The new Sunday night BBC serial set on board HMS Vigil, a royal navy Trident missile-carrying submarine on deterrent patrol, is deservedly getting good credits for its unusual setting and Line of Duty plot. As a former submariner myself, there are some cringeworthy, unrealistic onboard aspects featured in Vigil – I just wish we had had as much working space as the crew appears to have – but it is a drama, not a documentary.
However, there are significant fault lines in the overall scenario. Firstly, the UK Trident missile system, in the absence of any threats, has been at several days notice to fire – not 15 minutes – since the 1990s. Secondly, whether in UK territorial waters or not, the “on patrol” submarine will neither send signals nor surface for any reason whatsoever unless and until relieved by another submarine. Notwithstanding which, I am sure I will very much enjoy the twists and turns of the forthcoming plot.
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