the electric wires and hammering the circuit boards) the three control panels for the winch and model submarine. Ulla found a sign saying "MOD No Mooring, No Boarding" and propped it up beside the cage! We carefully cleaned up the lot, arranged on the table our police statement, video, Tridenting - it handbook and several photos of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the victims - a good finale to our housework.

Having exhausted the possibilities in the laboratory, we three went up on top of the barge and tried getting into the control room for the vessel. It was protected by hardened perspex/glass. We tried glass cutter, hammer and cold chisels, and a drill with several bits and almost got through. Above the control room we cut the aerial antenna and superglued/liquid-metalled the moving parts of an outside winch. We then settled down for a picnic.

"Newt", a moveable platform , was a few hundred yards away and we thought we might inspect that with a life-raft (as our own boat was now beyond use and we had untied it in the hope it might wash ashore and be retrieved by our supporters). We let down one life-raft which opened in a spectacular manner. We were unsure whether it was right side up, or if it had paddles inside. So we released the second one which fell into the water, its capsule still intact. By this time 3 hours had gone by and the internal radio started hailing us. We did not want to be caught ineptly trying to control a life-raft halfway to Newt so we agreed to be satisfied with the disarmament work already accomplished. It was an excellent time to have done this work, for the laboratory was between experiments. Before damage was done to any component we made sure the power was off.

When the police arrived they were friendly, having had previous experience talking to TP 2000 people.Throwing out these components felt to Ellen as if she were getting rid of the building blocks of oppression: Trident; the "free " market; the exploitation of children; unbridled militarism; the all-prevailing violence of society; third world debt. This was an amazingly liberating experience. The fact that we three are now on remand for 110 days and will face a protracted trial, we hope with a jury, is a small price to pay for having actually disarmed a Trident-related facility.

We send our best wishes to all our fellow pledgers and look forward to reading of their experiences disarming Trident. Together we can change the system!

Related Articles
TP Three Go Scot Free - Ploughshares women force another extraordinary court precedent - Squall Download 2, Dec-1999/Jan-2000
Strident Against Trident - no group has done more to highlight current issues surrounding nuclear arsenals than the stridently active Trident Ploughshares - 2000
Disarming Women - The four ploughshares women recently acquitted for breaking the nose-cone of a Hawk jet fighter were but the tip of a growing movement. Neil Goodwin reviews its history and the implications of the acquittal. Squall 14, Autumn 1996.

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