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British defense official confirms second Trident test launch failure since 2016

Unarmed nuclear missile is said to have fallen into ocean after launch off Florida coast in January

British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps Wednesday confirmed a Trident submarine nuclear missile test (such as a U.S. one pictured in 2016) failed off the coast of Florida Jan. 30. He reassured lawmakers there are no implications for the reliability of the wider Trident missile systems. File Photo by John Kowalski/U.S. Navy
British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps Wednesday confirmed a Trident submarine nuclear missile test (such as a U.S. one pictured in 2016) failed off the coast of Florida Jan. 30. He reassured lawmakers there are no implications for the reliability of the wider Trident missile systems. File Photo by John Kowalski/U.S. Navy

Feb. 21 (UPI) -- British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps on Wednesday confirmed that he and other leaders were aboard a Trident submarine when the test launch of a Trident II 5 nuclear missile failed January 30 off the coast of Florida.

It was the second consecutive British Trident test launch failure since another one failed to launch in 2016.

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"On this occasion, an anomaly did occur, but it was event specific and there are no implications for the reliability of the wider Trident missile systems and stockpiles," Shapps told lawmakers. "Nor are there any implications for our ability to fire our nuclear weapons, should the circumstances arise in which we need to do so."

The Sun newspaper reported Tuesday night that the launch of an unarmed Trident missile from the HMS Vanguard failed and "plopped" back into the ocean.

"It left the submarine but it just went plop, right next to them," the Sun reported, citing an unnamed source.

According to the BBC a prior test in 2016, also off Florida's Atlantic coast, veered off course. Each missile costs $20 million.

Former activist David Cullen, director of the British group Nuclear Information Service, told CBS News Wednesday, "The U.K.'s nuclear weapons program is not functioning and needs an urgent rethink. This failure has happened with a backdrop of the navy struggling to maintain [Trident submarine] patrols and ballooning costs."

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British Shadow Defense Secretary John Healey called the test failure "concerning."

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