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Trident nuclear missile test from HMS Vanguard fails

HMS Vanguard is the lead boat of a four-strong class of Trident-armed SSBNs whose role is to provide the UK's strategic nuclear deterrent. (UK MoD)

The test firing of an unarmed Trident II D5 missile from one of the UK Royal Navy's (RN's) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) has failed, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed.

During the test launch, which took place from HMS Vanguard (S28) off the US eastern seaboard on 30 January, an “anomaly” occurred, an MoD spokesperson told Janes .

“As a matter of national security, we cannot provide further information on this, however, we are confident that the anomaly was event-specific, and therefore there are no implications for the reliability of the wider Trident missile systems and stockpile. The UK's nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure, and effective,” the spokesperson said.

Vanguard, which had recently completed a seven-year deep maintenance and refuelling period at Babcock International's Devonport Royal Dockyard facility in Plymouth, carried out the missile demonstration in the US as the final step in its post-refit trials programme before being returned to operations.

The MoD spokesperson said that despite the misfiring, the submarine and its crew “have been proven fully capable of operating the UK's Continuous At-Sea Deterrent [CASD], passing all tests during the recent Demonstration and Shakedown Operation [DASO] – a routine test to confirm that the submarine can return to service following deep maintenance work”. The spokesperson added, “The test has reaffirmed the effectiveness of the UK's nuclear deterrent, in which we have absolute confidence.”

The last UK Trident test, which was carried out from the SSBN HMS Vengeance

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