2017: CIA files: US & Soviet nuclear submarines’ collision off the coast of Scotland nearly sparked a global war
Newly declassified CIA files indicate that a US submarine laden with 160 warheads collided with a Soviet vessel off the coast of Scotland in 1974. Experts say it could easily have caused nuclear war. The files seem to confirm the long-rumoured Cold War incident occurred near Holy Loch, Argyll, where the US once had a permanent nuclear base. Chillingly, the crash took place just 30 miles (48 km) off the coast of Glasgow. While the US never officially confirmed the crash had taken place, the documents show it was reported at the highest levels at the time in a memo to Henry Kissinger – then Secretary of State to President Gerald Ford – on November 3, 1974.
The memo told Kissinger: “Have just received word from the Pentagon that one of our Poseidon submarines has just collided with a Soviet submarine.
“The SSBN James Madison was departing Holy Loch to take up station when it collided with a Soviet submarine waiting outside the port to take up trail.
“Both submarines surfaced and the Soviet boat subsequently submerged again. There is no report yet of the extent of damage. Will keep you posted,” the message assured Kissinger.
Experts said that in the confusion of the collision it is perfectly feasible a war could have been sparked.
“The James Madison was a ballistic missile submarine armed with 16 Poseidon missiles with 160 nuclear warheads,” nuclear weapons expert Hans Kristensen told the Times.
In the worst case scenario, the collision could have triggered explosions that ignited the ballistic missile fuel and ejected or destroyed the warheads, said Kristensen.
There was also a clear possibility for a war “if the crew on one of the submarines had misinterpreted the collision as an attack and decided to defend itself and sink the other submarine,” he added.
The revelation comes just days after it emerged a British test-fired Trident missile veered off course towards Florida during an exercise in June 2016.
The Holy Loch A Local Reports On The UK Government Red Herring
The Scottish press advised the public that resources would be deployed, (long after the US navy had gone) to clear debris left on the bottom of the loch by US nuclear submarine maintenance.
But they were looking for something else in the Holy Loch and they soon found it. Their fleet of cleaning ships left suddenly after a few days.
Earlier, in the course of a conversation with the local media a previous US base commander had strongly advised that they should support calls for the sea bed to be left alone after the US submarines had gone.
Some time after all shellfish in or around the Holy Loch died suddenly for no apparent reason. Strangely the sea bed in Rothesay Bay is probably more of a midden than the Holy Loch due to the many years it was a naval base but there has never been a suggestion that it needed cleaning up. The incidence of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and other leukaemia’s and cancers around the Holy Loch in the last two decades is reported to be three times the national incidence. The BBC made a film called “Tin Fish” starring Emma Thompson on the Holy Loch (written I think by Paul Murton from this area whose brother died very young of leukaemia) which dealt with the cancer threat of nuclear submarine bases but the the entire political content of the film was edited out before it was broadcast. I know. all of this because the hotel I owned was the base used for the film
Is there a Sunken Nuclear Submarine or Some Other Nuclear Debris Resting at the bottom of the Holy Loch?
A frightening thought. One wonders what is lying at the bottom of the lochs near hand the Clyde. I used to visit Rothesay as a young lad. My memories are of a paradise. The water was a clear blue, and we played happily in it for many hours in the course of the day. A walk along the shore was an adventure, there was an abundance of sea life to wonder at and collect for eating later. Today the island is a very sad place, having been on the receiving end of a constant battering for the last 50 years. The environment might never recover from the excesses of the military occupation of the lochs and ports. What is sad is that the Scottish public will not exercise their vote and bring about independence, and it is only that which will guarantee our children a future free of the aftermath of nuclear weaponry, even it remains unused.
November 1985 Hansard: Nuclear Defence Installations: Cancer Incidences
Question: To ask Her Majesty’s Government: Whether they are aware of reports that:
(i) in the vicinity of the US submarine base at Holy Loch, the cancer rate among under 25s is three times the Scottish average.
(ii) in the vicinity of Rosyth where Polaris submarines are refitted, leukaemia in under 15s is three times the Scottish average
(iii) there is an exceptionally high rate of cleft palate and hare lip among children of crewmen of the first Polaris submarine “Resolution”; and whether they will initiate public inquiries in any of these cases.
Answer: The Government are aware of the reports to which the noble Lord has referred and will consider any relevant information put to them relating to the incidence of cancer or hereditary conditions in these areas
Incidences of note
In 1978 high levels of Cobalt-60 were discovered in the Holy Loch.
In October 1985 two lorries carrying Polaris warheads collided at Helensburgh.
There is a high incidence of fires and mishaps at both Coulport and Faslane and the frequent use of fire engines and other emergency vehicles.
There are known leaks of radiation from working submarines (for instance from a Polaris submarine on patrol in June 1994) and there are the known accidents, leaks and routine venting of radioactive materials that occurs in the nuclear reactors that provide materials for the subs, for instance the tritium discharges at Chapelcross.
There are many incidents of bombs being dropped whilst being hoisted into position. In 1981 at the Holy Loch, a Poseidon missile containing 10 warheads was being winched into the submarine USS Holland when the winch ran free and the missile fell 17 feet and smashed into the side of the USS Los Angeles. Detonation of the warhead trigger system, which very luckily did not occur this time, could have dispersed plutonium dust as far as the centre of Glasgow. (tridentploughshares.org).
Nuclear Link That Radiates Real Fear
Near the US nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, it has been found that at Dunoon and the loch-side villages the death rate from cancer among people under 25 is three times the Scottish average, and the death rate from leukaemia among children under 15 is over five times the Scottish average. Another survey conducted among the families of officers and men who had served on nuclear submarines found an unusually high proportion of children borne by their wives after such service had a cleft palate or hare-lip.
Radiation kills, maims, and causes unquantifiable genetic damage. It is impossible for the nuclear industry or the Government to sustain any longer their claim that child cancers around nuclear sites is just coincidence. And, for that reason alone, the extension of nuclear power is an unacceptable price to pay in damaging and painfully killing increasing numbers of people. (Michael Meacher Minister of State, Labour).