UK - UPDATE 1-UK navy recalls 12 nuclear-powered subs for checks : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Britain"s Royal Navy said on Saturday it was recalling all its "hunter killer" nuclear powered submarines for safety checks. The decision, taken on Friday, came after experts examined HMS Tireless, a Trafalgar class submarine, which developed a leak in the cooling system of its nuclear reactor. Navy spokesman Lieutenant-Commander Jim Jenkin said all 12 submarines in the Trafalgar and Swiftsure classes, which are nuclear powered but conventionally armed, would be checked. Only two were currently deployed outside British waters and both those were returning to their bases, he said. Britain"s Labour government came under attack from opposition parties, who accused it of compromising the quality of arms procured in order to save money. "The difficulty is that defence is a very expensive business," Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Menzies Campbell told BBC radio. "If you want to have an expeditionary have got to accept that you need to have the equipment with which to carry that out and equipment is expensive." Jenkin said inspectors will examine a weld in the cooling system that appears to have caused Tireless, one of the navy"s newest subs, to break down in the Mediterranean in May. It was towed to the British colony of Gibraltar but repairs were delayed by protests in neighbouring Spain where politicians and environmentalists said the nuclear sub posed health risks. "A decision has been taken to effect a precautionary check on the other submarines in the UK flotilla that have similar reactor design, to see whether or not the defect is generic in nature or specific to Tireless," Jenkin said, confirming a front-page report in The Times newspaper. Britain"s four strategic deterrent submarines, armed with Trident nuclear ballistic missiles, are not affected because their reactors" design is different, he said. Britain"s submarine fleet has had a troubled year. Last month the Ministry of Defence said it had taken two ageing Swiftsure submarines -- HMS Sovereign and HMS Superb -- out of action after defects were found in a sister vessel, HMS Sceptre, in 1998.

-- Doris (, October 21, 2000

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