back to article Just the small matter of the bill for scrapping Blighty's old nuclear submarines: It's £7.5bn

Storing Britain's obsolete nuclear submarines has cost the nation £500m – with some 1960s boats having been in storage for longer than they were in service. The National Audit Office's (NAO) latest report into British nuclear submarine storage and disposal revealed that nine of the 20 vessels moored at Devonport and Rosyth …

  1. Martin hepworth

    USS Enterprise similar

    The USA are having similar issues with the nuclear fleet..

    https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a22690208/us-navy-dismantling-uss-enterprise-nuclear-disposal/

    1. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: USS Enterprise similar

      Just empty them of hydrocarbons and sink them in the deep ocean. They will them emit less radiation into the deep ocean than Sellafield does into the Irish Sea. Job done.

      1. lee harvey osmond

        Re: USS Enterprise similar

        Illegal.

        That was the original disposal plan, but dumping radioactive waste as sea like this is no longer lawful.

        1. JaitcH
          Unhappy

          Re: USS Enterprise similar

          I remember when barges, with hulls fitted with doors, laden with radioactive waste, used to sail into the Atlantic and then discharge their poisonous freight.

          I was technical staff on a government ship, and we always received cryptic messages where these operations were occurring and here previous drops had occurred.

          Little wonder this planet is calling time out!

          Now we are filling space, and some other planets, with our junk.

      2. seven of five

        Re: USS Enterprise similar

        Hydrocarbons are among the most harmless stuff on a submarine. Fire retardants tend to be spectacular poisonous. And insulating material.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: USS Enterprise similar

          >Hydrocarbons are among the most harmless stuff on a submarine. Fire retardants tend to be spectacular poisonous. And insulating material.

          Quite, these old boats are full of asbestos.

          https://www.france24.com/en/20080701-uk-dismantle-french-asbestos-laden-aircraft-carrier-navy-shipbuilding

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: USS Enterprise similar

            Yes, the asbestos could damage the lungs of the fish.

            1. SNAFUology
              Headmaster

              Cynic _999 Re: USS Enterprise similar

              "Yes, the asbestos could damage the lungs of the fish."

              fish lungs - very few have them - mud skippers do, I think

              Gills of fish - not likely to suffer from asbestos fiber aggravation, though some sea life could in the gut perhaps.

      3. LucreLout Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: USS Enterprise similar

        Just empty them of hydrocarbons and sink them in the deep ocean. They will them emit less radiation into the deep ocean than Sellafield does into the Irish Sea. Job done.

        Have you not seen Godzilla?!

  2. Korev Silver badge
    Flame

    Plymouth?

    Having a load of defunct and decaying submarines in the centre of a major city really isn't very clever.

    What we hope doesn't happen -->

    1. David 18

      Re: Plymouth?

      "Having a load of defunct and decaying submarines in the centre of a major city really isn't very clever."

      It has been doing a very good job of keeping the snow away though! last year we were completely free of snow, you could drive a couple of miles in any direction out of Plymouth and be stuck in a snow drift.

      (It's not quite the middle, it's the edge, but I get your point)

    2. lee harvey osmond

      Re: Plymouth?

      Go on, explain why.

      All the hazardous material has been stripped out except for (maybe) the reactor core, and the reactor compartment which contains bits of radioactive stuff mostly deemed low or intermediate.

      I suppose if you really wanted to cause a nuclear accident (radiological rather than fissile) by eg working really hard at crashing aeroplanes fuel of fuel into the reactor core stores, you might succeed, and having this happen in a city centre would be worse than having it occur somewhere less densely populated.

      The submarines aren't a significant risk to public safety, even in Plymouth Dockyard about 100m from a primary school, but failing to defuel them is a risk, wherever they are.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Plymouth?

        The article says

        The National Audit Office's (NAO) latest report into British nuclear submarine storage and disposal revealed that nine of the 20 vessels moored at Devonport and Rosyth dockyards still contain spent nuclear fuel.

        If they were defueled then the risk would be much lower (as you say) from a radiological point of view. Having decaying ships & subs so near to where people live isn't a good thing, they leak all the time. The non-radioactive materials are also a risk here (PCBs, asbestos etc.)

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Plymouth?

          'Having decaying ships & subs so near to where people live isn't a good thing, they leak all the time.'

          Decaying is a misnomer, they're still maintained and have a skeleton crew to prevent that happening.

          1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: Decaying is a misnomer, they're still maintained and have a skeleton crew

            The turn of phrase used ("skeleton crew") does not inspire me with confidence.

          2. David Woodhead
            Mushroom

            Re: Plymouth?

            Can you imagine being in the Navy and being posted as crew on a stripped out nuclear submarine which no-one knows what to do with? You couldn't help thinking that they're trying to tell you something.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          "If they were defueled then the risk would be much lower "

          True.

          But....

          IIRC the early boats were not designed to be refueled, so they weren't designed to be de-fueled (a really classic case of having to support a badly thought out design rather than design-for-support).

          And who would likely get the contract for this work you ask?

          Step forward 'ol "Billions Above Estimate." I think we know where the estimate goes from here.

          1. Robert Sneddon

            Refueling

            IIRC the early boats were not designed to be refueled, so they weren't designed to be de-fueled

            The earliest nuclear subs were intended to be refuelled since their designed hull lifetime was greater than the initial fuel load in the reactor would provide. Being a sub with limited space inside the hull refuelling required the sub to be cut in half to access the reactor space, extract the spent fuel and install fresh fuel. This was expensive in time and money and usually only done during a major refit operation lasting years when the sub wouldn't be available for operations.

            Newer subs including the latest designs have a more advanced reactor design using very highly-enriched fuel that can be expected to provide propulsion power and more for the expected lifespan of the sub's operations. Any refits don't require cutting the hull in half, saving time and money.

  3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    "since the UK moved its nuclear deterrent from RAF aircraft to Royal Navy submarines in the 1960s."

    Ooooh no missus.

    The RAF retained it's nuclear capability until at least as recently as 1998 with WE177 gravity bombs. In the 70s I lived on a V-Bomber base, it was common knowledge we still had nuclear capabilities. Turns out these didn't disappear with the decommission of the Vulcans. There's a Wikipedia page and stuff if you want to check it out, that whole story about the Navy taking over was BS for SALT.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Mushroom

      to make things more (nu)clear

      If El Reg would have added the word strategic to the sentence then it would have been correct.

      1. Jim Mitchell
        Mushroom

        Re: to make things more (nu)clear

        No nuclear weapon is really a "tactical" weapon, in reality all are strategic no matter the yield or delivery method.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: to make things more (nu)clear

          Davy Crockett had a 25t yield IIRC.

          It was a tactical nuclear weapon for use as part of a strategic nuclear battle. While Washington and Moscow were covered in radioactive dust and Colorado and Sverdlovsk were seas of glass, Soviet tanks in Germany would be taken out by human-launched tactical nukes.

          However, the Russian Federation has actual tactical nukes for use on their own territory against invading armies. NATO won't be allowed to copy Hitler's Blitzkrieg. Russian planners have long memories.

          1. lglethal Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: to make things more (nu)clear

            "However, the Russian Federation has actual tactical nukes for use on their own territory against invading armies. NATO won't be allowed to copy Hitler's Blitzkrieg. Russian planners have long memories."

            Whilst I dont doubt that that is the thinking in Russia, - it is an utterly insane viewpoint to think that NATO WANTS to invade Russia. Maybe stop it from taking over the baltic states, and the other parts of the former USSR, which for some reason Russia still thinks of as theirs. But the thought that NATO might actuially want to invade Russia is frankly nuts.

            I guess its a good excuse (sorry politics) for keeping the current regime in power - convince everyone they're in danger without strongman Putin in power, but seriously its just a ridiculous idea...

            1. Wellyboot Silver badge

              Re: to make things more (nu)clear

              From the Russian PoV Russia is surrounded, In 1941 they had a modern military that was far bigger than Germany had and still came within a gnats breath of being beaten by superior tactics & experience.

              Russia left Eastern Europe in the early nineties and have since watched all those countries joining both the EU & NATO. They now see a 400 million strong population block on their doorstep being led by two countries with form for heading East. (Ukraine would also be in NATO now if it wasn't for the near civil war with Russian backed separatists). To the South are all the volatile 'Stans and a vaguely friendly India sharing a distrust of China.

              With their (blood soaked) history I don't see any reason for Russia to risk erring on the side of our 'obvious', after all the EU is trying to become a superstate and we're only ever one election away from picking another fan of Hugo Boss uniforms.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: to make things more (nu)clear

                During the Russian Civil War, the U.S. just happened to invade as well. We already have form here so I'd be correctly paranoid, too.

                1. Robert Sneddon

                  Russian Civil War

                  It wasn't just the Americans, the Australians, Canadians, British and French invaded too -- one of the British Army's regiments has "Archangel 1918-19" as a battle honour. The efforts the Western Allies spent in re-arming the West Germans after WWII was also a big hint to the old guys in the Kremlin.

                  1. PhilipN Silver badge

                    Re: Russian Civil War

                    Believe it was Zhukov who wrote in his memoirs that they interpreted the appeasement of Hitler by other Western powers a la Munich was in reality part of a strategy to persuade Germany to attack Russia.

                  2. Wellyboot Silver badge

                    Re: Russian Civil War

                    Eleven British regiments have battle honours for Archangel or Murmansk. The Russian post revolution civil war is one of the biggest 'unknown' everyone is welcome wars of the 20th C.

                2. PhilipN Silver badge

                  Long memories

                  We do not realise it today but the Communist takeover in Russia 100 some years ago was as welcome to most other countries as was the rise of Isis in the Middle East a couple of years ago. The reaction to “wipe them out” was fairly universal, tempered only by the military realities of the times. Russia has indeed an inescapable sense of being under threat. The West is not doing much to reassure them but I agree with above poster that it would be mad for NATO to become the outright aggressor.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Long memories

                    Agreed about NATO having to be mad, but have you noticed who is the CinC of the main contributor to NATO?

              2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                Re: to make things more (nu)clear

                In 1941 they had a modern military that was far bigger than Germany

                No - and yes. Yes, their army was much, much larger, but their training and equipment levels (apart from the Guards units) was pathetic. It also didn't help that Stalin had decimated the whole officer corps by purging anyone that he didn't like (or might grow powerful enough to challenge him).

                So yes, big army with (some) pretty good equipment (and the knowledge about how to move during the winter and thaw times). But the Germans were far better armed and equpped and, had Hitler not decided that he was a magnificent strategist, they probably would have taken Moscow and the other major cities of the Soviet west. Sure, the armies could retreat to Siberia and quite a few factories had been relocated far from the front but it would have taken a lot more time and lives to push the Germans back. And, had the UK and the US not supplied huge amount of supplies and weapons to the Soviets, might not have been possible at all.

              3. DavCrav Silver badge

                Re: to make things more (nu)clear

                "Russia left Eastern Europe in the early nineties and have since watched all those countries joining both the EU & NATO."

                Yeah, it's almost like they didn't appreciate being enslaved for most of the previous century for the glory of the motherland. Ungrateful bastards.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: to make things more (nu)clear

              Though we're way off the subject, you have to realise that many Russians feel they were invaded and looted by the US from 1990-2000. In 1996, US publications openly boasted that they had got Yeltsin re-elected. In 1998 the economy collapsed and ordinary people lost all their savings. The nomenklatura had facilitated the looting and vastly profited themselves. Since 2000 they have moved to the US and the UK.

              Now, the Russian view of it may or may not be correct. I certainly don't have time to formulate a view on such a complex subject. But, given that's how they think, paranoia about American - NATO is just seen as the poodle - intentions is understandable. Russia has vast reserves of gas and strategic minerals. So does Iraq. So does Afghanistan. Look what happened there...

              Try telling a victim of domestic abuse that it isn't rational to think the ex-husband is going to turn up on the doorstep because it would make no sense. Even if the victim of the abuse isn't a very nice person herself, she can be excused having strong opinions on the subject.

              1. Richard 12 Silver badge

                Re: to make things more (nu)clear

                Yes, and that's basically why NATO invading should be totally unbelievable to any Russian, even if they don't understand the value the West places on the lives of soldiers and civilians.

                No point spending billions on prosecuting a war if you can get the same result by simple economics.

                1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                  Re: to make things more (nu)clear

                  Yes, it turns around Lenins quote "They'll sell us the rope we hang them with" to "They'll buy the rope we hang them with"

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Russian Federation has actual tactical nukes for use on their own territory

              I'm pretty sure that this doctrine does not refer to the use of tactical nukes by Russia "on their own territory against invading armies", but to the use of tactical nukes, period. In short, they know they can't win a full-on conflict, so they "reserve the right" to use tactical nukes if they start to lose. This is a very smart declaration, in a way, because they have built a reputation for being unpredictable, thus very much able to deliver on that threat. And they know very well that NATO has (practically) no tactical nukes to counter theirs, to keep such conflict in check (that's why the US began developing such weapons last year). NATO would have to counter-attack with what is available, but this would be nukes with much higher yield, so it won't use them in fear of escalation. And NATO won't use them for another very important reason that the Russians bank on - they know that the western public is "weak" and "divided", and it would panic at the slightest notion of escalating nuclear conflict, and would most probably force their governements _not_ to use any nuclear weapons. Even if the public couldn't force the government in the long run, all that Russians need is a bit of chaos and _delay_, by a few days, you know, those diplomatic efforts to avoid a full-scale nuclear holocaust", a couple of weeks tops, and by then, well, a territory that's been "liberated" by the Russian armies undergoes a local referendum / poll / vote to prove that the local population is very happy to be under the protection of the Russian armed forces thankyouverymuch. Plus, by that time both western public, supported by sympathetic media become awash with the usual should we, shouldn't we, how about, perhaps the best solution, etc, etc., never mind the usual "Do we want our boys to die for [unpronnouncable place-name in a far-away place], particularly as those locals are so happy now? This gives both the western public and the western government _perfect_ excuse to think they've done their best by doing nothing. But hey, peace for our time, non? That said, there appears to me nothing immediately available at NATO disposal to counter this Russian threat, and it seems to worry some people whose job is to plan for such a conflict. Possibly the reason why the US have begun developing those missiles.

              p.s. obviously, armed conflict is back-breaking, economically, and even though we're "weak" and Russians are "tough", any such conflict might lead to social unrest in Russia (happily and lavishly supported by us, no doubt, and the Russians would happily set us up as they did before, creating fake anti-government, dissident networks), hence military option is supplemented by other doctrines. That said, if their progress is based primarily on "acquisition", be it mineral resources or (new) territory, and yet they haven't got enough support on the ground, they need more that just little green men out of the blue, and for that a bit of armour and artillery does very well. Particularly if those (scant) NATO air force is denied access to the area. But that's not about old British nukes, is it. Or, is it?

              1. Peter2 Silver badge

                Re: Russian Federation has actual tactical nukes for use on their own territory

                Um, two points.

                First, when wargaming commanders attacked with tactical nuclear weapons used their tactical nuclear weapons in response, and after a few cycles of response and counter response using tactical nuclear weapons against unlaunched nuclear weapons created a use or lose situation on both sides and use of tactical nuclear weapons became prolific and ended with a full nuclear exchange on both sides, which was basically one reason why (e)limitation of tactical nuclear weapons was started in the first place.

                Second, Russia does not have and has never had a huge advantage in numbers. The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe set both sides with parity on numbers, and the NATO side had a comically absurd qualitative advantage. With the breakup of the USSR, a good proportion of the Soviet equipment is now arrayed against Russia as the former Soviet states want to remain independent so the Russian quantities are lower, and the western quantitative advantage has risen at a generally considerably higher rate than Russia's has as the combined R&D spend is bigger than Russia's total military budget.

                The reds aren't coming over the hill for us because they cannot possibly win. We aren't going to invade Russia either, because if the Russian leaders offered the country to us on a plate we wouldn't want to spend the money rebuilding the place, which rules out wanting to actually invade it, what with the resultant war which would result in tens of thousands of deaths with a purely conventional war, if not hundreds of millions should nuclear weapons be resorted to.

                1. MacroRodent Silver badge

                  Re: Russian Federation has actual tactical nukes for use on their own territory

                  > The reds aren't coming over the hill for us because they cannot possibly win.

                  Depends on the definition of "us" (which to me seems to have become less defined under the reign of Trump). I agree Russia is not going to attack U.S or the Western Europe directly, but it is constantly looking for ways to restore the old empire.

                  1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                    Re: Russian Federation has actual tactical nukes for use on their own territory

                    I agree Russia is not going to attack U.S or the Western Europe directly, but it is constantly looking for ways to restore the old empire.

                    I very much doubt it. So Cold War Russia was the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. So NATO set up as a counterweight to perceived Soviet expansion threat. Cold War sort of ended, Soviet Union & Warsaw Pact collapsed, leaving Russia as an independent state.. And NATO looking a bit.. pointless.

                    And Russia's fricking huge. 160m or so people living in the largest country in the world, with one of the lowest population densities. Especially as most of that population lives in the western part, and thus more vulnerable to NATO expansion.. Especially given things like the Ukraine situation. So Russia's sitting on huge natural resources, and has been steadily modernising and improving it's manufacturing and agriculture. So no longer does Russia rely on US grain exports, it's turned into a net exporter itself. Which makes for interesting geopolitics given flooding in the US is going to have a huge impact on US agricultural production.

                    Russia doesn't need to expand. It's even been offering free land to Russians in the east to try and shift some population that way, and slow/stop the drift towards Moscow, St Petersburg etc. Soviet/Warsaw Pact are no longer a drain on Russia's economy, and it's a major trade competitor to other nations. Hence sanctions & FUD. The Russians are coming! NATO members, spend more money! Our arms industry needs you!

                    Which also annoys the US. I mean NATO. See Turkey and their decision to buy S-400 SAMs, and not old Patriots. Or nations looking to buy Su-35s, or Su-57s instead of the more patriotic F-35. And India and China are also busy developing their own aircraft and weapon systems, and sharing technology & development with Russia.

                    And geopolitically. the bigger threats are developing in Eurasia & the Middle East, so India vs Pakistan, China vs India, Iran vs everybody. Or there's Latin America, where nations have been floating ideas for their own SATO. The US under Obama started a pivot towards the Pacific.. Under Trump, it's anyone's guess.. But NATO isn't exactly well positioned or motivated to help out in most of those theatres.

                    1. MacroRodent Silver badge

                      Re: Russian Federation has actual tactical nukes for use on their own territory

                      Of course, from a rational point of view Russia has no need to expand, you are right there. But nationalism is not rational, and autocratic leaders have always loved empire-building.

                      The sanctions you mention are a direct reaction to an actual case of Russian expansionism.

  4. Little Mouse

    Genuine question - What would be the impact of simply scuttling one of these?

    Mostly bad, I imagine, but how bad?

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      If they were to encapsulate it in concrete first you wouldn't think it would be bad, would you?

    2. Jolyon Ralph

      The impact to us would be pretty minimal if we scuttled them in the pacific :)

      Actually, disposing of nuclear waste in the deep ocean isn't necessarily a bad idea if done sensibly. The reasons for not doing it are mostly political rather than scientific.

      1. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Rock paper seawater

        > The reasons for not doing it are mostly political rather than scientific.

        Really? Seawater is famously corrosive. The waste is more likely to stay put if the canisters are buried in solid rock. But the reasons why this does not progress either (in most places except Finland) are mostly political... not in my backyard etc.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Rock paper seawater

          Diluting N kgs of waste in a very large volume of seawater would result in a very low radiological risk. Remember the motto: "the solution to pollution is dilution". So yes, it is political.

          1. MacroRodent Silver badge

            Re: Rock paper seawater

            > "the solution to pollution is dilution"

            Works for small amounts of pollution, but not in the long run, as we have painfully learned with the atmosphere (and I don't mean just the CO2 problem, but also fluorocarbons and the acid rain problem). The ocean is also a biological system, which sometimes reverses your dilution (just ask the inhabitants of Minamata).

            There is an even larger volume of rock to dig the waste in, and we can make sure the waste stays there until no longer harmful. Unlike the sea, the rock does not flow around, at least not on the time scales we are talking about (around 100 000 years, geologically an eye-blink).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Rock paper seawater

            it's not only political, it is also a sense of moral obligation (unless I'm so naive because that bit is long dead). I would think though, that they don't want to set an example, and precedent. And it's not that following (Great) Britain, all countries in the world would start sinking their old subs (milions and milions of them, eh ;). It's more general, a nod that out of sight is out of mind, and you can sink anything as long as it's far enough from your shore. Or your friends's shore. Or "I don't care if it's far enough from any shore, just get it out of my sight at the cheapest price point". It's the same as with Trump, it's not that his tweeting madness has encouraged other (...) leaders to tweeter away, it's that his broad "spuriousness" have confirmed to all leaders, large and small, that it's not just OK, but a way forwar to be spurious on anything, cause Da Most Important Man In Da World, so why not me?

        2. TheVogon Silver badge

          Re: Rock paper seawater

          "Really? Seawater is famously corrosive"

          The oceans are also famously vast and have plenty of natural radiation. Dropping even high level radioactive waste into the deep ocean has negligible impact.

          1. zuckzuckgo

            Re: Rock paper seawater

            > Dropping even high level radioactive waste into the deep ocean has negligible impact.

            Just the thought of all the Godzilla remakes such an action would inspire should rule it out. Think of the children.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Absolutely. Scientific American once covered this, with a proposal to sink containers in deep sediment with location devices in case some remedial action was needed.

        Once you get deep enough in sediment corrosion becomes largely a non-issue, it's earthquake-proof and even if something leaks dilution will save you - there's an awful lot of water, unless you believe in homoeopathy.

        However, the countries that are producing the waste are not the countries in and surrounding where the waste would be dumped. It is a political problem, but a very understandable one.

        1. Flywheel Silver badge

          sink containers in deep sediment with location devices

          Wow, the [insert rogue nation state here] Governments would just love this idea. Just take a large vessel. find the location device signal and recover all that lovely radioactive material. I'm sure some of those states are cavalier enough to do that!

          1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

            Re: sink containers in deep sediment with location devices

            Wow, the [insert rogue nation state here] Governments would just love this idea. Just take a large vessel. find the location device signal and recover all that lovely radioactive material. I'm sure some of those states are cavalier enough to do that!

            If you have the capability to access a submarine 10km under the ocean, then you are probably already capable of processing your own radioactive material

        2. Chris G Silver badge

          " unless you believe in homoeopathy."

          Hmm! With the right marketing........................................

        3. JaitcH

          'Political problems' are usually short-sighted, often determined by a politicians, or governments, office life-span.

          Nuclear waste disposal is a prime example. At least they have developed methods for destroying hundreds of tons of poisonous gas.

      3. TheVogon Silver badge

        "The reasons for not doing it are mostly political rather than scientific."

        Quite. Specifically a Greenpeace cry me a river campaign about Russian dumping of waste.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Wouldn't a remote, uninhabited, geologically stable island be suitable? Excavate a giant cave above the tsunami-line, and we can put all the world's concrete-encased reactors in one place? How about Vindication Island?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I think you will find there is quite a shortage of remote, uninhabited, geologically stable islands that are suitable for building a very large repository. Vindication Island doesn't look to be nearly big enough, and nearby Candlemas Island has an active volcano.

      4. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Actually, disposing of nuclear waste in the deep ocean isn't necessarily a bad idea if done sensibly. The reasons for not doing it are mostly political rather than scientific.

        Maybe if you could drop them directly on the Mid-Atlantic rift-valley, where the magma could melt them down (yeah, probably wouldn't work as cleanly as all that).

    3. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      It's in Plymouth, so probably improve it

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Devil

        Bring them on land and open them as museums. Then it's simply to decide which parts of the country most need a quick burst of evolutionary progress? Plymouth is a fair bet - but also I'd suggest sending a few to Norfolk and Suffolk. Isle of Wight too perhaps?

    4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Little Mouse asked...

      Q: What would be the impact of simply scuttling one of these?

      A: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godzilla

      1. hittitezombie

        Re: Little Mouse asked...

        Unlikely. Gojira was anreaction after US actually exploded bombs in the ocean, and among various atolls.

        The effect of those very dirty explosions would be way worse than an couple of irradiated sub's background radiation.

    5. The Nazz Silver badge

      A small skirmish

      Couldn't we just start a small skirmish off an under-developed country, say alongside the Atlantic, somewhere near Las Malvinas say. Irritate the locals first, then have all the old subs surface at once. Fire a few dummy rounds to get the locals fired up and firing back.

      A short battle later, one side restores their national pride and we walk away laughing.

      tbf it would really require robotic crew for each sub but not impossible.

  5. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    I thought HMS Dreadnought (S101) was the first British nuclear sub?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      They did use the words "first operational" in the article. Though I thought Dreadnought was used in operations, even though it was a prototype. Plus the post below has the list in order.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        HMS Dreadnought

        Operation Journeyman was a Royal Navy operation in which a naval taskforce was sent to the Falkland Islands in November 1977 to prevent an Argentine invasion.

        HMS Dreadnought provided the role of hunter-killer submarine, although it didn't have to sink anything.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: HMS Dreadnought

          My recollection is that Dreadnougth was retired early, because it was relatively noisy - and so it wasn't deemed worth upgrading all the other systems in order to keep it in operation for another decade. But given it was a horribly complicated prototype, it's also possible that noise wasn't the only reason.

  6. Rupert Fiennes Silver badge

    Some errors

    The first RN nuclear sub was the Dreadnought, which came into service with an US reactor in 1962. Two Valiant class SSN's followed, then four Resolution SSBN's, then three Churchill class SSN's (one of which was Conqueror) before the 7 Swiftsures and 7 Trafalgars (of which three are still in service).

    1. CountCadaver

      Re: Some errors

      Then we have the 4 Vanguard SSBNs and the 7 Astute class SSNs

  7. 0laf Silver badge
    Trollface

    But one day...

    Are they next to a pile of odd propriatory pc cables? coz, you know, they day we get rid of them is the day we'll need them

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: But one day...

      Look on the bright side. After Brexit we'll be rolling in cash and free to re-commission them to patrol the crucial new cucumber trade route between Ipswich and Vanuatu.

  8. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Joke

    Tradition

    Her Majesty can use them to keep her jewels in. It's the traditional use of large, obsolete military technology.

  9. EmilPer.

    why not strip the weapons and upgrade them

    .. to a research/cable laying or monitoring/prospecting role ?

    I have no clue about nuclear submarines, just asking.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: why not strip the weapons and upgrade them

      Too expensive. They've been heavily used, so keeping them in service basically means ripping everything out and starting again. Which means cutting huge holes in the structure (and pressure hull), which means it's as cheap to start again.

      That's not to mention nuclear. Radiation makes changes to the crystal strucuture of the metal bits of the reactor. Which probably means ripping all that out and replacing.

      Anyway subs are horrifically expensive to maintain and operate. So civilians use surface ships. Cheaper, safer and easier to maintain. Plus more room for sleeping and stuff.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: why not strip the weapons and upgrade them

        Anyway subs are horrifically expensive to maintain and operate. So civilians use surface ships. Cheaper, safer and easier to maintain. Plus more room for sleeping and stuff.

        Well.. I want an Astute! Or a Typhoon. Strip out torpedoes and missiles and there'd be room for more luxury and fun bits. Pop up in say, Monaco during the GP next to the super yachts, and load up with VIPs for a sure-fire way to avoid the paparazi.. Unless it provokes an arms race and they start buying their own subs. I guess one downside would be that playing loud music would interfere with other subs.. Or rent it out as a noise-maker/jammer.. Party, and generate lots of low/high frequency sounds to mask someone wanting to be sneaky.

        But somehow, I doubt I'd be let loose with a nuclear powered attack sub.. And there'd be a LOT of paperwork.

        Other than that, the delays in decommissioning are due to the usual objections to any plan for long-term storage of our nuclear waste. So the Greens force it to be left where it is, slowly decaying and potentially creating higher risks.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: why not strip the weapons and upgrade them

          Jellied Eel,

          Some of the Trafalgar class boats were decommissioned early due to cracking in the reactors. So I don't think you'll be able to buy one of those army surplus. And new Astutes go for £2 billlion. I'm sure you could negotiate a discount, on the grounds you don't want the horribly expensive sonars and computers - but it's still a pretty substantial chunk of change.

          A decommissioned aircraft carrier would be far cheaper, and you'd have loads more room.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: why not strip the weapons and upgrade them

            A decommissioned aircraft carrier would be far cheaper, and you'd have loads more room.

            But.. but.. I've read Snowcrash, and have no desire to listen to Reason! And I'd kinda want the sonars as a) they're meant to be awesome, and b) sonar mapping the seabed is strangely fascinating.. Especially as so much of our oceans are un-mapped. But I rather suspect they're also components I'd not be allowed to get my grubby mits on.

            As for the Trafalgars, a bit of Flex-Seal, and they'll be fine. Wonder if they'd sponsor?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: why not strip the weapons and upgrade them

          It's not hard to get a submarine if you have the cash and don't really want to dive. Shallow depth submarines are made in the Caribbean (and probably elsewhere) for use by drug smugglers. In use, only the conning tower really sticks up which makes them relatively hard to detect and quiet.

          And unsafe and very expensive, but if you're a really big drug dealer - like the Colombian gangs - the profits can be very large.

          The biggest drug dealers, after all, like BAT, Philip Morris and the Sacklers, can afford to buy off governments.

          1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

            Re: why not strip the weapons and upgrade them

            @Voyna i Mor

            Re: BAT ,.... I once had reason to visit BAT HQ by Temple Tube in London. One of the other delegates joked before the meeting started 'Where's the contraband' at which point our host went to a cupboard, opened a carton of 200 cigarettes and threw them onto the conference table. I often wondered how many schools he drove past on the way home.

        3. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: why not strip the weapons and upgrade them

          Well.. I want an Astute! Or a Typhoon.

          For Sale - Classic British Typhoon submarine, one lady owner since new. Fully taxed, needs slight reactor work for MOT.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            Happy

            Re: why not strip the weapons and upgrade them

            The Typhoons are Russian. Lots of room though, as I seem to recall they had two pressure hulls fixed side-by-side (or was it one above t'other?). Once you've taken all the pesky nuclear missiles out, you could do a lot with that compartment. Not sure I'd count the Soviet Navy as a "careful owner" though... And they're a similar age to the Trafalgar boats.

            I did see a documentary about one you might be able to buy a few years ago. The Americans got hold of it, through a bizarre sequence of circumstances. Funny, the Soviet Navy entrusted such a powerful warship to a captain with a strong Scottish accent. Wonder where he picked that up?

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: why not strip the weapons and upgrade them

              The Typhoons are Russian. Lots of room though, as I seem to recall they had two pressure hulls fixed side-by-side (or was it one above t'other?). Once you've taken all the pesky nuclear missiles out, you could do a lot with that compartment.

              Side by side I think, and always wondered how you get from one to t'other. But chop out the missile gallerys, join the hulls, and Club Typhoon! No need to dive deep, but would need some good titanium welders. And a lot of paperwork.

              Funny, the Soviet Navy entrusted such a powerful warship to a captain with a strong Scottish accent. Wonder where he picked that up?

              And a well known spy! But think he's currently living in some tax haven, enjoying the very un-Scottish sun.

    2. lee harvey osmond

      Re: why not strip the weapons and upgrade them

      "I have no clue about nuclear submarines, just asking"

      well, it does show a little ...

      It's not that they're obsolete or surplus, it's that they're worn out and the nuclear propulsion system is f**ked. They ought to be scrap, but we can't scrap them fast enough.

      And any kind of research, cable laying, monitoring or prospecting could be done way cheaper with a ship than with a submarine.

    3. chronicdashedgehog

      Re: why not strip the weapons and upgrade them

      What if we were really desperate - like in the film 'Battleship'?

      They'd make a great tourist attraction

  10. John Jennings

    See one of the other infographics on that site

    https://www.nao.org.uk/report/investigation-into-submarine-defueling-and-dismantling/#foobox-1/12/Figure-12-Investigation-into-submarine-defueling-and-dismantling.png

    Compares a core (13 ft) to telephone boxes (9ft).... A new Register Unit of measurement?

    Re EmilPer. I imagine that Nuclear subs are not cheap to run. They are also very primitive inside (compared to modern survey ships and would need refitted.

    Likely they also need refuelled. I believe that a typical rod lasts about 6-7 years without reprocessing......

    I dont think the UK would sell a military grade nuclear reactor to the private sector either.....

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: See one of the other infographics on that site

      I got on one of the V boats for a tour. They are indeed very dated on the inside with most things showing their 60s/70s design heritage. Although they are probably very radiation hardened for that reason.

  11. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Just strap a rocket to 'em and shoot 'em to Sol.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Surely a robot autopilot and ram them into Russian Navy ships "accidentally". Though there's only so many times you can apologise and get the Minister of Defence to resign, before they notice the pattern...

      1. Vulch

        Appoint Chris Grayling as Minister for Disposing of Nuclear Submarines and we should be able to get through all of them before anyone spots the pattern.

        Mind you, half of them would probably miss the Russian ships, and the US Navy, French Navy (we tried once with them already, score draw) and Isle of Wight might spot it...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Be careful - Grayling would want to use them for the post-Brexit ferry service. At least the vegetables wouldn't go off quickly.

        2. Jonathon Green

          Appointing Chris Grayling as a minister for disposing of unwanted stuff would pretty much guarantee ending up with more unwanted stuff than you actually started with, so probably not a good idea... :-)

  12. Korev Silver badge
    Joke

    Alternatively

    We could just sell the subs to the Canadians...

    1. MiguelC Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Alternatively

      Or to the Argentinians, they seem to be one short since the '80s

      1. Ken 16 Silver badge

        Re: Alternatively

        Albanians, Algerians - someone must want a generation old nuclear submarine right?

      2. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: Alternatively

        And let's not forget that the Welsh want Patagonia back.

  13. Andre 3

    Add them to the power grid

    Surely it would be easier to haul them onto land and cable them up to the power grid - no need for any new power plants when we have prefectly good working ones laying about in the sea...

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Add them to the power grid

      I think they looked at that in the '60s or '70s to cope with strikes leading to power cuts. It was more trouble than it was worth in that case, and the retired ones probably need re-fueling.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Add them to the power grid

      Well yes, what did happen to the "Small Modular Reactors for electricity supply" proposal/competiton due to end a couple of years ago?

      https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/business/derbys-rolls-royce-verge-go-667708 (2017)

      "Around 2,400 people work at Raynesway making power plants for nuclear submarines, making it the largest nuclear skills base in the UK."

  14. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    A lick o' paint, some lead foil and a quick refueling and these magnificent boats could be once again patrolling the seas on behalf of Britannia, ready to deal harshly with any post-Brexit naval shenanigans on the part of the treacherous foreigners.

    Or we could do what everyone knows is the best way to rid oneself of toxic and/or radioactive waste by dropping the boats into a volcano, but if we are gong to do that we'd best get a move on before post-Brexit fiddling paperwork denies us access to the nearest and most active volcanoes.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Bah!

      I'd never thought of volcanic disposal before. You sir are a genius! I salute your perpicacity!

      I'm guessing the nearest ones are Iceland or Italy. With Italy you've got all the paperwork, and bribes, mafia and sunburn - whereas Iceland have no standing army.

      Do you have to sacrifice virgins to the volcano god in order to placate him for all the crap you're chucking into his house? Because they'll probably have to look further afield than Plymouth to find any of those...

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Volcanoes

        Don't we have one of our own?

        I'm talking about Tristan Da Cuna. I seem to remember that it erupted back in the 1960's????

        Or we could sink them right onto the mid-altantic ridge. They'll get crushed at those depths and the heat from the expanding plate could even melt them down to nothing.

      2. dajames Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        I'd never thought of volcanic disposal before. You sir are a genius! I salute your perpicacity!

        The trouble with volcanoes is that they tend to spit stuff out, up into the air, all over the place.

        It's called an "eruption", from a Latin word meaning "burst forth" ... which -- call me picky -- doesn't sound quite like the sort of controlled disposal technique that the nuclear industry is seeking ...

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Bah!

          dajames,

          Don't bore me with these petty details! I want giant railways built up the side of volcanoes - so we can chuck stuff in. And I want to see it crashing into a nice pool of molten lava too. Which means we may need to use lots of explosives to keep the caldera active. There's no possible downsides to that right?

          Nice sacrificial platforms are an optional extra, which would make the whole thing look nice. And railways need platforms...

      3. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        Subduction zones.

        Just park it in a subduction zone and it'll get pulled under the Earth's crust.

    2. Bowlers

      Re: Bah!

      Better to sink it into a subduction zone, natures recycling system.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Bah!

        Bowlers suggested, "Better to sink it into a subduction zone, natures recycling system."

        Just inshore from the subduction zone are the volcanos, from where all the subducted rubbish is eventually spewed out.

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      If you are going to give them a lick of paint, why not get one of 'em up and running as the new Royal Yacht? Her Maj would be the only monarch on the planet to arrive somewhere under water.

      The rest could be upcycled as runabouts for MPs on junkets to foreign countries, and damaging their genes wouldn't matter because most of them don't belong in the gene pool anyway.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Answer obvious

    got to war with some other third world country no one cares about and move all your radioactive waste to the front lines, works for depeleted Uranium so why not depleted nuclear sub marines

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Answer obvious

      I admire your cynicism but Iraq wasn't a Third World country till we made it one.

  16. davews

    HMS Courageous in Devenport is open for public tours, excellent. All the dangerous bits have been made safe (you are not shown round the reactor...). The other decommissioned ones shown in the pictures are parked nearby and presumably of no safety concern to the visiting public.

  17. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Happy

    Mole?

    Remove the conning tower and replace the propeller with a giant auger. Then going astern you'd be able to bore holes in dormant volcanos. Super villains would be queuing up to buy them!

  18. trevorde

    Grayling'll fix it!

    I'm sure he'll find a nuclear sub disposal company* who'll be able to do it

    *company has no prior experience, no employees, no facilities, and terms and conditions copied from a pizza delivery website

  19. Avatar of They
    Mushroom

    Wow.

    I didn't believe any of this as how can you possibly just have a load of subs lined up sitting in a dock taking up space etc.

    Then I google mapped it and yes there are a load of subs lined up sitting in a dock taking up space. At each place with what looks like an aircraft carrier sat next it in Fyfe.

    Nice.

    1. Vulch

      Re: Wow.

      It is an aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales. Second of the pair due to be operating F-35-Bs at some point when there's enough of them flying.

      1. seven of five

        Re: Wow.

        > It is an aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales. To operate the second pair of F-35-Bs at some point when there's enough of them flying.

        There, ftfy - no need to thank me.

  20. Hairy Spod

    Fun Fact

    In yet another WWII related co-incidence I'm pretty sure the Belgrano was also sunk by a MK VIII WWII vintage torpedo.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Fun Fact

      It was a Mk8 , not sure if it was WW2 vintage though

      Dont ask how I know ...

      1. JJKing Silver badge
        IT Angle

        Re: Fun Fact

        Um, err......how do you know? :-)

    2. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Fun Fact

      Also of ex-USN WWII vintage were the submarine we sunk and the patrol boat that was subject to the Gotcha headline.

    3. lee harvey osmond

      Re: Fun Fact

      three weapon spread, Mark VIII** so two major updates to a weapon introduced in 1919 that saw us through WW2. Two hit, the third ran on and duplex-fused (ie, the magnetic influence thingy) near one of the two escorting destroyers, damaging its bow; it is because those ships thought they were under attack that they dudn’t loiter to pick up Belgrano survivors.

      The other weapon Wreford-Brown had available was the wire-guided Mark 24 Tigerfish. It is unclear whether he picked the Mark VIII** for its bigger warhead for attacking a WW2-era armoured target, or for general distrust of the Marconi-developed Mark 24, which at that time had a reputation for not working properly on account of being unfinished.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Fun Fact

        The other weapon Wreford-Brown had available was the wire-guided Mark 24 Tigerfish. It is unclear whether he picked the Mark VIII** for its bigger warhead for attacking a WW2-era armoured target, or for general distrust of the Marconi-developed Mark 24, which at that time had a reputation for not working properly on account of being unfinished.

        On the way back from the Falklands the RN fired five Tigerfish torpedoes at a static target hulk. 2 failed to function, 3 missed. One sees why the Mark VIII** was the favourite for shooting at a surface ship.

        Incidentally, the American Mk48 torpedo in it's original incarnation was also incapable of hitting a surface target. Both torpedoes were designed to hit submarines to be fair, so they might have been a bit more useful at doing that, but making submarines as targets is a bit expensive.

        The limitation was well known, which is why the RN was carrying the MkVIII** in the first place, which was later replaced with the sub launched Harpoon missile, and still later replaced with the Spearfish torpedo.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Fun Fact

          I've heard that one of the subs (Churchill?) wanted to get clearance to fire Harpoon at a target. As they were relying on a sonar hit at range and Harpoon will hit the first thing it sees when it turns its radar on they were strangely denied permission.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not only but also...

    Apparently HMS Conqueror was better known to the USN (and CIA) as the sub that hotfooted it from the Falklands War to the Soviet Union & pinched a towed hydrophone array off a moving, submerged soviet SSN sub without being detected and without the loss being recognised as theft.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm for attaching them to a Saturn V and blasting them into space. Out of sight , out of mind.

    1. Tom 64
      Windows

      "I'm for attaching them to a Saturn V"

      Great idea, the sun would be a pretty good way to dispose of this shit.

      Trouble is, what do you do if the rocket explodes on the launchpad?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "I'm for attaching them to a Saturn V"

        duck

  23. Milton Silver badge

    There is a cheaper way ...

    Pardon me if somone's already pointed this out, for it is kind of obvious: but there are several nuclear submarines which were messily and, um, involuntarily decommissioned lying around on the world's seabeds and none of them, so far as I am aware, is a significant environmental hazard.

    If we leave aside the poorer-quaity Soviet and Russian boats that went down, we have two American examples in the Atlantic, Thresher and Scorpion. Both broke up on their way down ("imploded", there being some debate even now as to whether had and how they suffered significant structural damage before this point), and are still lying in debris fields about two miles down—without, so far as we can trust the US Navy which conducts periodic monitoring of the environment, any significant radioactive pollution. At least one boat was also carrying nuclear warheads (two aboard Scorpion I believe).

    So the question becomes obvious. Why not fit a decommissioned sub for one final tow (or even as deck cargo; this can be done) to a deep ocean trench, ideally in a subduction zone, with any remaining secret tech removed and a pour of extra shielding around the reactor; then a controlled scuttle to fill it with water and sink it ('controlled': to equalise pressure internally and externally to prevent a catastrophic implosion), to send it down carefully forever*? Some trenches are over five miles deep. You'd need major nation-state resources to interfere with the wrecks in any way (and they won't have any interest in 50-year-old British sub tech) and there's not a chance in hell of any terrorist fishing out the spent nuclear fuel, especially since there would always be at least a satellite watch on the zone.

    Now you're talking just millions in disposal costs instead of billions, plus an annual maintenance fee for the next century to whichever nations are nearest the graveyard, by way of a thank you and for environmental monitoring etc. Everybody wins. It is entirely possible that this is less risky, and cleaner, than the fraught-with-risks process of attempting to extract spent fuel, store it, transport it, store it again and then—dispose of it where, and how? Deep-trench scuttling, unlike elaborate nuclear decommissioning/dismantling, can be done thousands of miles away from populations.

    If a 60s-era sub that imploded catastrophically and is lying 9,000 down in the Altantic isn't a hazard, you can surely contrive to achieve the same thing with a planned scuttling in a well-chosen spot? I suspect that, once the engineering details are figured out (I'm sure they can come up with better ideas than me), the practicalities and economics will speak for themselves and the solitary problem remaining will be a political one. They usually are. Perhaps the common and mutual interests of all powers who have deployed nuclear subs will for once coincide to overcome even the political crap?

    And of course, in a few hundred thousand years, the dead subs get subducted and end up buried deep inside the planet.

    * Anchor a steel cable to the bottom destination using lots of weight, with the other end at your tow/carrier ship. Run it through a hoop welded to the sub's dorsal area. Scuttle stem-heavy, having removed the diving planes for scrap, and let it down slowly to the exact resting place you want. Conceivably you could use cabling like this to ensure a really soft landing, even.

    1. jonathan keith

      Re: There is a cheaper way ...

      Yeah, but then you'd contravene the terms of the Benthic Treaty and anger the Deep Ones.

    2. The Nazz Silver badge

      Re: There is a cheaper way ...

      9,000 feet down you say?

      These subs can't be that long, i'd use the steel cabling to tie them all together, nose to tail, bow to stern, etc and scuttle the first one. Let that pull the others down with it. Dead of night, no one else would notice.

    3. JJKing Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: There is a cheaper way ...

      Next you'll be telling me that one or two plastic bags in the ocean will not cause any meaningful pollution.

  24. Mr Humbug

    Starships

    If the US can retrofit an SSBN with a hyperdrive then we should be able to do that too.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyage_of_the_Space_Bubble

  25. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Rosyth?

    "Most worryingly, the NAO also pointed out "the lack of berthing space within the Devonport dockyard","

    That could be a very big problem. After Scottish Independence (coming very soon) I doubt whether the Scots will be keen to keep England's radioactive junk, so they'll either end up paying a stonking annual rental bill for the berths, or will have to move the 6 subs down south somewhere. Lined up along the Embankment maybe?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Rosyth?

      Park 'em alongside the terrace at Westminster.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rosyth?

      Ah but they're part of the UK's radioactive junk, part of the price of taking some of the working bits of the RN is that they'd inherit some of the problem bits as well.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Rosyth?

      "I doubt whether the Scots will be keen to keep England's radioactive junk, "

      It's the UKs radioactive junk. An independent Scotland will be wanting "their" share of the UK armed forces so they get keep some of the crap as well.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Rosyth?

        Fair point. Scotland has 1/12 of the UK population so that's half a sub stays where it is, the other 5.5 go down to the embankment. I suggest the Scots keep the half without the reactor. Wales will happilly accept the conning tower as an attraction at Barry Island.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Rosyth?

          They also get 1/12 of the ones from Devonport too, so that's 1.667. Or are you saying Scotland only gets 1/12th of the armed forces and equipment that is currently based in Scotland?

          1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

            Re: Rosyth?

            Well, I suspect the Scots don't particularly want or need any new Trident subs, aircraft carriers, battle tanks or strike aircraft. Ditto Wales. The Irish manage to keep the Red Army out with a defence budget that is a fraction (per capita) of the UKs. I think Scotland and Wales will be wuite happy with something similar. If the English want to keep waving their nuclear willies that is up to them and their government.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Rosyth?

              A possible future independent Scotland will almost certainly be joining the EU, most likely as a new member with all that that entails. This includes being part of the EU-NATO strategic partnership which will require a contribution from Scotland. What form that takes and how much it will cost may well be open to debate, but it won't be zero.

              BTW, nice bit of re-direction there. Nuke subs, and the disposal thereof is still a shared UK responsibility as it was a shared cost and a shared defence. Scotland only went all green and anti nuclear long after they were built and deployed.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do we need submarines for a nuclear deterrent?

    It would save a lot of money if we put the missiles in individual floating silos. If the silos were lead-lined to protect against a first strike, anchored to the sea floor with some free tidal movement, but having neutral buoyancy to kept them underwater. Scatter the missiles around a few deep-water inlets that can be protected with anti-submarine nets (+ some decoy inlets). Should nobody survive a first strike to launch them, they could use a dead hand trigger.

    1. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: Do we need submarines for a nuclear deterrent?

      A non-moving nuclear silo is a sitting duck.

  27. steviebuk Silver badge

    I'll give you...

    ...£100 for the lot as scrap. Must be some copper in there somewhere. Then take it down the local scrap yard for a little profit for the rest.

    I'll get my coat.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: I'll give you...

      Good idea - should get a lot more than £100 for the easily accessible metal, then just dump the leftover bits in an old quarry somewhere.

  28. Mog_X

    Eject warp core?

    Why weren't these subs designed so the reactors could be just hoisted out without having to cut the entire thing in half?

    Starfleet (either the Enterprise or another ship) used to eject their warp core every other week, so the technique is well known......

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Eject warp core?

      Because subs operate under a lot of pressure, so it would introduce weak points, and cost. Plus you'd also need a method to disconnect all the plumbing and wiring so it could be ejected. And then do some hasty bouyancy compensation due to losing a large lump of mass.

      So chopping out the section is the simpler approach, especially as naval reactors are compact and can then fit on a barge, or even road for long term storage.. But that's the problem. Greens massively object to plans for burying radioactive waste. Then again, some of it is disposed of by turning it into depleted uranium ammo and dumped into various countries.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Eject warp core?

        Greens massively object to plans for burying radioactive waste.

        "Greens" in this case being a synonym for everyone living within 100 miles of a proposed waste dump.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Eject warp core?

          It's still mostly the Greens promoting rad-FUD. Stuff is radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years! Ohnoes! Fear the radiation! So use half-life to scare people, and ignore the fact that a long half-life means it's emitting less radiation, because physics. Something Greens are frequently unfamiliar with. Or familiar enough to outright distort the truth.

          Living near an underground depository would be a lot safer than living within 100 miles of Sellafield and it's aging storage facilities. There'd be plenty of safeguards between me and any alpha/beta/gamma emitters. Which in a lot of cases is medical waste. A lot of low-level radioactive stuff that's been previously fed to patients.

          And then there's the Green objections to proposed new nuclear power plants, probably because the renewable's lobby has deeper pockets, so they promote costly, unreliable stuff that was previously phased out at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.. And renewables have a far greater environmental and economic impact than modular 1GW reactors.

    2. EBG

      Re: Eject warp core?

      There is a difference between the reactor core and the reactor compartment. Cores were refueled in the past. The RC contains coolant circuits etc. and is essentially the middle section of the sub. Also, the massive (nuclear spec.) hammerhead crane at Devonport has now been dismantled.

  29. SNAFUology
    Meh

    Depleted Uranium Clean-up

    When after the first Gulf war & the US had to go in and clean up the remains of Iraqi tanks killed by depleted uranium projectiles - as it was injuring the people of that area, the clean-up crews were injured some quite severely by the nukes (depleted or not).

    I can therefore understand the cost - much to keep people out of harms way while carrying out the work, transporting for disposal & disposal.

    Australia had a low level transportation accident moving a some low grade fissionable material up the coast. Was too much trouble to recover from the van, turned over on it's side, so they buried it, van and all in the road, & then covered it over & re-surfaced the road - Many cannot even remember where the site was.

    I reckon we need a high temperature waste incinerator SHIP to sail of the coast and completely incinerate our low level medical waste.

  30. Compuserve User

    There is an alternative

    Twenty plus years ago I was working on a project to resolve the very same issues as presented in this article, unfortunately this location sits 50 miles away from Las Vegas. The project I am referring to was Yucca Mountain. Most of the infrastructure is still awaiting certification and the transport containers cannot be ruptured during an accident. The Las Vegas public doesn't know about the many nuclear underground tests that was on the site (more than you know). I'm sure some bright spark will come along and find a use for all those isotopes stuck somewhere, but I like to know where they are being stored.

    If Trump allows the repository licensing, there will be an alternative location for spent fuel rods. We just have to get this issue resolved, before all you lot starts glowing, and radiation exposure is a nasty way to die, especially from a dirty bomb. Pester your MP about it.

  31. HelpfulJohn

    Why waste them?

    They have been sitting there, quite safely, harmlessly and innocuously since the 1960's so they must be quite well-designed so why not use the damned things as power plants?

    Refuel them. Automate them to a high degree. Wire them into the Grid and drop them to the bottom of the loch they float around in. Instant, cheap nuclear power plants with no possible objecting from the tree-hugging whiners as the boats and their power plants are already in existence.

    Indeed, as they would be consuming radioactives, efficiently removing them from the universe forever, these re-purposed swords-to-ploughshare ex-weapon-systems would be actively *supporting* the Green Brigades and protecting the fluffy seals from nasty radioactive radiations.

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