Trident is the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent, introduced on four Vanguard-class submarines, and was the replacement for Polaris missile system in the 1980s; under Margaret Thatcher’s government.
It officially came into use in the 1990s, and was up for renewal this year, to which, on the 18th of July 2016, the House of Commons voted by a large majority to proceed to build a fleet of Dreadnought-class submarines, to be fully-operational by 2028, with the Vanguard-class to be phased out in 2032; therefore renewing the Trident systems until the 2060s.
This, of course, seemed normal on the surface of things. Trident had to be renewed and it was. However, the Sunday Times reveals that:
“a[n unarmed] Trident II D5 missile — which can kill millions when armed with nuclear warheads — experienced an alarming failure after being launched from a British submarine off the coast of Florida in June last year.”
The article details that the unarmed missile was intended to be fired 5,600 miles from the coast of Florida to a sea target off the west coast of Aftica, but veered toward the United States instead.
The article also goes into great detail to explain the role of Downing Street in covering up this event – which occured only weeks before the Trident renewal vote. In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Theresa May avoided the question upon four occasions, and insitied she had “absolute faith” in the nuclear weapons system. A dangerous Oversight“>oversight, it seems.
Both the SNP leader – Nicola Sturgeon – and the leader of the Labour party – Jeremy Corbyn – have denounced the cover-up, and have both stated the need to reveal all knowledge about the event, which wasn’t publicised at all, with Corbyn stating on Sky News:
“It’s a pretty catastrophic error when a missile goes in the wrong direction, and while it wasn’t armed, goodness knows what the consequences of that could have been.”
It was revealed earlier by Downing Street that Theresa May – upon becoming Prime Minister – was alerted to a Trident test on the HMS Vengeance. This still isn’t good enough; it isn’t a clear explanation of what occured. Reports showcase that it was a “misfire” and the government have done little to deny this, nor to acknowledge these events, which could’ve affected the outcome of the renewal vote if they were revealed when they occured; before the vote.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon will address MPs regarding this at 15:30 GMT, witha statement already released which says that the HMS Vengeance and its crew were “successfully tested” – seemingly without failure. Only time will tell if this information will be revealed – and what the consequences will be if the Trident system is indeed flawed.