Astute problems down to cuts

Astute problems the result of cuts warn defence specialists

Commenting on reports that the Royal Navy’s Astute class submarines are riddled with design, performance and safety flaws, Prospect says it has warned the department for years that it was taking on huge risks by cutting its in-house technical and quality assurance teams.

National Secretary Steve Jary said: “MOD's chickens are coming home to roost. There have been rumours about problems fizzing around the department since HMS Astute started its sea trials. It seems there has been a systemic failure in the scrutiny and quality assurance of this procurement.

“Prospect has warned the government that it is taking huge risks with cuts to specialist staff in the department. There is a chilling resonance between this and the analysis of the Charles Haddon-Cave report into the loss of Nimrod XV230 in 2006, which blamed the disaster on a culture of cost-cutting over that of safety. Sadly, the department seems not to have learned the lessons from that tragic episode.

“The cuts are short-sighted and, at best, will end up costing the taxpayer billions. At worst, they could cost lives. MOD is no longer able to supervise the construction of submarines effectively. As a consequence, it is accepting both significant risk and significantly increased costs.

“Now that the department has been alerted to systemic failures in quality assurance within BAE Systems and the loss of in-house intelligent customer capability within MOD, Prospect urges the department to rethink its cuts strategy now, before tragedy strikes. Nuclear submarines need 100 per cent quality assurance,” said Jary.