Nuclear Submarines: Fires

Defence written question – answered at on 3 July 2012.

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Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what fires have taken place on UK (a) nuclear-powered and (b) nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed submarines since 1 January 1987.

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

Due to the nature of submarine operations, meticulous records are kept of all fire safety incidents, irrespective of how minor. Incidents recorded in the 25 years since 1 January 1987 are as follows:

243 small scale fires that were categorised as a localised fire, such as a minor electrical fault creating smoke, dealt with quickly and effectively using minimal onboard resources. 67 of these were on ballistic missile submarines.

20 medium scale fires that were generally categorised as a localised fire, such as a failure of mechanical equipment creating smoke and flame, requiring use of significant onboard resources. Six of these were on ballistic missile submarines.

In addition, three fires occurred while the submarines involved were in naval bases, requiring both ship and external resources. One of these was on a ballistic missile submarine.

Information on whether ballistic missile submarines were armed with nuclear weapons when the fires occurred is not held in the format requested.

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