THE SNP has accused the UK Government of having “underfunded” the Ministry of Defence after it was revealed more than 500 safety incidents have taken place on board two Royal Navy aircraft carriers.

Nicola Sturgeon’s party has called for funding pledged to renew the nuclear weapons Trident system to be redirected to give the armed forces “the funding they need and deserve”.

The call comes after a Freedom of Information request found a total of 464 “safety-related events” have taken place on board the HMS Queen Elizabeth since being commissioned into service in December 2017.

HMS Prince of Wales, which was commissioned into service in December 2019, has recorded an additional 99 safety incidents.

The Ministry of Defence said it was unable to reveal the nature of all incidents but confirmed they “included fires, floods, equipment issues and personal injuries”.





Officials at the MoD said “it is accepted that release of such information would provide public reassurance

that all safety related incidents are investigated thoroughly”, adding that

it would “ensure lessons are learned to avoid similar occurrences in the future”.

The MoD said that to release the full details of the safety incidents “would prove extremely useful to hostile powers and groups in enabling them to target, disrupt and degrade our future performance and activities, and affect

a crucial element of armed forces capability”.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the Royal Navy’s largest and most powerful vessel. The Portsmouth-based warship is capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft and the vessel features state-of-the-art weaponry and communications systems. It also contains five gyms, a chapel and a medical centre for the crew.

The ship’s flight deck covers four acres and is used to launch the new

F35 joint strike fighter fast jets. In just one minute, four fighter jets can be deployed from the hanger to the flight deck on the vessel.

HMS Queen Elizabeth’s two propellers weigh 33 tonnes each, with the powerplant behind them generating enough power to run 1,000 family cars.

The flight deck of HMS Prince of Wales measures 280 metres in length while the vessel holds 45 days’ worth of food in stores. The ship will have a minimum crew of about 700 people, which increases to about 1,600 with aircraft on board.

HMS Prince of Wales can embark 36 F-35B and four Merlin helicopters.

The MoD said that “for both ships, it should be noted a considerable proportion of incidents are minor in nature but are required to be captured and reported under health and safety at work act and MoD safety regulations”.

SNP MSP Bill Kidd, said: “For years the Tories have under-funded the Ministry of Defence, cutting military personnel, closing barracks and slashing budgets. For all their claims to be the party of defence and security, the Tories have got a dreadful track record in giving our armed forces the funding it needs – you cannot build ships with empty promises.

“Despite that, they continue to pump billions of pounds every year into obscene nuclear weapons on the Clyde – billions that could be spent on giving our service personnel the funding they need and deserve.

“This demonstrates once again that you cannot trust the Tories to invest in the people of Scotland. We must be able to choose a different path through independence.”

Last month, the MoD refuted reports that three Scottish barracks could close earlier than previously anticipated as part of cost-cutting measures.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: “We provide world-class training to maintain the highest standards in an environment that can be dangerous and unforgiving.

“When incidents occur, no matter how minor, they are investigated thoroughly so we can help prevent them from happening again.”

Last week, it emerged a visit by Prince Charles to HMS Queen Elizabeth was cancelled by the MoD “for operational reasons” after one of the ship’s stealth planes crashed on Wednesday.