Staff, BBC News
18 May 2015
A Royal Navy submariner has defended his criticism of safety procedures around the Trident nuclear submarines and revealed he will hand himself over to the authorities within days.
William McNeilly went on the run after alleging the Trident programme was a "disaster waiting to happen."
Able Seaman McNeilly said: "Other people need to start coming forward."
The Royal Navy said that the Clyde-based submarine fleet operated "under the most stringent safety regime."
An official investigation has been launched after Mr McNeilly, from Belfast, raised his safety concerns in an internet post.
He said he was an Engineering Technician Submariner who was on patrol with HMS Victorious this year.
Mr McNeilly has written an 18-page report, called The Secret Nuclear Threat, detailing what he claims are serious security and safety breaches on board the vessel.
'Serving the people'
Speaking to the BBC, he said: "I'm not hiding from arrest; I will be back in the UK in the next few days and I will hand myself in to the police."
He said prison would be "such a nice reward for sacrificing everything to warn the public and government".
And he added: "Unfortunately that's the world we live in. I know it's a lot to sacrifice and it is a hard road to walk down, but other people need to start coming forward.
"Now I have no career, no money, no freedom, no chance of spending quality time with my family and friends. But I also have no regrets. There is no better feeling than truly serving the people.
"Finding this path wasn't hard, given the circumstances it was practically illuminating. I have faith that one day the people with the power to make a difference will understand where I'm coming from, and start working towards creating a better world."
The Royal Navy confirmed that Mr McNeilly was a member of the naval service, and that it was concerned for his wellbeing and working closely with civilian police to locate him.
A Navy spokesman said: "The Royal Navy takes security and nuclear safety extremely seriously and we are fully investigating both the issue of the unauthorised release of this document and its contents.
"The naval service operates its submarine fleet under the most stringent safety regime and submarines do not go to sea unless they are completely safe to do so."
The spokesman also said the Navy "completely disagreed" with Mr McNeilly's report, claiming that it "contains a number of subjective and unsubstantiated personal views, made by a very junior sailor."
However, they added that it was "right" that the contents of the document were considered in detail.
Mr McNeilly has said his aim was "to break down the false images of a perfect system that most people envisage exists".
Incidents the 25-year-old included in his report varied from complaints about food hygiene to failures in testing whether missiles could safely be launched or not.
He described security passes and bags going unchecked at the Faslane submarine base on the Clyde, alarms being muted "to avoid listening" to them, and stories of fires starting in missile compartments.
Mr McNeilly said he raised these and other concerns through the chain of command on multiple occasions, but that "not once did someone even attempt to make a change."
He insisted that he has been careful about the information he had chosen to release so as to avoid prejudicing security.
Speaking from a secret location, the submariner said: "Nuclear weapons have served a purpose in history. They maintain peace through fear alone. That peace can no longer be maintained by nuclear weapons... anyone who reads the report or has knowledge of the system will see that.
"The world is constantly evolving. We face a new threat now. Every great nation on this planet has been infiltrated by terrorists; even the systems have come extremely close to causing a catastrophe themselves, on numerous covered up occasions.
"You don't have to be Alexander the Great to see the lack strategy in keeping these systems, that are tremendously destructive and extremely open to attack, on our homeland. "
The SNP's Westminster leader Angus Robertson said the report read as "a nightmare catalogue of serious safety breaches aboard and alongside these nuclear armed submarines" and called for the Ministry of Defence to make public the results of its investigation.
He added: "Failure to follow standard safety procedures is unacceptable in any workplace but on a Vanguard submarine on patrol it could result in extreme tragedy not just for those on board but indeed for the entire planet."