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|Thursday, November 02, 2000, updated at 08:46(GMT+8)|
Seven Britain Nuclear Submarines Still Have FlawsBritain said on Wednesday that seven of its 12 nuclear-powered submarines, currently all docked for checks, had shown signs of cooling system flaws while the other five have been cleared of any fault.
"The inspections have shown that there is no evidence of this problem in five submarines," Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon told parliament.
The checks were called following the discovery of a fault in the cooling system of Submarine Tireless, which has been stranded in Gibraltar, a British colony at the southern tip of Spain, since May.
Four of the cleared submarines were still undergoing separate repairs but a fifth, the Triumph, which has the capability to launch Tomahawk missiles, will return to operational duty shortly, Hoon said.
"In the short term, the Triumph's availability means that we are much better placed to conduct operations, including those in support of the (nuclear) deterrent," Hoon said.
Local reports said the seven Trafalgar and Swiftsure class submarines which showed signs of flaws in their cooling system are nuclear powered but conventionally armed.
Hoon said he aimed to have a recovery program in place for the seven submarines by the end of November.
But Armed Forces Minister John Spellar said last week that repairs of the vessels could take months.
The Defense Ministry had earlier made it clear that Britain's four strategic deterrent submarines, armed with Trident nuclear ballistic missiles, were not affected by the faults.
But a front-page report in The Times newspaper said last week that the recalling of the 12 submarines meant that Britain "is to be left without its strike forces of nuclear submarines" for the coming months.
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