Defence: Navy nuclear reactors shut down

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Nuclear reactors on Royal Navy vessels have been shut down on 500 occasions in since 1980, the Government disclosed yesterday. The junior defence minister, John Spellar, said the shutdowns had been for "precautionary defect investigations". In a Commons written reply, he said it would be wrong to ascribe them specifically to safety reasons.

"On all occasions following reactor shut down at sea it has been possible to resume reactor operation safely within a few hours."

He told Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker: "Since 1980, all submarines have been able to return safely to harbour under nuclear power."