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Trident: Ministry of Defence denies reports there were four unreported missile test failures

A dossier produced by William McNeilly, a former Royal Navy submarine weapons engineer, claims there were multiple failures

Wednesday 25 January 2017 20:15 GMT
HMS Vengeance carries the Trident ballistic missile, the UK's nuclear deterrent
HMS Vengeance carries the Trident ballistic missile, the UK's nuclear deterrent (Andrew Linnett/MoD Crown Copyright via Getty Images)

Claims that there were four unreported Trident missile test failures in 2015 have been denied by the Ministry of Defence.

William McNeilly, a former Royal Navy submarine weapons engineer published a dossier in which he said that he had witnessed three failed Missile Compensating Tests and a one Battle Readiness Test over the course of that year.

There were failures during end-of-patrol “shakedown” tests which are designed to determine whether the weapons system is capable of performing a successful launch, his report said.

“The test showed that the missile compensation system wouldn’t have compensated for the changes in weight of the submarine during missile launches," the dossier, which appeared on whistelblowing website WikiLeaks, added.

This meant "the missiles would’ve been launched on an unstable platform, if they decided to launch", it said.

It added that a BRT "was cancelled due to the main hydraulic system containing mostly seawater instead of actual hydraulic oil.”

Mr McNielly, who was discharged from the Navy in June 2015, has accused the government of “endangering the public and spending billions upon billions of taxpayers’ money for a system so broken it can’t even do the tests that prove it works.”

But the MoD spokesperson called his claims were “un-credible” and denied there had been four tests while he was in service.

They said: “McNeilly’s claims, from his brief serving time before being discharged, have proved to be factually incorrect, demonstrate a lack of understanding or drew on historic, previously known, events. We have absolute confidence in the nuclear deterrent.”

The news came shortly after Theresa May faced questions over a Trident misfire last year. Downing Street has been accused of covering up the incident which occurred just a month before a crucial parliamentary vote.

It was reportedly intended to be fired 5,600 miles to a sea target off the west coast of Africa but may have veered off towards America instead.

The US government apparently asked the news of the misfire be swept under the carpet to avoid embarrassment for both sides.

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