Royal Navy weapons officer was removed from nuclear submarine HMS Vanguard when he stated he was Christian and opposed to firing nukes

  • Sub-Lieutenant Antonio Jardim says he is opposed to firing nuclear weapons
  • He believes he has been discriminated against on account of his Christian faith
  • He alleges he was nicknamed ‘Trigger’, interrogated and banned from the boat
  • An employment tribunal is set to next gather in March after Mr Jardim resigned

A nuclear submarine officer who objects to nuclear weapons on religious grounds is suing the Ministry of Defence for discrimination after being removed from a submarine and losing his security clearance.

Sub-Lieutenant Antonio Jardim told Royal Navy superiors that he was opposed to the use of Britain’s nuclear deterrent due to his Christian beliefs just days after being assigned to HMS Vanguard, a Trident missile-armed submarine.

An employment tribunal heard that the practising Christian says that after he made his objection known he was nicknamed ‘Trigger’ by fellow sailors because of his aversion to the weapons.

He claims that after this, he lost his security clearance, was banned from being on board HMS Vanguard, and made to spend a year on shore-based employment in Portsmouth instead.

Now, he has launched legal action against the MoD after resigning, taking them to  tribunal claiming to be the victim of religious discrimination.

Antonio Jardim says he was dismissed from service on HMS Vanguard due to his Christian faith

HMS Vanguard as seen from beneath while divers conducted a survey of a battleship wreck

The 15,900 tonne HMS Vanguard, which is nearly 500ft long, cost around £3.75 billion and is one of the most formidable ships the Royal Navy has ever built.

The submarine, based at HM Naval Base Clyde in Scotland, is the lead boat of her class of four Trident ballistic missile-armed submarines which were built in the 1990s under the Trident nuclear deterrent programme.

The hearing in Southampton was told Mr Jardim joined the Royal Navy in 2019 as a Weapons Engineering Officer and in January 2020 was assigned to HMS Vanguard for training.

Just 13 days later, he announced to Navy bosses that ‘he was against being personally involved with the operational deployment of nuclear weapons’.

A tribunal report said: ‘After completing his initial officer training and joining the submarine service he was assigned for further training on board HMS Vanguard.

‘HMS Vanguard carries nuclear missiles as part of the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

‘Mr Jardim’s case is that as a Christian he is opposed to nuclear weapons, and that when he made his views known shortly after his appointment he was removed from the boat, had his security clearance cancelled and then spent about a year with shore-based employment before deciding to leave the Service.’

Mr Jardim claims when he attended his first joining interview for the Navy ‘there were no questions asked relating to nuclear weapons’.

Further, he says he was told ‘not to worry’ about a specific security clearance as he would not be serving on a nuclear submarine due to his dual nationality.

The tribunal report added: ‘On January 24 2020 he was selected for service on [nuclear submarines]. On February 6 2020 he made the Royal Navy aware that due to his Christian beliefs he was against being personally involved with the operational deployment of nuclear weapons.

‘As a result, he earned the nickname Trigger amongst his peers, reflecting his reluctance to “pull the trigger”.’

Mr Jardim says later in 2020 he was removed from a Trident Officers General Course, having told the course officer about his concerns, and told to wait in his cabin.

He said he then faced ‘comprehensive interview’ with ‘in depth questions of my views, relationships and background’.

Then he says he was ‘told not to return to the boat, and that his name was written in the Quarter Masters book stating that he was not to be let on board’.

In November 2020, Mr Jardim says one of his clearances was suspended and his ID removed,

He had to wait months to have it restored and was prevented from applying for another type of clearance.

Mr Jardim adds that as a new officer his career options were limited in the Navy while on shore-based employment.

He told the tribunal: ‘After consideration of options and talking to my current (superior officer), I wanted to leave the service after the treatment I received when making my moral views known.

‘I believe I have been subjected to a series of connected acts of discriminatory treatment based upon my religious beliefs.

‘After a great deal of thought, and with much regret, I submitted a request for Voluntary Withdrawal From Training (VWFT) on March 18 2021.

At a preliminary employment tribunal hearing in Southampton today a panel chaired by Employment Judge Eoin Fowell allowed Mr Jardim to make tweaks to his claims and allowed the case to proceed to a further hearing in 2023.

The tribunal ruled that while Mr Jardim’s claims from November 2020 about being banned from the submarine, having his clearances removed, and having his career hampered can proceed to a full hearing.

However, it concluded that it does not have jurisdiction to hear his earlier claims up to June 2020 but ruled that they will serve as ‘background’ instead.

The full hearing will examine whether requiring sailors to serve on nuclear submarines puts people who object to nuclear weapons at a risk of discrimination, the tribunal suggested.

The Ministry of Defence dispute the claims.

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