Trident nuclear warheads are transported around Britain between the places of manufacture – at AWEs Aldermaston and Burghfield in southern England – to the storage and loading facilities at Coulport in Scotland, for deployment on Britain's four Trident nuclear submarines.
Warheads are moved in convoys with military personnel and support vehicles. See pictures on the right.
You can read annual statistics about warhead movements by visiting the Nukewatch pages.
Here is an October 2002 update:
2002 Truck Cargo Heavy Duty (TCHD) WARHEAD CONVOY
Convoy Analysis January – October 2002
There have been 4 convoys taking warheads from AWE Burghfield to Coulport. Two warhead convoys were close together in June and July, suggesting that these three-carrier convoys were not fully loaded, possibly to give the new Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) control on-task training. The prior number of Special Nuclear Material (SNM) convoys into Burghfield also suggests that only about four warheads were ready for transport to Scotland by July. Since then, 4 SNMs into Burghfield suggest the October Scottish convoy contained a full load of four warheads. 6 convoys have brought warheads back to AWE for servicing or replacement.
Ministry of Defence Police Control (MDP)
MDP have been fully in control of the convoy since March, although a naval officer is present as the service user. Some variations in timing have occurred, with more delays and longer lunch breaks than previously taken under RAF command.
AWE Aldermaston Vehicle Base
The move to garage and service TCHD convoy vehicles at AWE Aldermaston was completed by April as expected.
Nuclear Accident / Terrorist Attack Exercise
On 30th July, the MOD confirmed in a parliamentary answer to Alan Simpson MP, that an exercise took place in May in East Anglia. The answer states that it was "no formal exercise", and that "the details of this operational training are classified".
Exercises dates in the second half of 2002:
August in Leicestershire
September in Northamptonshire
October in Norfolk
October in Suffolk
No dates for 2003 are available yet.
Local Authority & Emergency Services Information (LAESI) & REPPIR
In answer to another parliamentary question from Alan Simpson, the following answer on LAESI was given:
"LAESI neither provided safety guidelines or regulations on contingency arrangements for accidents during the transport of nuclear weapons, special nuclear materials and new and used submarine reactor fuel (known collectively as Defence Nuclear Materials). Our arrangements, as detailed in LAESI, have regard to all current statutory requirements,
including Radiation (Emergency Preparedness & Public Information) Regulations (REPPIR), and are kept under regular review".
October 2002 Summary
Loaded convoys of 3 TCHDs were on the road between January and October 30 times, compared with 29 in the whole of 2001 and 21 in 2000. There have been 16 unladen convoys compared with 31 in 2001 and 29 in 2000. This reflects the amount of MDP training in unladen convoys in 2001 and the Chevaline decommissioning programme in 2000; the accident/ terrorist exercise in May is included in the 2002 figures.