MoD blunders over Faslane cost millions: Rifkind denies that support facility for missile-firing submarine fleet is a 'white elephant'

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The Independent Online
THE OPENING yesterday of the Faslane base for the Trident submarine fleet concealed the history of blunders and bad management by the Ministry of Defence which poured millions into the waters of Gare Loch in Strathclyde, writes Colin Brown.

The House of Commons Select Committee on Defence found that more than pounds 20m could have been saved if the MoD had used a man in a humble rowing boat to test the speed of the current in the loch. The committee, then chaired by Michael Mates, a Tory backbench MP, discovered that the MoD had to abandon a pounds 65m contract to build a dry dock in the middle of the loch, because it was found that the current was stronger than expected.

Mr Mates, who later became a Northern Ireland minister and resigned over the Asil Nadir affair, told one senior civil servant that any small boat sailor could have found out the current was too strong.

Before halting work on the dock more than pounds 20m had been spent, and the contractor had to be compensated. The committee was also astonished when it discovered that about pounds 200m had been spent on consultants' fees for other parts of the Faslane complex. The shore work took up 12 per cent of the total cost of the Trident project. 'Designs change as fast as the documentation, modelling and analysis on the previous design is produced,' it complained.

(Photograph omitted)