Submariner on run after he says 'Trident's unsafe': Fugitive claims security lapses put UK on brink of nuclear disaster
- Sailor William McNeilly claimed Britain is on verge of 'nuclear catastrophe'
- Navy seaman, 25, said security checks are ignored on Trident submarines
- Mr McNeilly, missing since April, said nuclear subs were a terror target
- Royal Navy denies 'unsubstantiated personal views' of a junior sailor
Able Seaman William McNeilly, 25, claimed
Britain's Trident nuclear submarines are 'a disaster
waiting to happen'
A Royal Navy submariner was on the run last night after claiming Britain is on the brink of a nuclear disaster because of dangerous safety and security lapses with Trident.
The police and the Navy are searching for seaman William McNeilly after he published an 18-page dossier claiming the submarine programme is a ‘disaster waiting to happen’.
The whistleblower claimed the missiles on the vessels were vulnerable to a terrorist attack that would ‘kill our people and destroy our land’.
He then fled after saying he feared he could ‘lose everything’ for divulging secrets.
Mr McNeilly, who works as a nuclear weapons engineer, said infiltrators had ‘the perfect opportunity to send nuclear warheads crashing down on the UK’.
The 25-year-old, originally from Newtownabbey, County Antrim, was on leave when he published the dossier, titled The Nuclear Secrets, online last Tuesday.
He failed to return to his base at Faslane, Scotland, last week and has been missing ever since. In his online post, he said he joined the Navy in July 2013 and arrived at Faslane a year ago.
After six months of training, he went on patrol from January to last month on HMS Victorious, one of four Vanguard-class submarines forming the UK’s nuclear deterrent force.
In his post he wrote that to lift the lid on Trident he has ‘sacrificed everything: a good career, a chance to be a millionaire by selling the information, my life savings, my freedom, quality time with family and friends, possibly my life’. He expected to be arrested as a result.
At the start of the report, he asked: ‘Do you have any idea how close you are to a nuclear disaster every single minute?’
His report alleged 30 safety and security flaws on Trident submarines, based at Faslane on the Clyde.
He claimed there were fire risks and leaks on board and that security checks were rarely carried out on personnel and contractors working on the submarines when they are docked at the base. He alleged that alarms had been muted because they went off so often, missile safety procedures had been ignored and top secret information left unguarded.
Mr McNeilly said there was a ‘massive cover-up’ of what happened when HMS Vanguard collided with the French nuclear submarine, Le Triomphant, in the Atlantic in February 2009.
He quoted a senior officer who was on Vanguard at the time as saying: ‘We thought, this is it, we’re all going to die.’
The sailor posted his ID card alongside his claims, which have triggered a Royal Navy investigation
Yesterday the Royal Navy said it was concerned for Mr McNeilly’s ‘whereabouts and wellbeing’.
It is working closely with police to locate him. A spokesman added: ‘The Royal Navy takes security and nuclear safety extremely seriously and we are fully investigating both the issue of the unauthorised release of this document and its contents. The naval service operates its submarine fleet under the most stringent safety regime and submarines do not go to sea unless they are completely safe to do so.’
The spokesman said the document contained a number of ‘subjective and unsubstantiated personal views’, made by a ‘very junior sailor’, with whom the Navy ‘completely disagrees’.
John Large, an independent nuclear submarine expert, said Mr McNeilly appeared credible, but added: ‘Even if he is right about the disorganisation, lack of morale and sheer foolhardiness of the personnel around him – and the unreliability of the engineered systems – it is likely the Trident system as a whole will tolerate the misdemeanours, as it is designed to do.’
The SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson yesterday demanded action to rectify any failings. He added: ‘Failure to follow safety procedures is unacceptable in any workplace but on a Trident submarine it could result in extreme tragedy, not just for those on board but the entire planet.’
WORDS OF WARNING IN CHILLING DOSSIER
In his report, seaman William McNeilly wrote: ‘It is just a matter of time before we’re infiltrated by a psychopath or terrorist.
‘There were some people that I served with on that patrol who showed clear psychopathic tendencies.
‘This is bigger than me, it’s bigger than all of us.
‘We are so close to a nuclear disaster it is shocking, and yet everybody is accepting the risk to the public. If we don’t act now lives could be lost for generations.’
Mr McNeilly said he had raised concerns with senior officers but decided to publish his claims as they were ignored.
He added: ‘After rising from the depths I knew I had gained enough information to eliminate the biggest threat that the UK faces.
‘The decision to release this information was the easiest yet most painful decision of my life.
‘If I die it wasn’t suicide. I’m willing to sacrifice everything, but I would never use my own hand to take my life.
‘If I’m killed and this report is made public, there will be a high chance of a violent revolution.’