from the Daily Record, 22 September 2014
New figures reveal that more than one in ten posts are vacant across the UK’s entire reactor-driven submarine fleet. This includes three of the Vanguard boats that carry Trident nuclear warheads, plus six other Astute and Trafalgar class submarines.
Shortages of suitably qualified staff have repeatedly been highlighted as a significant safety concern by the MoD’s internal nuclear safety regulator. But according to Fred Dawson, a radiation safety expert with the MoD for 31 years, “little if any progress has been made by MoD management in addressing the issue.”
He said: “This shows that the MoD is unwilling to pay enough to attract and retain staff in these safety critical posts. Cost savings are being put ahead of safety, and in doing so the MoD is putting both its own staff and the public at risk.”
Nuclear submarines, which pack people, high explosives and nuclear reactors into confined spaces, rely on a range of skilled staff for their safe operation. They can remain at sea for months on end carrying out sensitive and difficult military operations, often incommunicado.