Skip to comments.French sub unaware it rammed Royal Navy vessel in mid-Atlantic nuclear crash
Posted on 02/16/2009 8:11:43 AM PST by Sub-Driver
French sub unaware it rammed Royal Navy vessel in mid-Atlantic nuclear crash
Charles Bremner in Paris, and David Brown
A French submarine was unaware it had rammed and damaged a British nuclear sub in a mid-Atlantic collision until it was informed by the Royal Navy.
HMS Vanguard and the French submarine Le Triomphant were both carrying nuclear ballistic warheads when they crashed in the Atlantic earlier this month.
Both navies said today that the collision had been unavoidable because the vessels were running silently to avoid detection by sonar.
Official inquiries have started in Britain and France into the incident which has raised concerns about the sharing of information between the allied navies.
The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, said the incident happened at low speed and none of the 250 crew on board the submarines were injured.
Both submarines remained safe and no injuries occurred, he said. We can confirm that the capability remained unaffected and there has been no compromise to nuclear safety.
The French Navy claimed earlier this month that Le Triomphants bow sonar dome was probably damaged in a collision with a submerged shipping container while returning from patrol.
It only discovered it had hit British submarine after one of their regular exchanges of information with the Royal Navy.
HMS Vanguard returned its base in Faslane, western Scotland, on Saturday with dents and scrapes on its hull following the collision reported to have occurred on February 3 or 4.
Le Triomphant took three days to limp home to port in Brest, northwest France, with extensive damage to its Thales DMUX 80 sonar.
(Excerpt) Read more at timesonline.co.uk ...
...must be close to the odds of two 747's colliding on the ground.
The captain was a little old lady who spent the entire cruise with her left turn signal on.
More like the odds of two 747's colliding and not knowing it happened.
Captain Clouseau, “ Did you feel a Boomp” You mean a bump? “Oui a Boomp”
It tells you there must be finite areas where the missles reach intended tarets and you can hide.
The Captain was probably talking on his cellphone.
. . . LOL . . .
and cursing a blue streak about the romance novel she was reading?
From this pix:
It looks like the sonar dome... is in the nose.
Gadzooks! Yes, yes, yes, I know it is the French Frigging Navy, but how could they... not know?
searching quietly for underwater truffles?
Trying to find where they’d stashed those cases of rare wine?
As we used to say at SUBLANT, “Ah, the old ‘I-must-have-hit-a-submerged-shipping-container’ excuse.”
I’d hate to have to calculate those odds. Numbers of subs, go and no go areas in the seas, depths (maximum depth unknown) and probably a whole other list of variables i can’t think of.
I do think we can rule out everyplace above sea level.
Once upon a time when I was a crewmember of a US Navy destroyer, the only submarine I specifically remember that my ship “sank” in a war game was a French one.
So don’t let the Brits and French have subs, and don’t let the Dutch and Americans have 747s. Problem solved.
Read the article. The French were well aware that they had git something. They just didn't know what. The only way that you would know is if you heard it before or after the crash. As its sonar dome was damaged, that leaves only the before part.
A better question would perhaps be to ask how the British knew what they hit, but didn't avoid it.
Hit and run.
It was the french who did the hitting, not the british.
Subs play cat and mouse all the time. The surprise here is that two boomers (SSBN) did it. Usually, attack boats (SSN) do it.
You’ve been stuck behind her in (sea) traffic?
Given that the French didn’t notice..........
There really are no words.
I think she’s been cloned and spread all around the planet.
Dreadful strategy to gum up civilization! LOL.
Same question still applies. How did the British know who the other party was? If they identified the contact before impact, why didn't they avoid the collision? If they identified them after the impact, why didn't they use their underwater communication gear and signal them?
I'm going to infer that the British sub didn't know either, but that the RN and French Navy put two and two together after the subs both made their reports.
But what I find most fascinating is the assumption of hitting a submerged shipping container. Makes me seriously wonder how great a risk that is and how often it happens if the French assume that first.
If all the pilots are blindfolded, and there’s no tower to tell them - it’s more possible than you think!
Putting a submarine in the hands of the French is just plain lunacy.
Based on the damage to the bow/ sonar dome and array of the Frech sub, and the lesser hull damage to the Brits, one could reasonably infer the Brits were ‘crossing the T’ of the French boat, from a maneuvering standpoint.
“Acoustic contact close aboard contact, Captain. Range 100m on starboard quarter!”
“Helm, all ahead full. Left full rudder. 20 degrees up on the planes!” Except none of that apparently happened???
Two deaf or inattentive boats.
OK, so since the French did not hear the Brits, one could presume the Brits did not sound a collision alarm, did not ping, did not try to warn away ... i.e., the Brits were unaware of the French boat until it motored away under it own power. Then the Brits figured out they had been in a collision (a) with another sub, and (b) it was the Frenchies. Merde! Or did they?
And for the French. They never figured out they hit a sub. So the Brits never did anything to provide an acoustic signature ... even if the French could ‘hear’ anything. i.e., the Brits continued ‘silent running’ while they performed their damage assessment.
Or maybe everybody knew what actually happened in a game of chicken, and no one wanted to own up to it.
The obvious question is was this really a 1 in a million encounter in the cubic miles of the ocean, or were these two boats messing with each other? Makes no sense for two boomers to do it ...
Well you hit it at the end. These were both boomers. And SSBN don’t do anything but avoid contacts.
I’m assuming that the French were the first to report a collision and when the British sub reported a collision the RN picked up the phone to see exactly where that French sub was when it happened, and then they confirmed things with the French.
I was thinking the same thing. No way to know these are around without the sub actively pinging with it's sonar and they generally don't want to do that as it reveals their own location.
I think we can reasonably infer hits was a very low speed collision, otherwise the damage and injuries would have been worse. So the boomers were busy doing what boomers do best — maintaining just enough forward motion to hold steerage while they try to be a silent hole in the background noise of the ocean.
I’ve read this is an increasing threat to surface and subsurface traffic. Containers fall off of ships for various reasons, and then depending on bouyancy the float on the surface, just below the surface, well below the surface, and slowly descend into the depths. Good reason to be double hulled in the container shipping lanes.
A MAD could locate them, and so can passive SONAR (background noise reflects off the object and is processed as a solid object by the ‘SONAR’ on the sub) but subs don’t use MADs, and ya gotta be good and advanced to employ passive SONAR.
Correction — boomers don’t use MADs
I think the captain must have thought he was just scraping off barnacles on the conning tower.
they generally don’t want to do that as it reveals their own location.
In peace time??? It would make no never mind.
It's hard to navigate by landmarks when you're under water. Subs navigate through inertial navigation systems.
I am amused you think everyone should understand your military jargon. I am especially amused at your references to “boomers”. You are of course referring to old hippies I presume?
Hmmm...Sky News stated that the Brit sub hit the French sub........
conforming = confirming
I have to think that they wouldn't want anyone knowing where they are at any time because then an enemy could shadow the sub to gather acoustic signature data. Of course I could be wrong.
Ensure that they didn't require assistance to prevent loss of life. That is the norm when ships collide.
I'm going to assume nuclear missile boats are under orders to avoid conforming their location to anyone, even allies when at sea. If there were enemy attack boats lurking about and the captain uses the sea phone to contact the froggie, he has just identified his boat and the enemy can now identify by name the boat by its sound profile.
And you're assuming that the sound of two large vessels colliding went unnoticed. If an enemy SSN was in the area he heard the collision and had the position. If he couldn't hear anything accept for the underwater phone, then he still wouldn't have anything would he?
Operational security trumps all other concerns.
Actually, it usually doesn't during peace time. Its not like the Captain was having to "give up the ship". He would have at most given away a position that was already compromised by the collision.
One of us was qualified to deliver nukes, and I'm thinking it wasn't you.
if the captain indentified himself and his boat, then he has just told the third boat who he is, who the ship is and put a confirmed name to the sound profile the enemy boat would be generating.
The Russian SSN that waits just off shore in international waters to pick up the SSBN as it comes out already has that opportunity.
During peace time, no ship commander is going to have a collision with another friendly ship and knowingly leave the scene.
1. Having a Russian SSN trail one of their SSBNs during normal ops.
2. Leaving a U.S. or French submarine crew to die after fleeing the scene of an accidental collision?
I'm going with #2, and sticking with the assumption that the British were just as clueless as the French as to what the other party in their collision was.
Good for you. Did they also offer classes in being a prick or is that natural talent?
To be consistent, I'll stick with the second choice on that one too. I apologize, I've been doing fairly well on keeping it under wraps lately, and I broke one of my own rules in throwing the background info out as an Ace. It is not uncommon that a well read, intelligent individual has a better grasp on things than someone that has more experience, but less knowledge.
Looking for a sunken oldsmobile..............
One might need to look at the end of some long pier’s.
Or along some piers with highways running alongside them! LOL.