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[casi] Nuclear sub runs aground on Skye

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            Nuclear sub runs aground on Skye

            Jeanette Oldham and Liam McDougall

            A NUCLEAR submarine has run aground while taking part in a military exercise off Skye.

            The Ministry of Defence was last night trying to find out how the vessel, one of the 
navy’s 12 nuclear-powered attack subs, managed to hit a rock while on a military exercise.

            The MoD would not say last night if the captain of the submarine would face a court 

            HMS Trafalgar usually carries Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles and it is believed 
it will be used in any invasion of Iraq.

            The MoD said two crew members on board the submarine sustained injuries at 7:58am 
yesterday, when it hit a rock, Fladda-Chauina, 500 metres off the north-west coast of Skye. At the 
time, the vessel was travelling at 14.5 knots (18 mph).

            An MoD spokeswoman said: "There is no damage to the pressure hull and a core integrity 
assessment of the nuclear reactor has been conducted.

            "There is no risk to the public or crew."

            The submarine was taking part in a training exercise and surfaced immediately after the 

            One of the crewmen suffered a broken nose and the other strained his back.

            HMS Trafalgar, which was commissioned in 1983, was due to arrive at Faslane naval base 
on the Clyde today , where the damage will be assessed fully. The 4,750-ton submarine was last 
night travelling under her own power, but was being escorted by a Royal Navy warship.

            The military exercise involved between 20 and 30 vessels, including submarines and 
frigates, as well as aircraft. Such exercises take place beside the busy shipping lanes of the west 
coast of Scotland between Cape Wrath and Skye about two or three times a year.

            Charles Kennedy, the local MP and the Liberal Democrat leader, said in a statement: 
"The first reaction to this news must be one of relief that no hull breach or damage to the nuclear 
reactor has occurred and no lives have been lost.

            "But when a nuclear submarine is involved in an incident of this nature, with the 
potential for disastrous consequences, it is essential that a full investigation is undertaken, the 
conclusions of which must be made public."

            Bernard Jenkin, the shadow defence secretary, said: "Accidents happen but we have 
precious few of these submarines - where is the spare capacity to stand in when such vessels are 
put out of action?

            "The government is unprepared for the unexpected, and the armed forces are already 
overstretched as it is."

            Jane Tallants, the vice-chairwoman of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament 
(CND), said: "It is very worrying that these submarines, which are supposedly precision machines, 
couldn’t miss something the size of Skye."

            Carol Naughton, the chairwoman of CND, said: "We are calling for an independent 
assessment of this accident.

            "We are sceptical of immediate reassurances from the Royal Navy following the case of 
HMS Tireless, which went to port in Gibraltar two years ago and subsequently was discovered to have 
had a reactor fault."

            The discovery of a "design fault" led to the entire hunter-killer fleet being called 
back into port, claimed a spokesman for CND.

            "Our question is this: has this incident been caused by another design fault? If so, 
will all hunter-killers be called back into port?"

            A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive would only say last night: "Defence matters 
are reserved.

            "A full investigation is being carried out by the Ministry of Defence. Scottish 
ministers will be kept fully informed."

Di  McDonald
Nuclear Information Service (NIS)
Westwood House
30 Westwood Road
Southampton SO17 1DN
Tel/Fax: +44 (0)23 80554434

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