Britain’s nuclear sub has 2nd failed missile launch

LONDON — British lawmakers want answers after a missile test-launched by one of the country’s Trident nuclear submarines reportedly misfired and “plopped” into the ocean instead.

The Sun newspaper reported Tuesday night that Defense Secretary Grant Shapps was on board HMS Vanguard, one of four British nuclear-powered subs, to witness the botched Jan. 30 test launch off the coast of Florida.

The Ministry of Defense admitted in a statement that an “anomaly” had occurred, but said the test had “reaffirmed the effectiveness of the U.K.’s nuclear deterrent.”

The opposition Labour Party is pressing for an explanation, and an update to MPs on the nuclear deterrent program is expected Wednesday.

“It left the submarine but it just went plop, right next to them,” an unnamed source cited by the Sun said of the launch. The paper reported that the sub was fitted with dummy warheads during the test.

The Ministry of Defense said in its statement that HMS Vanguard passed “all tests during a recent demonstration and shakedown operation (DASO) — a routine test to confirm that the submarine can return to service following deep maintenance work.”

The statement went on: “The test has reaffirmed the effectiveness of the U.K.’s nuclear deterrent, in which we have absolute confidence. During the test an anomaly occurred. 

“As a matter of national security, we cannot provide further information on this, however we are confident that the anomaly was event specific, and therefore there are no implications for the reliability of the wider Trident missile systems and stockpile.”

Tests of the U.K.’s Trident nuclear system are rare — with the last one taking place in 2016. But that launch also ended in failure after the missile veered off course.

Shapps’s opposite number, the Shadow Defense Secretary John Healey, described the missile failure as “concerning” and called for the defense secretary to “reassure Parliament that this test has no impact on the effectiveness of the U.K.’s deterrent operations.”