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.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.
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.
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.