MoD criticised for keeping obsolete nuclear subs

Published on: 29 Apr 2019

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been criticised for failing to dispose of some of its obsolete nuclear-powered submarines, despite some of them being out of action for nearly 30 years.

According to the National Audit Office (NAO), none of the 20 boats decommissioned since 1980 have been dismantled, even though the MoD made a commitment to the government to do so.

The submarines are being stored at military sites in Devonport and Rosyth, with nine still containing irradiated fuel. The NAO has warned the government this could threaten the UK's reputation as a responsible nuclear power.

It is estimated that the MoD has spent around £500 million on storing and maintaining these retired vessels and has not defueled any since 2004. The body has said it aims to roll out its disposal process by 2026, though no clear plan has been put forward as to how this will be carried out.

As of this month, the Royal Navy will pass on responsibility for all disposal-related projects to the Defence Nuclear Organisation.

"We remain committed to the safe, secure and cost-effective defueling and dismantling of all decommissioned nuclear submarines as soon as practically possible," an MoD spokesperson said.