Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

French, British Boomers Collide

Last week, I noticed a small story about the French SSBN FS Le Triomphant (S 616) returning to port after colliding with what was described as likely being a "shipping container". Today comes word that the collision wasn't with a piece of nautical junk -- it was with the British ballistic missile submarine HMS Vanguard (S 28). Excerpts from this article:
French Navy sources confirm that Le Triomphant, one of four strategic nuclear submarines of the ‘Force de Frappe’ (Strike Force), was returning from a 70-day tour of duty when it collided with HMS Vanguard.
During heavy seas in the middle of the night between February 3 and 4, French sailors heard a loud ‘bang’ that all but destroyed the submarine's sonar dome.
This part of the boat should have detected the Vanguard in the first place, but Le Triomphant’s crew of 101 neither saw or heard anything before the collision.
Between them the submarines had 250 sailors on board...
...The French last night also tried to play down the collision, with a Navy spokesman saying: ‘The collision did not result in injuries among the crew and did not jeopardise nuclear security at any moment.’
Le Triomphant took at least three days to limp back to her home port, although she did not have to be towed.
HMS Vanguard, by contrast, apparently had to be towed back to her home base in Faslane, Scotland.
As expected, the British press is trying to make the potential consequences of the accident as scary as possible, as they normally do whenever the word "nuclear" is used. Submariners know that accidents like this are always possible when countries that don't coordinate waterspace management for certain boats operate in the same waters, but the "big ocean / little ship" theory normally keeps it from happening. In this case, it apparently didn't.

And I'm not sure whether this means that the British and French boomers are both really quiet, or their passive sonar isn't quite as good as advertised, or a little of both.

Update 0414 16 Feb: Here's the CNN story on the reported collision. I love how it mentions that "Royal Navy Vanguard Class submarines are equipped with collision avoidance radar, according to the Royal Navy Web site", as if the radar would have been any use in an underwater meeting between two submerged submarines. For more updates, this post by Chap over at the USNI Blog looks like it might be a good place to go.


Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

Welcome back Joel!! How did everything go?

I took a tour of the HMS Vigilant once in Port Canaveral. Pretty neat boat.

Any word on casualties?

2/16/2009 4:51 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Actually, my surgery isn't until tomorrow. No word on casualties yet. I probably won't be able to update this post now that I'm blogging by phone, so check out Chap's post for updates.

2/16/2009 5:55 AM

Blogger blunoz said...

OMG - I can't stop laughing! "Royal Navy Vanguard Class submarines are equipped with collision avoidance radar, according to the Royal Navy Web site." I often find media reports about submarines inaccurate, but that's just friggin hilarious!

Thanks for taking the time to post this Joel. I hope all goes well with your surgery tomorrow and will be praying for you.

2/16/2009 6:02 AM

Blogger silverback said...

"I often find media reports about submarines inaccurate, but that's just friggin hilarious!"- I find media reports on any subject that I am intimately familiar with, to be flawed at best. That being the case, one could surmise that all media reports are inaccurate to some degree.I frequently wonder when reading or listening, do reporters have any independent knowledge of any subject in the universe?

2/16/2009 7:24 AM

Anonymous Spade said...

"Royal Navy Vanguard Class submarines are equipped with collision avoidance radar, according to the Royal Navy Web site"

I'm convinced journalism majors are all people who didn't want to work in other liberal arts majors because things like, say, history, involved doing too much research.

And every day I find myself feeling more right about that.

2/16/2009 8:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone alerted CNN to their folly. The line about "collision avoidance radar" has been edited out. The Dailymail article still mentions something to that effect.

2/16/2009 8:47 AM

Anonymous Douches said...

"contact with naval commanders & government officials are maintained at all times by a 'comprehensive network of communications installations'"

So the Brits have solved the problem of comms at depth and speed?

2/16/2009 9:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget the "collision avoidance radar,"
Why didn't they use the MK1 Mod0 Eyeball to avoid the collision?

Oh, yeah. they had the screen doors closed.

seriously, the good news is that nobody was injured.

2/16/2009 9:31 AM

Blogger Mark said...

Some other good news: this probably means the French don't know what we sound like. Great success!

2/16/2009 10:16 AM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

I noted that one of the reports said it was heavy seas. Assuming that both the Brits and the French have a reasonable amount of soundquieting in their SSBNS then it was two holes in the ocean stumbling around in noisy seas at nearly the same patrol depth. Sounds like the French need to get on board with Brit/US water management. But realizing the number of patrols all of the SSBNs of all three Western nations have taken, the fact that this is the first collision is a sign of good detection and collision avoidance by all concerned.

2/16/2009 11:53 AM

Anonymous Punkindrublic said...

How would anyone get France to participate at even the most rudimentary level of WSM? In a country where road lane markings are just "suggestions" I doubt it would register until things went BOOM. Two acoustic holes "passing in the night" isn't smart without good WSM for all concerned.

2/16/2009 3:02 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

No casualties either end.

Consider that the collision may have been mutually arranged. We know only some very bad press has been generated for extremely costly nuclear missile submarine forces of 2 EU countries, both currently debating whether or not to fund their respective programs into the future. The bad press would likely have been intended to help political opponents of military spending in France and the U.K. kill further funding.

The U.K. would get an excuse not to carry some of Nato's load without confronting the U.S., losing face as a strong ally, and hampering the "US-UK special arrangement".

France would get a very convenient "out" for a nuclear deterrent it never needed in the first place.

In the current economic crisis, both countries need funds for critical needs elsewhere.

Would the U.S. see through such a gambit? Yes, but nothing to that effect would ever be uttered publicly (violates diplomacy).

2/16/2009 5:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you expect from a country that names their strike force after a milkshake?

2/16/2009 7:30 PM

Blogger Harry Buckles said...

Perhaps we name a milkshake after their strike force?

2/16/2009 8:33 PM

Anonymous canadian said...

Hey Bubblehead, my thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family tomorrow during your operation. God keep you safe. Canadian.

2/16/2009 9:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even though both are boomers, me suspects one detected the other and was attempting to track and ID . . .

2/16/2009 9:49 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

I can only surmise that one was looking for the other. My one experience with FS's is that they 'inform' NATO of the water they will be using. That was how we went around one on the way to Scotland. Still, quiet or not it is pretty damned hard to hit a sub unless you are 1-not looking or 2-you are deliberately trying to get close.

Given the possibility of serious damage or loss; however, I cannot believe either CO would be interested in an orchestrated event. That fails the stupidity check. Even the frogs aren't that dumb.

2/17/2009 1:03 AM

Anonymous ex SSN Eng said...

Pulled into a French port once-upon-a-time with a front-line U.S. SSN...whereupon we were greeted by a frog diesel boat at PD with no prior notice. There was pretty much zero doubt what he was up to.

CO elected to charge their periscope at a full bell. That woke 'em up. They commenced snorkeling, and a P-3-like aircraft that had been observed loitering over land came swooping in, apparently to let everyone know they were there flying cover.

Local ops coincidence? thinks not.

2/17/2009 6:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pah - bomber queens ! Probably find that both boats had a DVD running at the same time and were blissfully waiting for Sunday lunch. Imagine, after the collision they might even have had to change depth - now that must have been frightening for them!

2/17/2009 6:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

>Today comes word that the collision wasn't with a piece of nautical junk--it was with the British ballistic missile submarine HMS Vanguard (S 28).

How could they tell the difference?

2/17/2009 6:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it true that the French surrendered immediately after this incident?

2/17/2009 8:51 AM

Anonymous Douches said...

My first thought was, Brits were punching holes in the water, Frogs were doing the same. Brits pick up PSUB and go to check it out. CO wants to take advantage of his Perisher training, maybe get some more acoustics, even some underhull snaps. A few zigs, maybe some tomfoolery, and BAM! Froggy surfaces...

2/17/2009 3:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would just like to point out that this isn't about waterspace management, it's about PMI.

That being said, the only good thing about a sub-on-sub collision is you have a really good solution to work from.

2/17/2009 5:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, if the french were that close to a brit boat, were they trying to surrender?

Hope surgury goes well for you Joel.

2/17/2009 7:01 PM

Blogger AB- said...

I can't think that two boomer fags went bump in the night....

wait a minute.....

no, I can't think that's funny...

I digress....

One of the skippers may have been especially froggy (pun intended) and chased something he had no idea what was what. Too bad I can't be a fly on the wall while the play the 1/4" or even better 1" for the Commodore. I'd really like to see who screwed the pooch and was trying to be a cowboy on this one. I guarantee that someone thought they were pulling a fast one and really getting over while bucking for that promotion when they traded paint.

Boomer fags - mind your stack. Please leave the pointy end of the spear to those qualified and that have the intestinal fortitude. Continue to hide with pride.

De Profundis

2/22/2009 8:49 PM

Blogger beebs said...

I read some stories about how the French Resistance resisted the Nazis in the face of horrific torture.

I think it appalling to think the French are cheese eating surrender monkeys.

I admire the french. Both sets of sonar girls must have been asleep.

2/23/2009 3:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone didn't pull the "Radar" bit fast enough before this kid made a "Radar Simulator" app for the iPhone/iPod Touch:

Finally, you can pretend as if you're miles and miles under the sea in a submarine. With the Radar Simulator, you can impress your friends and dazzle your family. It doesn't actually function as a sonar, and the data on the screen is junk, but you don't have to tell them that. -Amazing Sound Effects -Realistic Graphics -Smooth Animations For entertainment purposes only."

However, there is an Ekelund Range app that's nice for sub sims

2/25/2009 2:56 PM

Anonymous catalogo puertas metalicas said...

It can't really have effect, I believe this way.

10/05/2011 1:14 PM


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