Banner Ad 1

RN Sub Collision

This is the place to read all about submarines in the real world!

RN Sub Collision

Postby Vanguard UK » Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:44 am

Reported on ITN Feb 16th

A Royal Navy nuclear submarine has collided with a French vessel in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, according to reports.
The crash between HMS Vanguard and French submarine Le Triomphant, which was also carrying nuclear warheads, is believed to have occurred on February 3 or 4.

Despite being equipped with sonar to detect other vessels, neither submarine apparently realised the other was in the same part of the ocean.

A senior Navy source told a newspaper the potential consequences of such a collision were "unthinkable".

He said: "It's very unlikely there would have been a nuclear explosion. But a radioactive leak was a possibility. Worse, we could have the crew and warheads. That would have been a national disaster."

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) refused to confirm the incident had taken place, saying it was against its policy to comment on submarine operations.

However, a spokesman insisted nuclear security had not been breached.

He said: "We can confirm that the UK's deterrent capability has remained unaffected at all times and there has been no compromise to nuclear safety."

Inquiries are under way on both sides of the Channel.
User avatar
Vanguard UK
Registered User
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2008 10:04 am
Location: Norfolk

Postby U-5075 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:23 pm

There are now a number of news reports coming out........ mostly unofficial comments made off the record.

Here are the more interesting ones. ... ueID=31337

France 'hiding sub damages'

PARIS: The French nuclear-armed submarine that collided with a British submarine in the Atlantic is more damaged than the government has reported,reports said yesterday.

France's defence ministry officials, under fire for initially saying the missile-loaded submarine had rammed a submerged object, probably a container, said it would be out of service for several months but details were secret.

"We have given the details we can give, which is, the sonar dome was damaged," navy spokesman Jerome Erulin said when asked to elaborate on the exact state of the submarine.

He added that an investigation was under way and France's nuclear deterrence capacity remained intact.

Newspaper Ouest France said in an unsourced report the submarine's conning tower and its immersion controls had also been damaged, and that this raised questions about France's nuclear deterrent capacity.

France and Britain have said the two submarines - Le Triomphant and HMS Vanguard - collided at very low speed, having failed to detect each other because they were designed to be silent and invisible.

France said on February 6 that Le Triomphant had hit an object, probably a container, as it was returning from a mission. ... -collision

French navy looking at damage from nuclear sub collision


Agence France-Presse | 02/19/2009 10:38 PM

Printer-friendly version | Send to friend

PARIS - The French navy said Thursday it was still assessing damages to its nuclear submarine from a collision with a British sub after a newspaper claimed Le Triomphant was in worse shape than reported.

The nuclear ballistic submarine crashed into Britain's HMS Vanguard in the middle of the Atlantic earlier this month and was forced to return to port with a dented sonar dome.

But the Ouest France newspaper reported Thursday that in addition to the sonar dome, Le Triomphant also suffered damage to its conning tower and sail planes, and that repairs would take some time.

"There are investigations under way on the consequences of this event," said navy spokesman Jerome Erulin, who confirmed that the sonar was damaged and repeated the navy's insistence that France's nuclear deterrent force was not affected.

"We are still conducting investigations and assessments. Conclusions will be made at a later stage," said Erulin. He added that repairs could take several months.

Ouest France quoted unnamed sources as saying that "it wasn't just the nose of the Triomphant that took a bad hit in the collision with the British submarine... there was also an impact on the conning tower."

French Defence Minister Herve Morin said this week that the crews did not realise their submarines had crashed into each other until the navy announced on February 6 that Le Triomphant had hit an unidentified object under water.

"Our submarine went back to Brest, the British submarine continued its patrol and it's when we reported the incident that the British, who had just learned from their commander that there had been a problem, contacted us," he said.

British officials approached them "and said 'well hey, we also had a problem'," he said.

Each sub is around 150 metres (490 feet) long and can carry up to 48 nuclear warheads on a maximum of 16 missiles. A total of 250 sailors were on board the subs at the time.

France has maintained a sea-based nuclear deterrent force since 1971 and currently has three nuclear-armed submarines in operation. A fourth is undergoing sea trials and will come into service next year.

as of 02/19/2009 10:38 PM ... 90220.aspx

Not So Rare At All
February 20, 2009: The recent collision between a British and French nuclear submarine is not as rare as most people think. Four years ago a U.S. SSN (nuclear attack sub) collided with an underwater mountain. The sub survived, but its sonar dome was smashed in, and one sailor died.

The Golden Age of submarine collisions was during the Cold War (1948-91). Once Russia began building nuclear subs in the 1960s, and putting them to sea often and for long periods, there were lots of collisions. Well, about one every two years. Most involved at least one Russian boat. The problem was that the Russians had pretty poor sonar, so they were the equivalent of half blind under water. From the 1970s on, the U.S. has increasingly superior sonar compared to the Russians. This led to the more collisions involving Russian and U.S. boats. It also saw the invention, by the Russians, of the "Crazy Ivan" maneuver. This occurred when an American sub was stalking a Russian one (often an American SSN keeping tabs on a Russian SSBN). The U.S. boat would stay in the Russian subs "blind spot" (behind its propeller). But sometimes the Russians would suspect they were being stalked, or just wanted to make sure they were not, and would perform the "Crazy Ivan" maneuver, which involved upping speed and making a sharp turn. The U.S. sub would have to quickly get out of the way, or there would be, and sometimes was, a collision.

Most of the collisions during this period involved Russian subs bumping into other Russian subs, or inanimate objects (icebergs, oil rigs). Western boats had far fewer collisions because they had better sonar, and better trained and more experienced crews. ... 90219.aspx

Things That Go Bump In The Deep
February 19, 2009: Although French and British navy officials announced on February 16th that two of their SSBNs, the French Le Triomphant and the British Vanguard, had collided with each other on February 4th, no more details were given. While the British have remained tight lipped, French officials have relented under media pressure, and made several interesting revelations (some openly, others "off the record.")

First, the February 6th French announcement that the Le Triomphant had collided with some unknown underwater object, causing some damage to its sonar dome, was not a deliberate deception. At the time, the crew did not know what they had hit, and assumed that it was a cargo container, floating underwater after having fallen off a ship. It's a common enough occurrence in bad weather. Nothing else seemed to make sense. Ten days later, after the British announced that their SSBN had also collided with something underwater, they compared notes with the French, and concluded that the two boats had run into each other. No one has revealed if any analysis was done on materials from the hull of each boat left on the other after the collision. This would be definitive proof of a collision. This analysis may still be underway.

It appears that the bow (front) of the Le Triomphant scrapped along the side of the HMS Vanguard. The French apparently believe that both boats were so quiet (which is how SSBNs are designed to operate), that neither boat detected the other one, even after the collision. The British have not released any information on what went on inside their boat before, during or after the collision. The French revelations indicate that onboard the Le Triomphant, there was bumping and scraping, then silence. There was probably a damage assessment drill, which came up clean, except for some damage to the sonar dome (which meant the sub was even less able to hear any noises coming out of the Vanguard). The Le Triomphant then proceeded on its way, only able to guess at what it had just hit.

The French also revealed that they do exchange location knowledge with NATO navies with regard to where their attack submarines are operating under water. But they consider the SSBNs one of their strategic weapons and thus subject to a higher degree of secrecy. For decades, it's been understood that sharing information with all your NATO partners increases the chances of the secrets getting out. So even if France rejoins NATO, they will continue to keep the locations of their SSBNs to themselves. Since only one or two of these SSBN boats are at sea at any time, it was believed that collisions would never be a problem. The odds of an underwater collisions were considered so high as to be virtually impossible.

It will be interesting to hear what the British have to say, eventually. ... 8_3270.php

French Submarine Policies Might Have Contributed to Collision
Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009

The collision between French and British nuclear-armed submarines this month might have been avoided if France had participated in a NATO system that designates ocean areas for submarine patrols, Time magazine reported Monday (see GSN, Feb. 17).

The two boats, Le Triomphant and the HMS Vanguard, reportedly struck each other in part because neither submarine was aware of the other's presence nearby.

"There is a system for operating areas that are reserved for American, British, Norwegian, Dutch and Canadian communities, and if you want to go into someone's area of influence, you tell them what you are doing," said Julian Ferguson, a retired British submarine commander. "But if you are not in the NATO military structure, you don't have to do that."

France, which plans to re-engage in the structure in April, confirmed that it does not tell anyone where it deploys its missile submarines.

"France does not supply any information regarding the position of its nuclear arms or submarines carrying them because France considers its nuclear arsenal the most vital element in its defense capabilities," said navy spokesman Jerome Erulin.

While the assertion that the submarines were unaware of each other might seem improbable, Ferguson said missile boats tend to patrol in certain areas where environmental conditions improve the likelihood of

"There are oceanographic factors in which you can be on either side of an ocean front where the temperature is slightly different on your side than the others," he said. "Where the gulf stream comes across the Atlantic is a prime point of this. Sometimes these barriers can be quite hard -- no sound penetrates at all. And if your business is hiding, then you would hide in that vicinity. There is an added risk that, given the environmental factors, maybe you don't hear another submarine in time to do something about it."

British and French officials held talks beginning in 1994 to improve naval cooperation, but Time could not ascertain whether they resulted in any submarine information sharing.

"The fact that the collision occurred at all indicates that the two allies need to talk more," said nuclear expert Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists (Eben Harrell, Time, Feb. 16).
Registered User
Posts: 1134
Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2003 9:45 am

Postby U-5075 » Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:38 pm

Nuclear sub 'caught on camera'

The Brits aren't saying or showing much.

Video, but one cannot see apparent damage.

"Scottish CND has filmed what it believes is a damaged Trident nuclear submarine being moved at Faslane. HMS Vanguard had been involved in a collision with a French nuclear sub in the Atlantic."
Registered User
Posts: 1134
Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2003 9:45 am

Postby junglelord » Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:14 pm

Thats why they need widows like the Seaview....running blind.
User avatar
Registered User
Posts: 347
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:11 am
Location: Ontario Canada

Postby Big Jim » Sun Feb 22, 2009 12:18 pm

From today's newspaper.
Big Jim
Registered User
Posts: 46
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2006 3:52 pm
Location: Roanoke, VA

Return to Subs in the News

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users