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UK government defends nuclear submarine fleet after missile misfire

21st February 2024 - 18:09 GMT | by Damian Kemp in London


A test firing of a Trident missile from a UK Royal Navy Vanguard SSBN in 2012. A similar firing on 30 January 2024 failed. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

The UK Royal Navy’s Vanguard-class of ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) provide the UK with its continuous-at-sea deterrent (CASD) coverage and have done so since 1994. The Vanguards will themselves be replaced by the new Dreadnought-class SSBNs from the 2030s.

A UK Royal Navy test-firing of Trident II D5 ballistic missile on 30 January from HMS Vanguard SSBN experienced “an anomaly”, according to UK secretary of state for defence Grant Shapps, “without wider implications” despite a previous missile firing failure in 2016.

Last month’s test launch was part of a Demonstration and Shakedown Operation which assessed the performance of the submarine and its crew, culminating in an unarmed firing.

“On this occasion, an anomaly did occur, but it was event specific and there are no implications for the reliability of the wider Trident missile systems and stockpiles…nor are there

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Damian Kemp


Damian Kemp

Damian Kemp has worked in the defence media for 25 years covering military aircraft, defence …

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