AFP, LONDON: Crew members on a British nuclear submarine rebelled and refused to go to sea after a series of technical faults persuaded them the craft was unsafe, a report said on Wednesday.
In all, 11 crew face possible court martial after refusing to go on a trial voyage with HMS Trafalgar, which had just undergone major repairs following an accident, the Daily Mirror reported.
Up to 60 other sailors and officers attached to the submarine had also complained that the refitted craft was riven with potentially serious technical faults, including with its nuclear reactor, the paper said.
However Britain's Ministry of Defence denied that there had been any sort of mutiny, saying the submarine's commanding officer had permitted the 11 sailors to leave the boat due to their feelings.
“It is true that a number of them expressed concerns, and the commanding officer made a decision to allow them to go ashore given the concerns that they were expressing,” a spokesman told AFP.
“He assessed it was prudent to land them and temporarily replace them.”
The spokesman added: “But it is certainly not the case that this is a mutiny. They did not disobey orders.”
He additionally rejected charges that the Trafalgar was unsafe in any way.
“The Navy wouldn't send a submarine to sea unless it was confident it was safe to do so,” he said.
According to the Daily Mirror, the crew members became particularly worried after a pair of gas leaks on board last week as the submarine prepared to set out to sea following the repairs, needed after it ran aground in late 2002.
One “naval source” told the paper that the Trafalgar was a safety risk on a par with Russian submarine the Kursk, which was lost in August 2000 with the loss of 118 lives.
“The sub is a potential death trap. It's a ticking time bomb. If anything went wrong there'd be a massive disaster just like the Kursk,” the source told the paper.
“And it's all because so many corners have been cut.”