Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Subs Collide

First we heard about the satellites colliding in space. Now we have subs colliding in the ocean. What next? The moon and the earth? Here is the scoop: A Royal Navy nuclear submarine was involved in a collision with a French nuclear sub in the middle of the Atlantic, the MOD has confirmed. HMS Vanguard and Le Triomphant were badly damaged in the crash in heavy seas earlier this month. First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathon Band said the submarines came into contact at low speed and no injuries were reported. Both the UK and France insisted nuclear security had not been compromised.
BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said the incident was "incredibly embarrassing" for the Ministry of Defence.
HMS Vanguard returned to its home base Faslane on the Firth of Clyde under her own power on 14 February. "Very visible dents and scrapes" could be seen as tugs towed her in to the port on the final stage of the journey, our correspondent said.

The submarines are equipped with sonar to detect other vessels nearby but our correspondent said it might be the case that the anti-sonar devices, meant to hide the submarines from enemies, were "too effective". "This is clearly a one-in-a-million chance when you think about how big the Atlantic is," she said. The two submarines are key parts of each nation's nuclear deterrent, and would have been carrying missiles, though both the UK and France have insisted there was no danger of a nuclear incident. They were carrying around 240 sailors between them. A French naval spokesman said the collision did not result in any injuries to the crew. Le Triomphant is based at L'Ile Longue near Brest, north-west France. HMS Vanguard arrived back in Faslane on Saturday. On 6 February, France's defence ministry had said that Le Triomphant "collided with an immersed object (probably a container)" when coming back from patrolling, and that the vessel's sonar dome was damaged. But in a subsequent statement, it admitted that the collision between the two submarines took place. "They briefly came into contact at a very low speed while submerged," the statement added.

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