The 'Solar Victory' exercise took place in October 2008 and was organised by the Ministry of Defence Police in the South Yorkshire area. The exercise was part of the Home Office 'New Salesman' series of counter-terrorism exercises, and the exercise was based on a scenario relating to a terrorist attack on a nuclear weapons convoy travelling through the area.
The exercise brought together 265 delegates from around 20 agencies over two days, with the first day testing crisis management issues and the second day focusing on dealing with the aftermath of the incident.
The exercise highlighted a number of difficulties in dealing with an emergency involving a nuclear weapons convoy. A major concern was dealing with an incident on a busy motorway away from an urban centre – with fire brigades concerned about how to get water to the scene and local authority emergency planners concerned about the evacuation of stranded motorists from the motorway. There was also little awareness among civilian emergency planners of MoD guidance on dealing with an accident involving nuclear weapons, which is published in the Local Authorities and Emergency Service Information (LAESI) guidelines (available for download at the bottom of this article). The Ministry of Defence Police noted that there is “a lot of work for MDP / NWIPT [Ministry of Defence Police and the MoD's Nuclear Weapons Integrated Project Team] to do in educating Home Office / Scottish Office Police forces on the task requirements and expectations during routine moves or major incidents.”
Communication over the more technical aspects of dealing with an emergency involving a nuclear weapon was also a problem, with AWE representatives at the exercise noting that “Further work is needed with fire brigade to ensure availability of support at accident scene”, and Fire and Rescue Service representatives concluding that there was “still considerable misunderstanding” of how information flows work.
Download copies of the post-exercise report for Exercise Solar Victory 08 and the MoD LAESI guidelines for responding to an accident during the transport of nuclear weapons here: