On Friday an unmarked convoy of large dark green trucks and vans surrounded by police vehicles was spotted on the highway near Glasgow, Scotland. The convoy was reportedly carrying nuclear warheads for Britain’s Trident submarine launched ballistic missile force by road from Atomic Weapons Establishment Burghfield near Reading to Coulport.
British anti-nuclear activist group Nukewatch UK tweeted about it, complaining that it could be a serious danger if involved in a road accident.
— Nukewatch (@NukewatchUK) March 8, 2021
Nuke bombs on M40 today going from AWE Burghfield nr Reading to the Trident base on the Clyde. Risks to the communities they pass, risk of spreading covid AND if these WMD are ever used would mean huge loss of life and destruction of the environment. Essential? NO!! #nuclearban pic.twitter.com/EDhKKpAl90
— Nukewatch (@NukewatchUK) March 4, 2021
Glasgow Live further reported that:
The convoy of at least six vehicles and ‘numerous police’ was spotted by a member of the public … on its way to RNAD Coulport … the storage and loading facility for the nuclear warheads of the United Kingdom’s Trident programme.
Royal Naval Armaments Depot Coulport, shortened to RNAD Coulport, on Loch Long in Argyll, Scotland, is the storage and loading facility for the nuclear warheads of Britain’s Trident missile force.
According to the British Ministry of Defense (MOD), the UK’s deterrent force consists of four ballistic missile submarines – or Ships Submersible Ballistic Nuclear (SSBNs): HMS VANGUARD, VICTORIOUS, VIGILANT and VENGEANCE. These submarines can carry up to 48 warheads on sixteen Trident D5 missiles each.
The Trident D5 missiles loaded in UK ballistic missile submarines are randomly selected from a stockpile held at the Trident Refit Facility at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia in the United States. While the warheads themselves are British owned and built, the delivery system is not owned by the UK, which has ownership rights to 58 missiles from a pool shared with the US Navy.
The Trident missiles serviced at the depot are fitted with warheads designed and manufactured in the UK at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Aldermaston. While major work done on the warheads is usually completed at Kings Bay, Georgia, regular maintenance is done at AWE.
The military convoy apparently makes the journey about six times per year when they “take the warheads down to refurbish them and then transport them back up again,” according to Nukewatch UK.
In September, Glasgow Live reported on a similar 26-vehicle military convoy spotted on its way from RNAD Coulport to AWE Burghfield – carrying what was believed to have been six Trident nuclear warheads.
Despite Nukewatch’s stated safety concerns, it is clear that nuclear safety is a top priority for the MOD. GlasgowLive added that these convoys “normally includes huge lead-lined lorries carrying the nuclear warheads, along with a fire engine in case a blaze breaks out, a moving workshop, a decontamination unit, tow truck and scores of MOD police vehicles.”