The Evening Mail has reported on the Marine Accident Investigation Branch’s findings on the incredible incident in April 2015 when a submarine (likely to be carrying nuclear warheads) dragged a fishing boat across the Irish Sea. Why isn’t this headline news across the UK we wonder?
THE lives of four fishermen were put in danger when a Barrow-built submarine became tangled in a trawler’s nets and dragged it across the Irish Sea.
The Karen was trailed backwards at a speed of seven knots – around eight miles an hour – after the sub snagged in the prawn trawler’s nets 15 miles from Ardglass in Northern Ireland.
The sub’s crew was unaware until three hours after the collision, which happened in April 2015. Part of the trawler’s deck had to be lifted and another section was ripped off but the four crew escaped unharmed.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch report said the accident occurred because the submarine’s command team detected no noise of trawling.
In its findings, the MAIB said: “The submarine’s command team had assessed that the majority of shipping contacts in the area were merchant vessels.
“However, most were actually trawlers; this was predictable and should have been identified as a significant risk to the safety of the submarine and other vessels when preparing the submarine’s passage plan.
“Had the submarine’s command team appreciated the high density of fishing vessels and then followed Royal Navy guidance on fishing vessel avoidance, the accident would have been avoided because the submarine would have been slowed down and returned to periscope depth when the density of shipping increased.”
The Royal Navy has been criticised for its failure to engage with the investigation.
Steve Clinch from the MAIB said: “Eighteen months ago, the actions of the command team of a Royal Navy submarine placed the lives of the crew of the trawler Karen in danger.
“Regrettably, the reluctance of the Royal Navy to fully engage in the subsequent investigation resulted in this report taking significantly longer to deliver than would normally be the case.
“The accident happened because of insufficient passage planning by the submarine’s command team and their failure to follow guidance on fishing vessel avoidance.
“Had its trawl warps not parted, it is almost inevitable that Karen would have capsized and sunk; the collision also presented a very significant risk to the submarine.”
The Ministry of Defence has refused to reveal which submarine was responsible.
However, one retired submariner told the Evening Mail it was “highly likely” that the boat involved would have been carrying nuclear weapons, meaning it would have been a Vanguard-class submarine.
“The only thing the MoD is more secretive about than nuclear-powered submarines is submarines carrying nuclear weapons,” the Lancashire-based submariner said.
“Considering the MoD has in the past released extensive detail about incidents involving other submarines, such as Astute grounding in 2010 or onboard HMS Turbulent in 2011 when the reactor overheated, it’s highly likely the secrecy surrounding the identity of the sub involved in this instance is because it was carrying nuclear weapons.”
The four Vanguard boats – Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance – are all in active service and are due to be replaced by four Successor-class submarines from around 2028.