The annual summary of UK nuclear warhead convoy movements published by Nukewatch for 2010 shows that the UK's nuclear warhead programme is currently operating a baseline level, with a minimum number of warhead movements taking place over the year. The number of movements is consistent with the maintenance and surveillance needs of the programme. As well as convoy movements carrying nuclear weapons, a number of training exercises and vehicle familiarisation journeys also took place in 2010.
The Nukewatch report was compiled on the basis of spottings of nuclear convoys recorded by members of the organisation during 2010. Annual reports on convoy movements from Nukewatch are one of the few independent benchmarks which can be used to validate government statements on the size and status of the UK nuclear arsenal.
The Strategic Defence and Security Review published in October 2010 announced that the government intends to reduce both the number of nuclear warheads deployed on Vanguard class submarines and the size of the UK's nuclear warhead stockpile. An upturn in warhead convoy numbers may be observed over the next couple of years as warheads are withdrawn from service and dismantled.
New specialist trucks for transporting nuclear warheads are scheduled to enter into service in summer 2011 after the safety case for the vehicles has been approved in June. The new trucks will also be used to transport cargoes of special nuclear materials when the high security vehicles currently used for this purpose are retired from service in spring 2012.
A copy of the Nukewatch annual summary of warhead convoy movements can be downloaded here: