A Royal Navy submariner who blew the whistle on a catalogue of alleged security failings around the Trident nuclear programme has said he will hand himself in to police.
Able Seaman William McNeilly, 25, a newly qualified engineer, claimed that Britain’s nuclear deterrent was a “disaster waiting to happen” in a report detailing 30 alleged safety and security breaches, including a collision between HMS Vanguard and a French submarine during which a senior officer thought: “We’re all going to die.”
McNeilly wrote that a chronic shortage of personnel meant that it was “a matter of time before we’re infiltrated by a psychopath or a terrorist; with this amount of people getting pushed through”.
The police and the navy launched a hunt for McNeilly after he failed to report back for work last week at the Faslane submarine base on the Clyde. But on Monday morning he said he would hand himself over to the authorities despite facing a possible prosecution under the Official Secrets Act 1989.
Angus Robertson, the Scottish National party leader in Westminster, described the claims as extremely concerning and said the allegations add weight to calls to scrap Trident altogether.
He said: “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.”
A Royal Navy spokeswoman said on Monday that the service disagreed with McNeilly’s assessment, describing the report as containing “a number of subjective and unsubstantiated personal views”.
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