Trident whistleblower: chaos, incompetence & near disasters.

Posted: May 17, 2015 by Andrew in Defence

imageA Navy submariner has released details of a nuclear deterrent that, if true, passes from one crisis to another, barely able to leave port, let alone pose a threat to potential enemies.

William McNeilly (Navy engineering technician submariner) has released a document cataloging his experiences training and serving on Britain’s multi billion pound nuclear missile submarine fleet. He lists countless examples of non existent security, fires, floods, equipment failures, fights and a collision. An attitude amongst the crews of lethargy, more akin to the Big Brother household than a fighting force. He describes a number of incidences that could easily have resulted in the loss of submarines and crews.

He explains that the release is the only way he can encourage the Navy to reform, as his efforts within the service, have come to nothing.

First the press release from the Navy:

“The Royal Navy takes security and nuclear safety extremely seriously and we are fully investigating both the issue of the unauthorised release of this document and its contents. The naval service operates its submarine fleet under the most stringent safety regime and submarines do not go to sea unless they are completely safe to do so.”

Background (for release):

· The document contains a number of subjective and unsubstantiated personal views, made by a very junior sailor, with which the Naval Service completely disagrees.
· Whilst it is right that the contents of this document are considered in detail, we can be clear in itself it does not pose any security risk to our personnel or operations.
· We can confirm that AB McNeilly is a member of the naval service.
· The Navy is concerned for the whereabouts and wellbeing of AB McNeilly and is working closely with civilian police to locate him.

Read McNeilly’s report Here


  1. Fanakapan says:

    Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty reform the RN due to pressure from a Rating ?

    Not very likely is it 🙂

  2. I wouldn’t place much credence on the views of a disaffected rating.

  3. oldbrew says:

    BBC report:

    ‘The SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson said the report read as “a nightmare catalogue of serious safety breaches aboard and alongside these nuclear armed submarines” and called for the Ministry of Defence to make public the results of its investigation.’

    BBC News 24 TV gave it about 30 seconds and said the Royal Navy didn’t agree with the report, hardly a surprise.

  4. Roger Gough says:

    He’s only disaffected because seniors who should know better refuse to listen to his concerns. Sound familiar Mr Johnson ?

  5. On the other side of the coin, perhaps senior people did not listen because they knew he was talking rubbish. After all he only completed one patrol so he’s hardly in a position to pass credible judgement on Submarine operations. From reading his piece it appears to me that he joined with a political agenda to discredit Trident and was determined to be in places that he maybe shouldn’t have been in from day 1. He also makes wildly inaccurate claims regarding matters like “60M diving depth” for the Vanguard boats. So, I for one would not place much credence on his claims, but then I’m as inconsequential as he is in the great scheme of things.

  6. Bloke down the pub says:

    In another RN story doing the rounds, an outbreak of norovirus at HMS Raleigh training base has left 70 people ill.
    A Royal Navy spokesman said control measures included “intense cleaning and isolating those with symptoms”.
    Once upon a time, intense cleaning would have been an everyday part of naval training.

  7. They made a pretty spiral.

  8. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    He is against nuclear weapons as a deterrent. Why would anyone with his views work on a nuclear sub?

  9. tallbloke says:

    Karen G: We can contract out Catherine wheels to the Chinese for a lot less…

  10. Fanakapan says:

    Trident seems to be relatively good value, and given Britain’s inability to produce Missiles of that ilk, it really is Hobsons choice. Unless of course we wish to go Naked into the Conference Chamber.

    Just as long as the Yanks dont decide to cancel the refurbishment program, then we’d have another Skybolt.

  11. Anoneumouse says:

    Check out his or family links to the SNP!!!???

  12. oldbrew says:

    BBC: ‘Submariner who attacked Trident safety to hand himself in’

    McNeilly: “You don’t have to be Alexander the Great to see the lack of strategy in keeping these systems, that are tremendously destructive and extremely open to attack, on our homeland. “

  13. oldbrew says:

    ‘McNeilly went on to describe how HMS Vanguard’s missile compartment doubled up as a gym, leading to potentially disastrous mishaps when seamen dropped weights near the boat’s missile firing system.’ – Guardian link above


  14. oldbrew says:

    In 2013 there was a fatal shooting and claims of binge drinking on HMS Astute:

    ‘Detectives concluded that Donovan had drunk 20 pints of cider and lager, cocktails and double vodkas in the 48 hours before he was put on a guard duty with a gun, but that his drink intake was not out of the ordinary among the crew.’

    Trident had another embarrassment in 2012 when it ran aground off the coast of Scotland.

    Its performance was later questioned:
    ‘£1.5bn submarine compared to Morris Minor as whistleblower reveals serious faults with pride of Royal Navy’

    ‘THE Royal Navy’s latest class of hunter-killer submarines has been likened to having a “V8 engine with a Morris Minor gearbox”.’

    ‘While the Morris may not be capable of devastating cities from miles away, it did enjoy reasonable fuel efficiency for the day.’

    Morris Minor: Statistics

    Acceleration: 0 to 60mph in 22.2s
    Performance in wet: Reliable
    Missiles: None

    Astute class: Statistics

    Acceleration: Like blue whale with hangover
    Performance in wet: Leaky
    Missiles: Tomahawk Cruise
    Morris Minor
    Morris Minor [credit:Daily Record]

  15. Fanakapan says:

    oldbrew, you seem to be overlooking the recruiting pool that the services have available to them.

    Whilst I’d imagine that the RN chooses its submariners from the best it has available, it still remains the case that its pool is in sociological terms, rather shallow. Even taking into account that the RN these days can afford to be far more choosy that the other 2, its still going to have a hard time convincing the mass that service within its ranks is worthwhile in either a monetary or life progress sense.

    Given these bare facts, I think you may be expecting a little too much ?

  16. oldbrew says:

    I don’t expect them to crash the sub, be drunk on duty or fire guns on board. Is that too much to ask?

  17. Fanakapan says:

    oldbrew, in a word, Yes 😦

    Since Blair got Blighty involved in a couple of conflicts that were unpopular with the electorate, there has been an active effort to portray the services in a way that Tommy of Barrack Room Ballads fame would be familiar with.

    It may have raised public expectations a little ? But I’m sure that at day end the RN are more than capable of avoiding the sight of a mushroom cloud off Lands End.

    It might even be the case that other professions that have the potential for catastrophe if things go wrong, would if the insiders gaze were visible to the public, raise more than a few hairs 🙂

  18. oldbrew says:

    ‘Trident whistleblower William McNeilly hands himself in to police’

    ‘William McNeilly, 25, is now being held at a secure military base in Scotland, according to authorities.’

  19. Russ Wood says:

    Re Fanakapan’s comment about ‘another Skybolt’ – I was an apprentice in Avro flight test when the Skybolt was being tested for dropping from a Vulcan bomber. In my ‘idle’ time I was reading reports, and was amused by reading a report on a ‘partial success’. It turned out that the missile actually fell off the aircraft, thus proving that it COULD be dropped…