[ISN] Security a bridge too far
isn at c4i.org
Thu Jun 1 01:47:15 EDT 2006
By ALEX PEAKE
May 31, 2006
THE Sun yesterday exposed security at Britain's biggest naval base as
a shambles after strolling unchallenged on to the bridge of a WARSHIP.
Our reporter walked through two checkpoints at Plymouth's HM Devonport
- brandishing a worker's lost photo ID - before spending an hour on
board the Navy's 21,578-ton flagship HMS Ocean.
Posing as a cleaner, he strolled around the deck of the giant vessel -
even pausing to flick through its log books and sip tea in the galley.
Furious Royal Navy chiefs launched TWO probes last night as it emerged
most of the ship's 500-strong company were on board.
The base is surrounded by a 9ft perimeter fence and guarded by
security staff and scores of military police officers with alsatians.
But yesterday, armed with just workmen's overalls and the lost pass -
handed to us by a concerned reader - our man gained entry after
flashing the ID card over 20 yards from guards.
They waved him through and even wished him "good morning". Yet had we
been terrorists, we could have caused carnage.
Within minutes our man found the quay where HMS Ocean, the Navy's
largest ship, is moored for maintenance.
As ship workers and sailors filed up the gangplank, we followed them
on to the warship, designed to hold 18 attack helicopters and an army
of highly-trained commandos.
Two machine gun-carrying marines were checking passes. But again our
man held his finger over the real workman's picture and marched in.
Once at the heart of the ship - which is on 24 hours' notice to sail
anywhere in the world if a crisis breaks - he was directed by one
unwitting worker to the bridge and nerve centre.
He toured the area with video gear for 15 minutes before moving to a
walkway, where photographer Marc Giddings snapped him from a road.
Our reporter also saw the engine room, living quarters and anchor
room. Only one sailor asked what he was doing, but he returned to
hoisting a flag when told our man was a cleaner.
We finally left the ship, praised for leading the Marines' 2003
invasion of southern Iraq, and left the base as easily as we walked
A Navy spokesman said: "We take all breaches of security very
seriously. A full investigation by the ship and the naval base has
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