By Michael Pugh
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 1989
Online Publication Date:July 2010
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511598753.006
Whereas the liability suspensions had been largely a matter of concern to bureaucrats, naval officers and insurance brokers, the rein statement of nuclear-powered visits to Australia and New Zealand in 1976 activated a wider interest in naval visiting. Although the assurance of legal indemnity satisfied governments, it did little to calm public fears of reactor or weapon accidents in ports. Indeed the development of the US Navy's nuclear reactor programme, together with the dispersion of nuclear missiles, fostered concern among environmentalists as well as traditional nuclear disarmers. The risk of mishap had allegedly increased.
The current deployment of nuclear missiles in the USN was discussed in chapter 1. It should be recalled that over 80 per cent of the major combatants were categorized as nuclear capable. For convenience table 5.1 provides a summary of nuclear-powered, as well as nuclear-capable, vessels.
This chapter therefore examines controversies which affected the management of visits. Under pressure from port authorities, environmentalists and anti-nuclear groups, politicians and officials on both sides of the Tasman reconsidered the safety assessments which had underpinned the procedures and principles of 1976. The New Zealand Select Committee on Disarmament and Arms Control received submissions on the issue in 1983 and the Atomic Energy Committee began a review of its code in 1984. In Australia, serious practical issues of managing ship visits became apparent, and at the end of 1986 an Australian Senate committee commenced deliberations on accident contingencies and safety regulations.