Monday, 18 May 2015

Hero or criminal or both, you decide

Able Seaman William McNeilly, late of Her Majesty's Royal Navy, the Continuously At Sea Nuclear Deterrent (CASD) specifically, has blown the lid on our nuclear secrets. In an 18 page document which can be read here he has listed an awfully long litany of problems with our ballistic submarine fleet.

It seems there are unreported accidents, subs leaving for patrol with more people on board than expected, dissemination of Top Secret information to all and sundry including leaving classified books open on your bunk and not bothering to clear the room of unvetted people before having a classified briefing. There are fires, chemical leaks and inflammable waste propped up against electrical wiring. Water pours continuously out of light fittings and it is shrugged off. The fresh water makers don't work, and subs run out of food while at sea.

On a number of occasions the Navy base at Faslane has come close to launching nuclear missiles into the surrounding Scottish countryside. (The SNP are going to have a field day with this. They don't like nukes at the best of times. Now they know how close they have come to actually being nuked they are likely to go ballistic themselves.)

Waving any green piece of card will get you on board a nuclear sub in the first place, especially if it's raining because guards don't want to come out of their huts.

Morale is low, and equipment is mainly broken. Often the sub at sea cannot open its missile hatches, let alone actually launch any sort of weapon. When the Captain inspects, the crew concentrate on making things shiny, not functional. When a politician comes on board junior ratings are told to make themselves scarce so they won't tell the VIP what is actually going on.

McNeilly seems to have made it his business to discover all the security flaws in the system and to have worked extra hard to get onto a nuclear sub just so he could discover more and better instances of shoddy practice. Now he thinks the Prime Minister will personally thank him for putting the world to rights. That won't happen. The PM will avoid him like the plague, and the Navy will probably court martial him.

As McNeilly first tried to report his concerns up the chain of command he qualifies, morally at least, as a genuine whistle-blower. He should not be disciplined, he has performed a public service, but he will be prosecuted. Officialdom can never resist the urge to use official secrecy to conceal their mistakes.

1 comment:

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