UK owns 20 outdated toxic nuclear submarines as it can't afford to scrap them

Ministry of Defence chiefs have been slammed for their “dismal” failure to dispose of 20 toxic nuclear submarines, some dating back to the 1980s.

Britain has twice as many subs ready for scrapping as it does on active duty, and seven have been in storage for longer than they were frontline Royal Navy vessels.

Disposing of just one sub costs as much as £96million, a Government spending watchdog says.

Decommissioned subs still have to be crewed despite being removed from use. They are stored at Devonport, Devon, and Rosyth, Fife, while awaiting disposal.

It can cost as much as £96m to scrap a nuclear submarine


A National Audit Office inquiry found the MoD has put its total future liability for maintaining and disposing of the 20 stored and 10 in-service nuclear-powered boats at £7.5billion over 120 years.

The NAO said the MoD also does not have a fully developed plan to dispose of its operational Vanguard and Astute subs or future Dreadnought vessels, which have different types of nuclear reactor.

Meg Hillier MP, Commons Public Accounts Committee chair, said: “For more than 20 years, the MoD has been promising to dismantle its out-of-service nuclear submarines, and told my committee last year that it would now address this dismal lack of progress.

Committee chairman Meg Hillier has condemned the MoD


“It has still not disposed of any of the 20 submarines decommissioned since 1980, and does not yet know fully how to do it. Disposal programmes have been beset by lengthy delays and spiralling costs.

“The ministry needs to get a grip urgently before we run out of space to store and maintain submarines and we damage our reputation as a responsible nuclear power.”

An MoD spokesman said: “We remain committed to the safe, secure and cost-effective de-fuelling and dismantling of all decommissioned nuclear submarines as soon as practically possible.”

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