CHANNEL 4 NEWS Destroyer holed Broadcast: July 7, 2002
Reporter: Stephen Smith A British navy destroyer has run aground
200 miles off the coast of Australia.

Tonight Channel 4 News understands that HMS Nottingham was in
the region to provide security for a convoy of nuclear material which
is being sent to the Sellafield reprocessing plant in Cumbria.

Stephen Smith reports:

HMS Nottingham is holed and pumping out seawater tonight after
running aground on a rock in the South Pacific. More pumps are
being flown out to the destroyer from Australia.

It's thought no one was hurt in the incident and the ship is not in
immediate danger, but the situation looked very different just a few
hours ago.

The collision happened off Lord Howe island. It's about 200 miles
from Sydney, or two-days steaming from a re-fit, assuming the ship
could withstand the journey.

The incident comes as a consignment of unused nuclear fuel
produced in Britain has set sail from Takahama outside Tokyo.

It's been rejected by the Japanese and is on its way back to
Sellafield. A senior military source has told Channel 4 News that
the Nottingham was due to escort the nuclear cargo. Other
commentators say a Royal Naval presence could deter pirates or

British Nuclear Fuels Ltd says it doesn't know of a link between the
cargo leaving Takhama and the destroyer now stranded at Lord
Howe island. Environmentalists see it differently.

The Nottingham, which has been at sea since March, says on her
own home-page that her duties are to 'safeguard the strategically
vital waters around Singapore and Malaysia'. She's also 'supporting
wider British interests as far afield as Japan and Australasia'.

Despite that, how a Royal Navy destroyer came to run aground,
perhaps on a coral reef, might not be the only sensitive issue
raised by today's events in the South Pacific.