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Questions over submarine incident

Vanguard submarines carry Britain's Trident missiles

Questions continue to be asked about an incident in the North Channel in which a Royal Navy submarine and a ferry from Cairnryan came into close contact. The incident took place in November 2017, but MSP Emma Harper is still pressing the Ministry of Defence over the issue. Miss Harper says that despite the incident taking place on November 6, 2017, it only became public knowledge in early 2019 following the announcement that an investigation into what happened would be carried out by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch. In March 2019, Miss Harper wrote to the then Secretary of State for Defence to seek clarification and to ask to be kept up to date with the progress of the investigation. Miss Harper also raised the incident at First Minister's Questions in Holyrood. Miss Harper received an initial response from the UK Government stating that the ferry involved was confirmed to the Stena Superfast VII, which has a capacity of 1,300 passengers and a combined capacity of 650 cars and lorries. The UK Government refused to release any further information as the investigation 'was currently ongoing'. To date, despite numerous requests for updates, Miss Harper has received no updates on the progress of the investigation and has therefore called on the UK Secretary of State for Defence to meet with her to provide an update on the investigation which, she says, "could potentially have risked the lives of constituents and those traveling on the Stena vessel." Commenting, Miss Harper said: "There have been 789 nuclear safety events at the Faslane and Coulport nuclear bases since 2006, and in 2019 we found out that a nuclear-powered submarine - yet to be confirmed if it was carrying nuclear weapons - was involved in a near miss with a passenger ferry travelling from Dumfries and Galloway to Belfast. "The news of this incident was, and indeed still is, deeply, deeply worrying and I am extremely interested to learn exactly what happened and how close this nuclear submarine was to colliding with the ferry. The consequences of such a collision could have been extremely serious and so I wrote to the then Secretary of State for Defence on this matter and I raised this with the Scottish Government to ask if they have been briefed by the UK Government at any stage regarding this incident – to date they haven't. “Neither the UK Government nor the Marine Accident Investigations Board have responded to my numerous requests for information and I am therefore escalating the situation to the new Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to request a meeting so I can find out the detail of what happened when this nuclear submarine came into close contact with a passenger ship. My constituents deserve to know what happened, and deserve reassurances that steps are being put in place to ensure such an incident is not repeated in future. "The UK's Trident nuclear deterrent has no place in Scotland and incidents such as these only reaffirms the need to get rid of these grossly expensive and utterly useless submarines from our waters."

<< back Published: 11 May 2020, 11:43

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