‘Little Britain’: How Russian media mocked UK missile failure

Connie Queline

‘Little Britain’: How Russian media mocked UK missile failure

The failed test of a Trident missile from a Royal Navy submarine has led to a wave of ridicule in global media.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps was among those on board the HMS Vanguard when the incident happened off the coast of Florida last month.

After news of the failed test leaked, Russian media wasted little time in mocking the UK over the incident.

“Nobody was hurt, apart from the Royal Navy’s reputation,” said Rossiya 1’s main news bulletin on Wednesday.

The host of the top TV channel’s 60 Minutes talk show, Olga Skabeyeva, said earlier in the day that “an attempt by the Royal Navy of formerly Great Britain – now we call it little Britain – to demonstrate its power ended in failure”.

And Alexander Kots, the star war correspondent of Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, said on his Telegram channel that the incident “once again underscores that Great Britain has finally lost its status of ‘ruler of the waves'”.

In China, Xinhua news agency’s website ran an article with the headline: “British Navy botches test: Missile crashes into the sea with a ‘thud’, nuclear submarine hovering underwater”.

The website of China’s state-run nationalist newspaper the Global Times went further. “Embarrassing! Royal Navy nuclear submarine Trident II missile fails for a second time in a row,” its headline said.

Xinhua's website with a Chinese-language report citing the BBC and The Sun from Haiwai Net, a state-run news website affiliated with the CCP-run People's Daily Overseas Edition newspaper

The Global Times article recalled earlier failures of the Trident programme, including when a missile “flew mistakenly towards the US” during a test in June 2016.

That missile was reportedly intended to be fired 3,700 miles (5,954 km) to a sea target off the west coast of Africa . What went wrong remains top secret, but the Sunday Times quoted a senior naval source as saying the missile suffered an in-flight malfunction after launching out of the water.

The Global Times piece added: “It is worth mentioning that not long ago, the Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier also encountered an embarrassing malfunction.”

It noted that the HMS Prince of Wales, which replaced the Queen Elizabeth carrier in a series of exercises, “experienced a minor incident” of its own, causing a further delay.

Elsewhere, Turkish media outlets have widely covered the failed Trident test. “The UK almost shot its own minister,” the pro-government Aksam newspaper website said.

“Fiasco during missile test: British Defence Minister barely escaped death,” the pro-government Milliyet newspaper website reported.

There have been no suggestions from UK officials or media reports that Mr Shapps came to any harm at all.

“British nuclear missile test fails, again,” was the headline on the New York Times’s report, which added this raised “questions about the state of Britain’s nuclear deterrence capability”.

“Britain’s Navy has suffered a string of problems in recent months with its fleet,” the article said.

Research and additional reporting by BBC Monitoring

Related Topics

  • Turkey
  • China
  • Russia
  • BBC Monitoring
  • Trident

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