The three activists from the international peace organisation For Mother Earth swam into the waters of the Faslane Naval Base, north of Glasgow, triggering a security alert. They were accused of causing "malicious mischief". Their supporters issued a statement claiming that the "seaborne- team" had reached submarine berth 12, "causing panic among the security forces".
In fact there is no berth 12. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said that the protesters had reached only a buffer which forms the outer cordon of the base. They were 100 metres away from the submarine berths.
Nevertheless, the MoD is becoming increasingly exasperated by the protest at Faslane, which began last week and has already led to 81 arrests. A spokeswoman said there was concern that the protest - organised by the umbrella group Trident Ploughshares 2000 - had its own website calling for supporters to bring hammers and other tools. "We fully support anybody's right to protest peacefully but this is open criminal activity," she said.
Last night three other protesters were arrested after trying to breach the perimeter fence. A Dutch woman and two Britons were also arrested for cutting the fence. Last weekend a Swedish priest was arrested as he broke through the perimeter fence wielding his Bible. The protesters say they are committed to their "non-violent disarmament actions" for another week.
The campaign follows an ultimatum issued to Prime Minister Tony Blair to agree by 8 August to dismantle Britain's nuclear deterrent by the end of the century. The MoD feels the protests are unjustified in the wake of the government's commitments in the Strategic Defence Review to reducing Britain's nuclear deterrent and working towards global elimination of nuclear weapons.