THE SNP will attempt to force the UK Government to make a statement on the condition of the nuclear infrastructure on the River Clyde amid concerns it is dangerous and “rotting”.

Martin Docherty-Hughes, the party’s defence spokesperson at Westminster, said they would be lodging an urgent question after Dominic Cummings raised the alarm over the state of military infrastructure at Faslane and Coulport.

The decision on whether to grant the urgent question will be taken by the Speaker on Monday. Defence questions are due to be heard the same day, but Docherty-Hughes said the matter warranted “more than just a quick two-second question”.

“I can't imagine the government would voluntarily give a statement. I can’t imagine that at all,” the MP for West Dunbartonshire told The National.

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“But if we get an urgent question – I would hope that the Speaker would see this as a matter of urgency – we're talking about the possibility of some type of nuclear incident.

“This needs a formal statement given the possible implications.

“We've had a running narrative of issues at both Faslane and Coulport. We've seen the extended missions that the Vanguard are taking, the condition that they're coming home in.”

In September, one of the UK’s “Vanguard class” of nuclear submarines returned from a patrol of longer than six months. Defence commentators noted it had been a massive increase on the three-month missions they had previously been asked to complete.

Further, the returning submarine was seen missing exterior tiles and covered in marine growth “to an extent that had not been seen before”, Navy Lookout reported.

The National:

The reason for the extended missions is thought to be that, of the four Vanguard class submarines, only three are currently seaworthy. The pressure placed on the remaining vehicles only compounds the issues of an aging fleet.

The four Vanguard-class nuclear submarines based at Faslane either commenced sea trials or saw their reactor go critical in 1992, 1994, 1996, and 1999, according to figures provided to MPs by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2007.

The submarines each had a 25-year lifespan, limited by the lifespan of major components, meaning even the latest to begin operations would expire this year.

The Government noted in 2007 that it “should be possible” to extend these lifespans by five years to a total of 30.

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Docherty-Hughes raised concerns that the UK Government is not taking the issue as seriously as it should.

“It's as though, ‘let's just ignore it and it'll go away’,” he said. “I doubt though that they would ignore it if it was on the banks of the Thames.

“For them, Faslane and Coulport, 20 miles from the center of Glasgow, is out of sight, out of mind. It certainly isn't out of sight, out of mind for me. It’s not out of sight, out of mind for my constituents.”

The issue of an aging fleet nearly led to “the worst Royal Navy disaster since World War Two” in 2022, the UK Defence Journal reported.

A broken depth gauge on one of the submarines meant the crew was continuing to descend despite unknowingly approaching “crush depth”.

The consequences of reaching such a depth were globally seen in June 2023 after the OceanGate Titan submersible (below) imploded on a dive to the Titanic.

The National: The submersible Titan, which is used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic (OceanGate/PA)

The concerns about the state of the UK’s nuclear submarine fleet came to fresh attention after Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, claimed he had made addressing it a key requisite for accepting an offer to work with Rishi Sunak.

Cummings further claimed that the nuclear infrastructure was “rotting” and a “budget nightmare of hard-to-believe and highly classified proportions … which has forced large secret cannibalisation of other national security budgets”.

In December, the FT reported that the MoD was facing a £17bn “black hole” in its equipment budget.

Docherty-Hughes said that the US and France, Nato’s only other nuclear powers, had “far more robust oversight” of their defence budgets.

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“This could have huge ramifications if there is not more openness,” he said. “You get that in the United States, it's far more open when it comes to issues like this. It has its own huge, vast nuclear arsenal and it's not a problem for them. Why is it a problem for the MoD?

“It's a problem for the MoD because they clearly have lost control of their budget and they don't know how to overcome it. To me this stinks of the fact that they're just embarrassed that they have let it get completely out of control.”

HM Naval Base, Clyde, at Faslane on the west coast of Scotland is home to the UK’s nuclear submarines.

The nearby armaments depot at Coulport is responsible for storing, processing, maintaining and issuing key elements of the UK’s Trident nuclear missile system.

An MoD spokesperson said: "We have absolute confidence in our nuclear deterrent and our ability, along with our Nato allies and partners, to deter the most extreme threats to our collective security and way of life.

“The UK is committed to a significant modernisation of our nuclear forces.

“As announced in the 2023 Integrated Review Refresh, an additional £3bn will be invested in the defence nuclear enterprise over the financial years 2023/24 and 2024/25, which will support areas including industrial infrastructure at Barrow, Derby and the Atomic Weapons Establishment.”