Faslane Peace Camp
Story: Swimming to Trident. By Rick Springer (6 sep 98)


By Rick Paul Springer 

After walking a thousand kilometers with the Walk for Nuclear Disarmament 
from the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium to Faslane, Scotland, the 
home of the Trident nuclear weapons submarine, our 50 or so walkers joined 
the Trident Ploughshares 2000 camp to plan actions to disarm the Trident 
itself.  This is the story of the effort of the affinity group, Titanic 
Trident, who walked those thousand kilometers to board the Trident 
submarine and beat it, symbolically into a plough, a farm tool, and to beat 
it, in actuality in a way that would make it as useless as possible by 
Swimming to Trident. 
Please see the attached statement regarding why we are taking this action. 
Our group of 10, composed of 3 active disarmers willing to face serious 
jail consequences, 3 disarmers willing to cause damage with less severe 
consequences, a media person, a legal supporter and orbserver, and two 
supporters to cover loose ends, gather materials and see that out personal 
posessions were returned home, went to work immediately gathering 
information about the Trident submarine system. 
We learned that rather than de-escalate the nuclear threat at the end of 
the Cold War, the Trident fleet of four nuclear submarines represented a 
significant escalation, with missiles capable of longer distances, greater 
speed, more fire power, and more targets. 
We studied several possible ways to disarm the Trident system from Trident 
communications to missile loading equipment, from towed array used for 
sonar communications to the missile launch tubes.  We consulted local 
activists from the long standing Faslane Peace Camp who have attempted and 
succeeded at such actions in the past.  We learned of their successes and 
failures.  We took tours of the Gareloch and Faslane area where Clyde RN 
Submarine base is located and the Loch Long, home of RNAD Coulport, a 
weapons depot, where Trident missiles are loaded, unloaded and stored.  We 
studied the Tri-Denting It Handbook which was complete with maps of the 
bases, descriptions of the submarines and support systems, possible targets 
and nonviolence pledges. 
After a week of research we focused on the submarine, sitting in the water 
at Faslane itself and decided to approach by water.  Ministry of Defense 
officers later explained that even the summertime water temperature of the 
Gareloch is so cold that hypothermia and death happen in just fifteen 
minutes of exposure.  Choosing a water approach created an equipment list 
that took another three days organize.  We were fortunate that one of the 
affinity groups had arrived with a selection of wet suits, fins, masks, and 
snorkels.  We found the best fitting suits we could and completed our 
wardrobe with hammers, hacksaws, flares for emergency, and plastic jugs of 
tarry goo.  Our goal was to beat the missile tubes closed and pour tar into 
the same tubes so that missiles could not be launched. 
We performed a practice run at midnight on a clear and dreamy night across 
the bay from Faslane on the west bank of the Gareloch.  We tested the fit 
of our wetsuits and our ability to withstand the cold.  We swam up the bay 
as we studied the Faslane Bay and ship lift warehouse where the Trident is 
docked next to and sometimes dry docked for maintenance and repairs.  We 
stayed in the water for 45 minutes and felt as though we could double that 
time if we had to.  We decided to swim across the entire bay just after 
midnight three nights later because it was the longest approach and 
therefore the approach they would least expect. 
The three active disarmers were Krista Van Velzen, 23 of the Netherlands, 
Katri Silvonen, 18 of Finland and myself, Rick Springer, 47 of the United 
States.  The other action members of our team planned a fence entry to 
attempt a land approach of the Trident to increase our possible success 
from all sides. 
After a special 11:30 PM drop off, we dove down the bank to avoid being 
spotted by the constant Strathclyde police patrols.  We breathed deeply as 
we secured our weight belts, fins, hammers, flares and jugs of tar.  If our 
dreams were realized and we were actually successful at disarming the 
Trident we expected that we could be imprisoned for at least until our 
trial and, if we lost our trial, many years.   We entered the water at 
11:45 and a cold chill filled our wet suits as we lay down into the 
Gareloch.  We began swimming to Trident as Katri explained to me that she 
had never swam with flippers.  It seemed all in the Creators hands now. 
At about the center of the bay Krista pointed out a green light that just 
appeared on the west bank from which we had come.  She also noticed a red 
light on a boat moving up the side we had just departed.  "They must have 
spotted us," she commented.  I told her I suspected the green light was 
only a vector light, a navigational aid, and the boat was just coincidence 
but I became concerned myself when the boat seemed to be turning right 
towards us.  The concern of being run over had been considered and that 
coupled with possible hypothermia were the reasons we carried waterproof 
A bight spotlight landed 20 feet off the side of the boat descending upon 
us.  I suggested in a whisper that we take a deep breath and get ready to 
submerge.  I dipped under just as the spotlight hit my head and was amazed 
to look at my suited body fully lit up under  the water.  I rarely felt so 
exposed but as came to the surface I was amazed to see the 30 foot cabin 
cruiser search boat continue on while the diesel hummed.  Krista and Katri 
told me that they had come to the surface in the middle of the spotlight. 
I realized that the spotlight means nothing if there is not someone staring 
at it and after hours of cruising the bay staring at a spot of light must 
be mesmerizing.  The spotlight also destroys the viewers night vision so 
anything outside the light is nearly invisible. 
We began swimming again feeling somewhat more buoyant and excited.  The 
huge shiplift building loomed ahead for an eternity when suddenly the 
shadow of the boom surrounding Faslane Bay became visible.  The boom, a 
huge floating sausage connected to a huge round ball and then another 
sausage creating the inner bay, was only eighty yards off as a Zodaic 
inflatable came zooming in between us.  They shined their search light at 
the base of the boom but it seemed to me impossible for them to spot a 
swimmer at the speed they were going.  The sea birds resting on the boom 
squaked and resettled as the boat went by.  Our fears of being given away 
by squaking birds were calmed as we gently approached.  I cooed softly like 
a pigeon and they barely moved as we slid in between the sausage and ball, 
no netting, no trip wires.  We realized that we had made it to Faslane Bay. 
And there before us, only three or four hundred yards more swim was the 
evil Trident submarine, docked on the right side of the Shiplift building. 
The three of us gently cruised forward out into the bay when Krista noticed 
three tiny figures standing on the left front of the Shiplift.  They were 
so tiny, I was hoping she was wrong and they would prove to be just garbage 
on the dock but by the time we had covered half the bay to the Trident, we 
could see the glow of their cigarettes with each puff.  And then they moved. 
With the tremendous Las Vegas style lighting of Faslane, we could barely 
conceive that we had not been spotted.  Krista urged, "Let's go for it," 
and began swimming faster towards the Trident.  I slowed down, attempting 
to size up the situation and also responding to cramps in my calves.  I was 
shivering intensely by this time, my whole body shaking as I decided to 
swim wide of the shiplift hoping to stay out of sight range.  The women 
were 50 yards ahead and nearly touching the pilings of the dock when one of 
the three smokers yelled in a woman's voice, "H A L T!!!  H A L T !!!  I 
watched her run across the dock to the right side of the building and grab 
at a box.  When she came over to the edge of the dock her silhouette 
clearly held a machine gun type rifle.  She pointed it down at the Katri 
and Krista and continued screaming conflicting orders.   "Stay there!  Come 
here!"  At the same time more lights came on and a huge load speaker system 
announced in a booming voice,  "Bandits on the Base.  Bandits on the Base!" 
It was only a moment more before the female officer spotted me as I tried 
to swim around the melee.  She pointed the rifle my way but with my wet 
suit hood covering my ears, her voice was muffled and something told me she 
wouldn't shoot me as I continued swimming to Trident.  My partners had a 
better view of the woman with her rifle and remained floating at the bottom 
of the dock, their feet dangling in the water perhaps only five meters from 
the end of our goal. 
I continued swimming realizing now that with four or five short underwater 
bursts, I could slither out onto the back surfaced area, next to the rear 
fin and wings and perhaps have a chance to take a few delicious whacks at 
the beast before they whacked me.  In what seemed to be three minutes a 
zodiac came zooming out of the dark in back of the Trident.  They passed me 
to pick up the women and I made one underwater spurt, feeling my right calf 
cramping as I did.  I surfaced to see the Zodiac coming my way with Krista 
and Katri on board.  I had a dilemma.  I could evade the Zodiac and get to 
the Trident or I could surrender.  The nonviolence guidelines are quite 
clear that once spotted, running is prohibited, but swimming fast has yet 
to enter the anti-nuclear movement nonviolence bylaws.  	 
There is fine dance that happens in our effort to convert these missiles to 
farm tools.  It is a dance that happens when one human being makes a stand, 
looks another human being in the eye, and refuses violence.  I climbed into 
the Zodiac and when I stood up, the Navy seal slapped me on the arm and 
said, "Well, done man.   No one had ever gotten that close to a Trident 
before."  I remembered the old adage that "the best way to destroy your 
enemy is to make them your friend."  One friend by one friend we will 
disarm that Trident.  Keep swimming! 


In 1992 anti nuclear activist/author Rick Paul Springer appeared on stage 
with former President Ronald Reagan at the National Association of 
Broadcasters convention at the Las Vegas Hilton.  In an effort to announce 
the fire alarm on the nuclear industry he dashed a crystal eagle on a 
pedastal and approached the podium.  He announced, Excuse Me, Mr. 
President, which is now the title of his new book.  Excuse Me, Mr. 
President, The Message of the Broken Eagle may be viewed at or may be ordered through Broken Eagle Press  POB 402 
Arcata, Calif. 95518 USA. Phone 011-360-786-0783. 


Trident Ploughshares 2000 
42-46 Bethel Street 
NR2 1NR 

tel + 44 (0) 1603 611953 or 01263-512049 
fax + 44 (0) 1603 666879 

permanent office: 
TP2000 camp office: 

Nuclear weapons are immoral, dangerous, polluting, a terrible waste of 
resources and were found to be generally illegal by the International Court 
of Justice on 8th July 1996. 

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