The Navy has given an explanation and apologies for the nuclear attack scare in Torpoint in the week before Christmas.

The Telegraph reported a public meeting on the matter end of last week as follows …

A naval base has changed its nuclear alert system after a warning siren caused panic when it was sounded for eight minutes because the wrong button was accidentally pressed.

The alarm at the Devonport base, adjacent to HMS Raleigh in Torpoint, was mistakenly triggered during a maintenance check.

Richard Clark, deputy head of safety at the naval base, said the control system has several “small round buttons very close together” and that the siren was accidentally set to the On position. Plastic covers will now be placed over the buttons to prevent future mistakes, along with a two-person check system.

A local public meeting heard that the incident, on the evening of December 19, triggered a review of how the control system is operated.

In total there are eight sirens in Plymouth and Torpoint that are designed to warn staff at the naval base and dockyard in the event of a nuclear incident.

Residents are urged to stay indoors and follow advice issued via local media if the alarm, which is tested every Monday, is activated.

Following “routine maintenance” on the control system, the siren beside Raleigh sounded for about eight minutes at about 6 pm, Mr Clark told the meeting.

He said: “An extensive technical investigation has been conducted and that’s concluded that the siren was activated due to human error.”

Commodore Ian Shipperley, the commander of HM Naval Base, Devonport, said the control system was being reviewed. He added that lessons would be learned and said: “We are really sorry that this happened.”

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