Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006
HMS Vanguard in dry dock at Devonport
HMS Vanguard in dry dock at Devonport

Nuke Security Sacked

Nuclear sub security firm sacked as cost of nuclear ops boom

27th January 2003

The security company responsible for guarding Britain's primary nuclear submarine base at Plymouth has been sacked after two activists climbed on board a nuclear submarine.

As reported previously on SQUALL, two Trident Ploughshares activists penetrated security around HMS Vanguard last November as it was undergoing a refit at Devonport Nuclear Dockyard.

The subsidiary of the American corporation which now owns and runs the naval base, DML, initially insisted that the breach of security was nothing to worry about. In answer to a parliamentary question, Armed forces minister, Adam Ingram, also played down the security breach with the assertion that that HMS Vanguard had been classified as "non-vital property".

However, the ease with which unequipped peace protestors found their way onto one of the UK's four nuclear powered and nuclear warhead-carrying subs made a laughing stock of military security at a time of supposed heightened alert over terrorism.

The government's embarrassment was further compounded when Greenpeace activists strolled into the Sizewell B nuclear power station late last year and weren't discovered for over twenty minutes.

DML has a very chequered history as owner and manager of the UK's primary nuclear submarine base. When the massive contract was tendered by the UK government back in the late eighties, it was widely thought nuclear submarine operations would be granted to a British based company operating the Rosyth naval base on the Clyde in Scotland. However, it was a surprise to many that the contract was awarded to Devonport Management Limited (DML), a subsidiary of the massive US corporation, Halliburton. DML proposed to carry out nuclear operations in the middle of Plymouth, a city with a population of 250,000.

As reported on the SQUALL site, the government's reasoning for this unexpected decision was that DML's tendered bid was the cheapest by £65 million.

In December 2002, however, the National Audit Office criticised DML for continually increasing the costs subsequent to winning the contract. With costs booming from £650m to £933m, British taxpayers have had to cough up an extra £199m to fund the refit of the Vanguard class submarines. The first of these refits began in February 2002 when HMS Vanguard docked at Devonport. It was this vessel which was boarded by activists in November 2002.

A full investigation into the corporate development of Devonport Naval Dockyard can be viewed on the SQUALL Features page

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NUCLEAR NONCHALANCE - Trident Ploughshares activists break into Devon nuclear submarine base - 19-Nov-2002
ALL ABOARD A NUCLEAR SUBMARINE - Trident Ploughshares activists describe how easy it was to climb aboard one of Britain's nuclear warhead-carrying submarines - 15-Nov-2002
SILENT BUT DEADLY - Investigation into nuclear subs, radioactivity and corporate dockyards - 26-April-2001