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     Scottish CND      Magazine

LAUNCH OF HMS VENGEANCE

launch

Two minibuses set off from Glasgow on Friday night, full of disgruntled people angry at the launch of yet another Trident nuclear submarine “Vengeance” (Vengeance for what ?) There are already 3 other subs in the monster collection - Vanguard, Victorious and Vigilant. Each carries 48 Trident warheads and each warhead is eight times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. Who wants to celebrate the launch of a killing machine like that ? Us lot from Scotland certainly don’t, especially with all Trident subs stationed at Faslane, leaking radioactivity and posing a very real danger of a nuclear accident, or worse still, nuclear war with Scotland as a prime target !

Anyway, conveniently the launch of Vengeance coincided with the British CND conference in Manchester, which meant that 300 folk came up to Barrow to join in with the protest. Everyone’s spirits were high following a great gig in Barrow the night before, with stars from New Model Army and a bizarre drumming/brass/gamalan band doing their bestest ! Later on the same night, seven brave peacecampers from Faslane went under cover of darkness to try and get to Vengeance before it was launched and surprise all the bigwigs at the ceremony the next day. One person got very close to the sub in the huge shed where the monster lay, but unfortunately all seven of them were found and detained by the police until late the following evening.

The morning of the launch was sunny and bright and people flocked to the bridge above the dock where Vengeance would be “launched”. (Actually trundled out of the shed on rollers) We’d been told that lots of Barrow folk would be there waving union jacks etc but they seemed few, outnumbered by the many colourful Peace banners and CND flags from all over the country. (It’s tragic that the only industry employing people in Barrow is building these evil death machines, and sad that it is all the town has to be proud of)

Eventually the massive doors on the hangar edged open and we saw the front of the submarine decorated with a naval flag as it inched out on the rollers. Huge, black and sinister, it cost £1 billion and could destroy the world umpteen times over ! At this point the drumming and shouting reached a crescendo with lots of whistles blown, saucepan lids banged and fog horns sounded to show our disapproval. Apparently the racket on the bridge was drowning out the speeches going on at the official ceremony, where the wife of George Robertson (the defence minister) was performing the launch (definitely bad karma !) Down at the gates a “citizens inspection” of the dockyard was going on, but as usual the citizens were denied access to inspect the nuclear weapons, ruled illegal in July 1996 by the International Court of Justice. HMS Vengeance is in the water in the dock at Barrow and will be arriving in Scotland in the first part of 1999 where it will be getting a very big and unwelcoming reception.

Grace Nicol

Scottish CND      Magazine