Investigation ordered after Trident nuclear submarine ‘fixed with superglue’

HMS Vanguard the submarine fixed with super glue

An investigation has been ordered after workers on a Trident submarine seemingly glued broken bolts back together in a nuclear reactor chamber.

According to the The Sun the unsatisfactory repairs to cooling pipes were discovered when a bolt fell off during checks aboard the 16,000-tonne HMS Vanguard.

The paper says that the bolt had originally been sheared off through over-tightening, but instead of reporting the damage and taking the time to bore out the broken shafts, civilian staff at defence contractor Babcock glued the heads back on.

The incident occurred during a dry dock refurbishment and refuelling at HMNB Devonport, Plymouth. The (at least) seven glued bolts hold insulation in place on coolant pipes. Navy sources told The Sun that there were “no nuclear safety issues” and the reactor would not have exploded had the damage not been found.

Repair work on the vessel is reportedly behind schedule by four years and currently £300m over budget.

Former sub captain Cdr Ryan Ramsay also told the paper: “This is a massive trust issue for Babcock and the Royal Navy to resolve.

“It makes you wonder what else has been done poorly.

“Damage like this should’ve been picked up by quality control way before this late-stage inspection.

“The time pressure created by falling way behind programme may have caused this behaviour.”

“As part of a planned inspection, a defect was found from work done when HMS Vanguard was in dry dock,” says a MoD statement.

“It was promptly reported and fixed.

“In light of the issue, the secretary of state spoke with the chief executive officer of Babcock to seek assurances about future work.”

Mechanical issues are nothing new. Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales broke down in August 2022 shortly after departing Portsmouth. The 65,000-tonne warship was headed for the east coast of the United States to conduct landmark F-35 flying trials and experimentation with uncrewed aircraft before the propeller shaft issues arose.

Update: The headline of this story has been updated to remove a reference to £88m. This figure refers to the cost of the refurbishment rather than the submarine.

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3 responses to “Investigation ordered after Trident nuclear submarine ‘fixed with superglue’”

  1. LeeJ says:

    £88 million – really?

  2. Richard Hussey says:

    In my day everything was held together with masking tape.

    There’s progress for you!

  3. Theo says:

    Lekker journalistiek bezig.
    Een Engels stuk door Google translate halen maakt nog geen goede bijdrage.
    De zon=the Sun (de krant)
    HMS Voorhoede=HMS Vigilant (de betreffende boot)
    HMS Prins van Wales=HMS Prince of Wales (vliegdekschip van VK)
    Ga zo door. 😞