UK's own Chernobyl averted: Navy's nuclear-powered super submarine 'Trident' fixed with super glue
The damage was done at HMNB Devonport in Plymouth during a dry dock renovation and refuel. This work, reportedly started in 2015 and is four year behind the schedule and approximately £300 million over budget
London: In a bizarre incident, employees aboard the UK’s most advanced frontline submarine Trident risked the lives of millions of people by allegedly using superglue to fix broken bolts of a nuclear reactor chamber prompting navy chiefs to order an investigation.
The crucial cooling pipes’ shoddy repairs were revealed after one of the bolt fell off during a routine check of the 16,000-ton HMS Vanguard.
Reports reveal that the bolts had broken due to careless overtightening, but civilian staff of the defence contractor Babcock glued the heads back on rather than alerting the damage to the authorities so that the fractured shafts could be repaired correctly.
The staff reportedly informed authorities about a process of work difficulty, or procedural fault, but avoided talking about the bolts and glue.
The incident came to light after a UK newspaper publisged a detailed report on the grave blunder prompting Defence
Secretary Ben Wallace to call for a meeting and set accountability of the officials once and for all.
According to a Navy source, he was enraged that Babcock, one of the largest defence contractors in the UK, kept the Navy in the dark.
It’s a disgrace, they remarked. Nuclear technology forbids cutting corners. “The rules are the rules. Standards in the nuclear industry are never waived,” he said.
The damage was done at HMNB Devonport in Plymouth during a dry dock renovation and refuel. This work, reportedly started in 2015 and is four year behind the schedule and approximately £300 million over budget.
The sailors of the three remaining Trident 2 nuclear missile subs, HMS Vengeance, HMS Victorious, and HMS Vigilance, have had to endure protracted patrols due to persistent delays.
From 2028, the Dreadnought class will take their place and carry the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
The experts said that the seven bolts that were fixed using Superglue were reportedly preventing a Chernobyl type meltdown by holding the insulated coolant pipes.
They were discovered this month, ahead of the engineers’ scheduled first firing of the reactor at maximum power.
Investigators are still combing through data to determine when it occurred and who was to blame. As part of nuclear safety protocols, employees usually work in pairs.
After the incident, the Ministry of Defence in the UK issued a statement saying: “A fault from work done when HMS Vanguard was in dry dock was detected as part of a planned examination.”
It was reported and rectified right away, ministry said while adding that the Secretary of State also engaged with Babcock’s CEO in order to secure reassurance for future works.
Navy sources however claimed there were “no nuclear safety issues and that the reactor would not have exploded if the damage hadn’t been discovered.
“This is a big trust issue for Babcock and the Royal Navy to tackle,” former sub skipper Cdr. Ryan Ramsay stated, adding that It makes one wonder what else has been done poorly.
“The time strain imposed by falling considerably behind schedule may have induced this behaviour,” he said.
Babcock has multi-billion dollar contracts to overhaul at Devonport and maintain the Astute and Vanguard sub fleets
for the Royal Navy at HMNB Clyde in Scotland.
Any quality-related issue is extremely disappointing, however our own thorough inspection procedures found the problem, said Ramsay, adding that There was no safety or operational impact from the work.
Meanwhile, Rolls Royce which manufactures and maintains the reactors asserted that it was indeed a dereliction of duty on Babcock’s part.