Abolition 2000 – Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons

Faslane Peace Camp has reported that a nuclear-armed Triomphant class submarine arrived at the Faslane naval base on Thursday 2 August.  This is the first visit by the French equivalent of Trident to Britain.  It comes three years after the collision between Le Triomphant and HMS Vanguard on 3-4 February 2009. Both submarines were underwater at the time of the accident.

John Ainslie, Coordinator of Scottish CND said,

“Scottish CND are opposed to any nuclear weapons at Faslane, whether they are British or French. We also have concerns about the safety of this visit.  The Ministry of Defence cannot carry out a full risk assessment, because they don’t have information on the nuclear missiles or the reactors on Triomphant class submarines.”

Background information

The circumstances which led to the underwater collision between two nuclear-armed submarines in the vast space of the Atlantic ocean are a closely guarded secret. On 30 March 2010 Bob Ainsworth, Defence Minister, said he was withholding all particulars of the collision between HMS Vanguard and FS Le Triomphant on the grounds of national security.  (Hansard 30 March 2010). The initial French report said that Le Triomphant had collided with a shipping container.

On 2 November 2010 David Cameron signed a nuclear research agreement with Nicolas Sarkosy. Under the treaty Britain and France will build a research facility in France, with British equipment. The facility will carry out hydrodynamic tests of mock nuclear warheads. The two countries will not share information on each others nuclear warhead designs.

As part of a study into alternative sites for Trident, in the event of Scottish independence, Scottish CND has investigated the viability of basing the British fleet in France. The French site, Ile Longue, is smaller than Faslane and Coulport and there is not sufficient space to allow for separate British facilities or for the spacing required between buildings handling Trident missiles. The construction of a new British base in France would be even more difficult than building a similar facility in England or Wales. Moving Trident to France would mean that Britain’s “independent” nuclear force would be totally dependent on support from both France and the US, who supply the missiles. Concerns would be raised about whether such a move could comply with the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.

The French submarine was moved slowly under tow from Loch Long into Faslane 11 am and 2.30 pm on Thursday 1 August. The MOD carries out assessments of the risks from British Trident submarines, taking account of their nuclear warheads, missiles and nuclear reactors. However France does not share information on the warheads, missiles and reactors on French submarines.

Photograph http://banthebomb.org/ne/images/stories/images/frenchsubmarine.jpg  (Faslane Peace Camp)

For further information contact:
John Ainslie, Coordinator, Scottish CND 0141 357 1529  or  07788 738887
Faslane Peace Camp  01436 820901  or  07511 93227