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     Scottish CND      Magazine


Vigilant at Coulport

The third Trident submarine, HMS Vigilant, test fired two missiles near Florida in October, then loaded up with 14 missiles at Kings Bay in Georgia. It returned to Coulport and spent two weeks loading nuclear warheads onto the missiles. The photo shows the submarine leaving Coulport fully armed. The Helensburgh Advertiser reported that Vigilant became operational on 5th December.

For most of the last 5 years there have been two operational nuclear armed submarines. This has now increased to three. They are each carrying 14 missiles. Each submarine can carry a total of up to 96 nuclear warheads. HMS Vanguard was on patrol in December and was replaced by HMS Victorious from January onwards. HMS Vigilant is expected to go on its first patrol in late February or early March.

The fourth Trident submarine, HMS Vengeance, is due to be rolled out from the construction yard at Barrow this summer and will be scheduled to arrive in Scotland towards the end of 1998.

Throughout last year more nuclear warheads were brought to Scotland. On 2nd November a convoy travelled up on the M74 then via Stirling. It had a massive police and military escort as it travelled through Dumbartonshire. Despite this it was stopped when it was going slowly up a hill in the village of Rhu on the shores of Gareloch. One camper from Faslane Peace Camp climbed onto the roof of a nuclear weapons transporter. Two others locked themselves underneath two different transporters. After a 20 minute delay the convoy moved off again. There was a second protest at Whistlefield, near Coulport, and they were stopped again.

From 31st March 1998 the old WE-177 nuclear bombs based in East Anglia will be removed from service. But this is not really a cause for celebration. It means that from that day on all British nuclear weapons will be based in Scotland.

Scottish CND      Magazine