Sunday, February 15, 2009

Vanguard & Triomphant Collide!

UPDATE (2/17/09; 9:12am): Journalist ignorance and arrogance reigns supreme in the coverage of this story ("How could you allow this to happen?! How dare you not be perfect!? You could have destroyed the world!!! etc. etc.) *YAWN* ... meanwhile, beyond the hype, it turns out that events were apparently much less dramatic that has been portrayed by the media & anti-nuke groups:

French and British sailors did not realise their nuclear submarines had crashed into each other until their governments got in touch over the incident, France's defence minister admitted Tuesday.

After the French navy announced on February 6 that Le Triomphant had hit an unidentified object under water, British officials approached them "and said 'well hey, we also had a problem'," Herve Morin said on French television.

Original post follows below....

The British press is reporting that one of their SSBNs, the HMS Vanguard, collided with the French SSBN Le Triomphant in the "mid-Atlantic"...
[Vanguard] was last night towed into Faslane in Scotland, with dents and scrapes visible on her hull. Triomphant limped to Brest with extensive damage to her sonar dome.
Details of course are still sketchy. According to the UK Daily Mail:

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.


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.
This makes it sound as if one of the boats was headed to PD and collided with the other which was masked by the wave action of "heavy seas" near the surface. But that of course is sheer conjecture on my part at this point.

I once enjoyed Christmas dinner as a guest aboard HMS Vanguard--a massive, lovely ship that the Brits are very proud of. It would be a terrible blow if she can't return to sea.

Stay tuned.


At 8:29 AM, Blogger Budd said...

Interesting that it had to be towed into port. Most of the time, if the sub is still afloat, it can make it in on its own. Wonder if the shaft was crippled somehow.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Richard said...

I doubt she had to be towed back, as most of you know the boat will be meet at the bouy by tuggs which will help when berthing.

At 7:19 AM, Blogger WillyShake said...

Yeah, Richard, I think you're right--journalists jumped to conclusions out of ignorance of submarine standard op. procedures.

At 12:01 PM, Blogger jeff said...

Well, I guess that sort of proves they're invisible to other subs...

At 4:33 PM, Blogger DJMooreTX said...

I'm a civilian, not a submariner, so pardon my ignorance, but:

I'm surprised at the repeated mention in news coverage of sonar. I thought subs routinely ran without sonar, since it essentially continuously announces their presence -- and the whole point of the sub service is, as Jeff suggests, to be invisible. With that understanding, it seems to me that the collision is actually evidence that the crews were doing their jobs awfully damned well.

I also have the impression that many reporters think that you have two subs wandering around at will in a giant empty space, when in fact subs follow certain natural routes based on sea-floor topography. Am I wrong on this?

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