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Shortage of key staff undermines safety of Trident

The safety of Trident has been undermined because the Ministry of Defence (MoD) do not have enough qualified and experienced nuclear workers. Across the civilian and military workforce around one in ten of these key positions are vacant. The MoD's own nuclear regulator has described this as the principle threat to the safety of the Defence Nuclear Programme.

Writing in the Sunday Herald, the environmental journalist Rob Edwards says this shortage of key engineers "could threaten the safety of nuclear weapons and submarines on the Clyde". SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson MP said "This is extremely dangerous and unsustainable and lays bare the reality of the risks of the shambolic MoD cuts agenda". Nuclear engineer John Large added that "The nuclear safety implications arising from this could be onerous".


John Ainslie, Scottish CND Coordinator, said:

"If the plumbing in your house needs repaired then you should employ a suitably qualified plumber. You would expect that this principle would apply to nuclear submarines and nuclear weapons, but apparently not. The MoD have a one-in-ten  shortfall in key staff. Yet they are ignoring this and continuing at full speed with their plans to replace Trident and to increase the number of nuclear submarines based in Scotland".

Despite knowing about this problem for several years, the MoD have been unable to reduce the shortfall.





Number of vacancies




Percentage of posts vacant




The full figures were revealed in a written reply to a question in the House of Commons from Angus Robertson.

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