Failure to meet quality standards 'led to submarine corrosion'

19 November 2012

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

A failure to adhere to strict manufacturing quality standards appears to have been responsible for the deterioration of UK submarines, a leaked memo has claimed.

Written by an official at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the confidential communique suggested corrosion was the result of cuts to budgets at the department.

The senior MoD analyst explained in the memo that there have been substantial problems with initial sea trials of the new hunter-killer submarines in relation to quality assurance standards.

According to the expert, quality controls have been ignored when it comes to producing the vessels and this is a "cause for major concern" with regards to reliability and performance, the Guardian reports.

HMS Astute has been undergoing testing, but the analyst suggested there could be "severe problems" in the future because of corrosion on board the submarines, which may affect the life of components.

It is the first of a planned fleet of seven such models. However, the June memo, which was sent to a series of leading MoD chiefs, said: "It seems a decision has been taken to keep the painting to a minimum in Astute class build to reduce costs?"

The MoD has admitted there have been problems relating to corrosion identified during sea trials, but stressed that such flaws can be addressed and should not affect any more vessels in the fleet.

Further quality problems could emerge within the MoD as a key figure has warned the Government budgetary cuts mean that the Armed Forces will not be able to fulfil ministers' demands.

General Sir David Richards, UK Chief of the Defence Staff, explained that pressure on the military has not been reassessed despite cuts to spending imposed by the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Speaking to the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford University, he stated: "Our political masters are quite happy to reduce the size of the Armed Forces, but their appetite to exercise influence on the world stage is, quite understandably, the same as it has always been."

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