British patched up one of their nuclear subs with super glue

LONDON, UK — The submarine, which had been under repair for seven years, found bolts fixed with superglue, which “infuriated” the head of the British Ministry of Defense, The Sun found out. The bolts hold the insulation on the pipes with the liquid cooling the nuclear reactor.

vanguard uk british submarine
Photo credit: Tam McDonald / Wikipedia

The UK Navy will investigate workers repairing Vanguard, one of the country’s four nuclear submarines, reports The Sun, citing sources.

During an inspection on the first of four submarines of the Vanguard class of the same name [Vanguard], they found a fallen-off head of one of the bolts holding the insulation on the pipes with the liquid cooling the nuclear reactor. Upon further inspection, it turned out that the heads of at least seven bolts were sheared off due to too much torque when tightening them, and were glued back on with superglue. Repair of the submarine was carried out at the Devonport naval base in Plymouth.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, according to the interlocutors of the publication, “was furious” and demanded a meeting and “assurances” regarding the quality of future work from one of the department’s largest contractors, Babcock, which is responsible for the repair of Vanguard.

The contractor reported a “procedural failure” due to workflow issues, but did not previously report details such as sheared bolts and superglue, the paper said. The Babcock leadership was unable to explain to the minister how such a mistake was made.

The sheared bolts were discovered before Navy engineers were to run the submarine’s reactor at full power for the first time. Investigators are looking into the records to find out when this happened and who is responsible. Workers on such repairs always work in pairs following nuclear safety protocols, The Sun points out.

In total, the UK has four Vanguard-class nuclear submarines – Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant, and Vengeance, all armed with Trident nuclear ballistic missiles.

The repair of the oldest of them, the Vanguard submarine, launched in 1992 and giving the name to an entire class of submarines, was launched in 2015 at a cost of more than £300 million [more than $370 million]. The repair time for the submarine was exceeded by four years – the boat was returned to service only seven years after the start of repairs, in July 2022.

From 2028, Vanguard-class submarines will be replaced by Dreadnought-class submarines, The Sun points out.


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