MCIguy, it's pretty different, there is no TCAMO style system in UK service, (but there is for the French, imported equipment and all).
It's more passive command and control wise, if that's the right word, not at the trigger puller level true, there it's similar to the US.
For a 'PM going mad' or other serious doubts about his/her fitness to make nuclear decisions, unlike a US or French President, he/she is neither head of state nor commander in chief.
Those subs are HMS as in Her Majesties Submarine
. Their crews and the rest of the Armed Forces, swear allegiance to the monarch.
In practical terms, they of course follow the orders of the elected government, but it's still referred to as 'HMG' - Her Majesties Government
If she is advised by any or some of the large number of people who can do so, that the PM
is unfit for office, as stated in this programme, for example she will appoint a Chief Of Defence Staff if our bonkers PM
sacks the incumbent who won't follow his orders.
And the CDS gives the order to fire, not the PM
Blair has since admitted that he found the task of both being briefed on the SSBN's capabilities and having to draft his own 'from beyond the grave' letters to the sub commanders, a very sobering experience indeed, shocking even.
Post Cold War these issues had faded from view, so in fairness to Blair, he was the first PM
to take office who not not been in government during the Cold War.
Plus the whole British stance on these issues is for some, more secretive, others may see it as more understated however!
Not alluded to in this programme however, is the fact that since all UK nuclear weapons are now on Trident, (the last RAF air dropped bombs retired in 1998), it also has a 'sub-strategic' role too.
In effect, some missiles are single warhead only. Trident D5, when ordered in 1982, was seen by many as overkill for the UK, it's high accuracy for a sub launched system, meant it had more capabilities than just what the UK had it for, bluntly put, deterring nuclear attack on the UK by being able to destroy major population centers of the attacker.
Now, the accuracy of the D5 has enabled the UK force to have this extra deterrence, short of destroying a whole nation. But still a deterrent.
This has meaning when you consider that when Saddam actually DID have WMD's in 1991, it is thought he did not use them in the first Gulf War since the US threatened nuclear retaliation if he did so.
This would not have been a threat to 'wipe out Iraq', more likely it was a direct one to him, in his bunker but no longer safe.
In 2006, the French President alluded to using his force to deter any regime that thinks of supplying terrorists with WMD's, since he pointed out that debris from either a nuclear detonation, or the more likely 'dirty bomb', can be traced to the reactor it came from.