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The Carella Incident: UK Government Risked Plague Outbreak

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posted on Sep, 11 2005 @ 12:36 PM
Want to see the lengths that a Government will go in order to cover up a potential disaster that occurred during a series of Biological Warfare (BW) experiments that were conducted in public areas?

Recently released documents show that the Government of the time, including Prime Minister Winston Churchill, were prepared to risk an outbreak of plague on the north-west coast of the UK, rather than admit that the UK were conducting open air plague experiments.

Even though this incident took place over 50 years ago, the subject matter is as relevant now as it was then; especially given the enormous increase in BW research which has taken place in the UK and US since 2001.


The Sunday Times

September 11, 2005

Trawler crew exposed to deadly plague test
Karin Goodwin

FOR more than half a century it has remained one of the most closely guarded secrets of the cold war.
In a series of biological weapons tests off the Isle of Lewis, monkeys and guinea pigs were suspended from cages on pontoon bridges and exposed to clouds of deadly bubonic plague.

Now, newly declassified files have revealed for the first time the recklessness of Operation Cauldron, where lives were put at risk and government officials embarked on a cover-up to prevent the tests being exposed.

The documents reveal that the fishing boat Carella strayed into the test zone and the crew were put at risk from the tests.

However, ministers decided not to warn the crew and failed to prevent them returning to port, potentially putting the population of Britain in danger from the deadly pathogen.

Instead, they ordered two ships, including a destroyer, to trail the trawler on its three-week fishing trip to Iceland and to intercept any distress calls should a crew member fall sick.

zero lift

[edit on 11-9-2005 by zero lift]

mod edit, to shorten lengthy cut & paste

[edit on 11-9-2005 by DontTreadOnMe]

posted on Sep, 12 2005 @ 08:17 AM

The CARELLA Incident exposed the north-west coast of the UK (and possibly the whole UK) to a possible epidemic of plague.

This signal sent by the Captain of HMS BEN LOMOND (the Control vessel for the Biological Warfare experiments - codename Operation CAULDRON) to the Admiralty in London stated:

During CAULDRON trials using agent L at 19:00 15th September, steam trawler CARELLA Number H4 of Hull bound Fleetwood from Iceland(C) disregarded signals and crossed danger area after release of agent. Vessel passed two miles to leeward position of pontoon sixteen minutesafter time of release. Wind speed six knots. Consider vessel may have passed through toxic cloud.

Agent L was the Microbiological Research Department (MRD) Porton Down codename for Yersinia pestis - plague.

The concern uppermost in the UK authorities minds was now how to control the situation without disclosing to the public that they had been conducting BW experiments involving the release of plague bacteria from munitions in public areas. If the 18 strong crew of the CARELLA had been infected and made port, the UK Government would now face the risk of a plague epidemic breaking out in the UK.

This risk was acknowledged by the UK Government ,as recently declassified documents reveal that the Ministry of Health had rushed massive quantities of streptomycin to cities, towns and villages to areas of the UK deemed to be at most risk. At the time this antibiotic was in short supply so it is highly likely that this preventative action caused shortages at UK hospitals, possibly causing complications for some patients.

Even the UK Ambassador to Iceland was warned that a visit from the Carella could cause an plague epidemic, should the fishing vessel make it’s scheduled visit to an Icelandic port. Orders were even given for the UK Embassy to receive an emergency supply of antibiotics.

Emergency arrangements were made for HMS ZAMBESI to shadow the CARELLA until they neared the fishing grounds. Fisheries Protection Vessel TRUELOVE would then rendezvous with HMS ZAMBESI and take on board the Medical Officer. The TRUELOVE would then maintain a listening watch for any mayday radio signals transmitted from the CARELLA. Shore stations also monitored the trawler frequencies for a similar mayday call. On receipt of ant such distress calls, the Medical Officer would have boarded the CARELLA and administered streptomycin to those affected.

At no point were the UK authorities prepared to board the CARELLA, prior to the crew reporting that they were ill.

The UK Government determined that it was preferable to risk the UK population catching the plague rather than admit that biological warfare experiments with plague were being conducted by UK military scientists.

zero lift

posted on Sep, 12 2005 @ 09:30 PM
zero lift,

do you have a link for your second post?

posted on Sep, 13 2005 @ 10:44 AM

zero lift,

do you have a link for your second post?

Not a link that would enable you to read the documents directly, no.

If you wish to see examine them it would be best to visit the National Archives at Kew, London.

The relevant file is

ADM 1/26857 Operation CAULDRON: special defence trials held off Isle of Lewis 1951-1953

Copies can be obtained directly from the National Archives, but they are expensive; £0.45 a page. Be warned this is a large file.

You can also read Dr Brian Balmer's excellent paper on the subject in the journal - Science as Culture, Volume 13, Number 2, June 2004.

The paper is entitled - HOW DOES AN ACCIDENT BECOME AN EXPERIMENT? Secret Science and the Exposure of the Public to Biological Warfare Agents.

zero lift

posted on Sep, 22 2005 @ 11:31 AM

Operation CAULDRON is broadcast tonight (22 September 2005) at 20:00 UK time.

I think you have to subtract between 5-8 hours for US time, depending which time zone you're in.

You can hear the live broadcast on the Radio 4 website

zero lift

posted on Oct, 18 2005 @ 07:19 PM
UK viewers may be interested that BBC4 is broadcasting a television programme tonight (Wednesday 19 October 2005) that offers a historical perspective of the UK Chemical and Biological Warfare programme that operated during the years 1945-1955.

During this period the Microbiological Research Department Porton Down conducted 'hot trials' in public areas, using real live biological agents. These TOP SECRET experiments had many covernames -Operation HARNESS; Operation CAULDRON; Operation HESPERUS etc. The programme also includes new details of the CARELLA incident.


Cold War, Dirty Science
In the decade following the Second World War, British scientists planned not for peace but for a war which would be fought with chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Recent revelations expose the dangerous, top secret tests which put the British public at risk. [S]

Part of BBC FOUR's Lost Decade season.

Wed 19 Oct, 21:00-22:00 60mins Stereo Widescreen



Do watch the programme if you can, it'll be well worth it.

zero lift

posted on Nov, 4 2005 @ 07:25 PM
I think that th UK government was ignorant to the possibility of a major plague outbreak. I'm a medical professional, and I'm always amazed at the ignorance of supposedly learned scholars in the day and age, let alone mid 1900's.

Look what happened just a short time ago with the outbreak of ebola in reston virginia. We're it not for the fact that ebola-reston only harmed monkeys, it probably would have caused great harm in the US. 2 lab workers actually sniffed a vial containing the disease, but fortunately were uneffected.

posted on Nov, 5 2005 @ 03:31 PM

I think that th UK government was ignorant to the possibility of a major plague outbreak. I'm a medical professional, and I'm always amazed at the ignorance of supposedly learned scholars in the day and age, let alone mid 1900's.

I think that the fact that some Government scientist had briefed the Government that they had a wonder drug (streptomycin) that would stop an epidemic, also had a lot to do with the complacent attitude that prevailed at the time.

zero lift

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