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Unthinkable - British and French Nuclear Submarines collide

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posted on Feb, 17 2009 @ 05:02 AM

Originally posted by Anonymous ATS
Great. Now the US Navy has one more SSBN away from the motherland due to the Brits needing one to complete the scout/defensive routes. Oh well, I highly doubt we will know what actually happened. I am going to go with the person that said maybe they were trailing another sub such as a Chinese or Russian sub? But then again...they are SSBN's or "Fat Cats" as they call them in the navy. Im stumped.

I gotta go along with Schaden on this. They would not be trailing another Submarine or surface ship though they might be aware of their presence. A Boomer would not compromise its primary deterrent mission.

These boats carry torpedos and sonar..but would not operate in a way to compromise their primary mission parameters.

Also for some of the readers and speculators out here..why would they tell you any specifics and further compromise their operating methods and their capabilities.??

I too think this was just a random collision by what is not said in the article. There is a huge lack of informations in the article. Assumptions/speculations on the part of ATS/BTS members are just that ..assumptions/specuclatioins.

As to how many of our boats...Boomers or Fast Attacks are away from the motherland at any tme..we just dont know. We are not privy to such informations. The numbers can go up or down without even many members of the military knowing. They go up and down in spite of accidents like this...our accidents or theirs. Why would us civilians even know this is happening about our numbers going up or down.


[edit on 17-2-2009 by orangetom1999]

posted on Feb, 17 2009 @ 05:54 AM
Seems very unlikely and yet the improbable occurs again hopefully the damage to either sub won't take them out of action for very long and no lives were lost.

I can believe they didn't detect each other given their jobs but I cant help but wonder what this accident could have led to had it been worse I'm sure even now it looks suspicious to both sides.

posted on Feb, 17 2009 @ 12:13 PM
Anyone else notice the strange irony and coincidence that United States-Russian and French-British collisions of supremely high-tech materials have occured in such a short span of time?

What a statement it would be for someone to have the ability take out any electronic equipment of the world's superpowers...

posted on Feb, 17 2009 @ 02:43 PM

Originally posted by Teknikal
hopefully the damage to either sub won't take them out of action for very long

I think this was a slow speed incident, nothing serious. Although I thought I read one had to be towed home ? Might be worried about interference to the propulsor/screw shroud, depending what hit.

Originally posted by TeknikalI can believe they didn't detect each other given their jobs but I cant help but wonder what this accident could have led to had it been worse I'm sure even now it looks suspicious to both sides.

It could be suspicious depending on who hit who and the circumstances. I'm sure if one boat got "rear ended" that side has more of a case to make for damages. If it was a t-bone collision that would lead more credence to it being an accident. I still can't fathom why one NATO SSBN would be trailing another. I'd like to know more details, but an accident sounds the most plausible to me.

[edit on 17-2-2009 by Schaden]

posted on Feb, 17 2009 @ 03:22 PM

Originally posted by Schaden
I still can't fathom why one NATO SSBN would be trailing another. I'd like to know more details, but an accident sounds the most plausible to me.

Could the damage have arisen during a risky joint-sub manouver?

Perhaps a deep-water sub-to-sub manouver such as emergency crew rescue? Or submerged resupplying/rearming?

who knows...the RN will never divulge the reason to the incident as it would give away trade secrets and tactical advantage

posted on Feb, 17 2009 @ 04:41 PM
Those type of exercises usually involve SSNs and DSRVs. I don't think two SSBNs are designed to operate submerged in close proximity to each other. If it was an exercise of some type, I don't think they'd be carrying live warheads. Here's another article with more details. The French boat's sonar dome was destroyed.

The weather was rough in the middle of the night of 3 and 4 February when the British submarine, which was carrying 135 crew, struck Le Triomphant, the flagship of the French nuclear strike force, destroying the French vessel's fibreglass sonar dome, which juts out from the bow and, among other tasks, is supposed to detect other submarines. In London, the Ministry of Defence tried to maintain its policy of total secrecy about the movements of Briain's nuclear fleet, but it was forced to confirm the embarrassing collision between strategic allies after the French Navy posted details of the accident on its website. Both countries insisted that neither the missile-launching capacity nor the nuclear safety of the submarines, carrying 265 crew and 32 intercontinental ballistic missiles, were affected.

posted on Feb, 17 2009 @ 04:48 PM
Reading between the lines, maybe France wanted this swept under the rug and now both are embarrassed when it became public.

posted on Feb, 17 2009 @ 04:51 PM
Which side of the Atlantic do we drive on?

The left, surely.

posted on Feb, 17 2009 @ 05:10 PM
Relax everyone, we the British People, have a remedy, throughout our green and pleasant land are thousands of surveillance cameras, we have decided to donate half of them to The Royal Navy, and half of them to the French Navy.



posted on Feb, 17 2009 @ 05:50 PM
reply to post by Schaden

I doubt they had to be towed home, I think that the media is getting confussed, when the boats get towards land they meet up with Tuggs that escort the boat in to the bearth and assist with menouvering. I dont think there was ever any risk, it could have been worse but hey they got lucky.

posted on Feb, 17 2009 @ 07:57 PM
Well, IMO, it's complete mis-direction...just need to think about it a couple minutes...

* Markets are

*GM requests more $$$ GM, Chrysler seek more gov't aid, to cut more jobs

*Israel engaged in covert war inside Iran: report

*Obama OKs 17,000 more Afghanistan troops

*Facebook Privacy Change Sparks Federal Complaint

*CA is going broke

posted on Feb, 17 2009 @ 08:12 PM

Originally posted by Schaden
Reading between the lines, maybe France wanted this swept under the rug and now both are embarrassed when it became public.

I tend to agree with this statement. What is also apparent to me is that the news media are shilling for certain politicians here who parasite off stories and incidents like this as they clearly understand that the Navy's cannot make many detailed comments about these kinds of incidents. This leaves the politician and news medias free to stroke the fears and insecurities plus the lack of knowledge of the public on these types of machines and operations.

It is quite clear to me that fear and insecurities are the bailiwick of many in the political/media arena and to my line of thinking this discredits the positions of many on this topic. Fear and insecurities are also the bailiwick of many posting on boards like this one.

It is not unusual for a Navy, for political and security reasons, to attempt to keep such a incident from the public. I know of a collision with a submarine and surface ship which never made the press for over two years by which time the boat was repaired and back out to sea.

Conversely, it is not unusual for politicians and their shills, the media, to drag and troll for such informations for political mileage/leverage as is obviously being done in this case. Once again preying on the fears, ignorance, and insecurities of the public.

The comments/replys to the story in the article linked by Schaden in the Independent UK were pretty textbook of what I am describing here.

This is the same kind of thinking the UK and her politicians had under Neville Chamberlain.

It is also the same kind of thinking our poliiticians had here in the USA between World Wars.

Interesting how history repeats itself and how people play into this.


posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 01:27 AM

Originally posted by Schaden

Wow. One in a million chance of this happening. Apparently, both subs were in the Atlantic on patrol and didn't hear each other and had a fender bender. The odds seem unimaginable, when you think about the size of an ocean relative to these ships.

I usually read about sub collisions that occur in the course of a trailing operation, but these were friendlies completely unaware of each other. Goes to show just how quiet a modern SSBN is at slow patrol speed.
(visit the link for the full news article)

Actually as a Submarine Sonar Operator myself for the USN I can tell you that no, they are actually quite noisy. That they haven't hit each other sooner is the amazing part. O! Hey, Shaden! Didn't realize it was you. Even the old shelled out US designs are given out deliberately noisy. I could tell you how and how to fix it, but, that's a MAJOR No No.

[edit on 18-2-2009 by PhyberDragon]

posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 01:39 AM

Originally posted by _Phoenix_
I thought they had some sort of radar to detect other objects?

Maybe I'm wrong..

Actually. It doesn't work like that. RADAR is only good on the surface, after a certain amount of feet both it and satellite are useless. Due to their design's and lack of any real sound silencing capabilities, including the materials which make their hull, only the US has "silent" designs and materials that can evade the ears of the operators and the pickups of the Sonar Acoustic suites. These subs in question, submerged as they were had a hard enough time hearing through their own cavitation (water bubbles) and ship's noise to hear the other guys or see them through their own noise being given off at the same bearing as the other (in reverse of each other of course). Then, you take the courses, headings, speeds, depths, water temperature, water salinity, water pressure, HVK, TMA, Sound paths, sound channels, geography, current, reliability of charts, graphs, and maps, equipment efficiancy of the transponders, arrays, cables, hydrophones, and the transponders, transcievers, classification stacks, etc., etc. and experience of the operators and crews-- as it may have been Navigation, the Officer of the deck, the Captain, etc. or any combination of departments to blame. Either Sonar was lax, or, it was ignored, which is illegal, but, not impossible. And I can easily see it happening. Not to me. But, non US sub's have a higher chance. Soviets are very good, and even they are not as good. Bigger, yes, but then, that's part of their sound silencing ignorance.
This was a terrible accident, but, the designers of the sub are more at fault than the technicians and operators. I'm glad my fellow Dolphin's are ok.

[edit on 18-2-2009 by PhyberDragon]

posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 02:11 AM

Originally posted by whoshotJR
Why were they armed with nukes? I didn't think it was common practice to go on patrol with nukes....

It's standard operating procedure. SSBN's go on long patrols. Their only mission is to stay hidden. It is the SSN's which do all the work. The SSBN's are even well decorated inside, perks of the job. And food and living on all Subs is paradise next to most branches of Service. They, for the most part, no matter the country, sit about 50 miles off of each other's coast's strategically positioned to strike at any time. If the population's, as the governments already know and allow it (in fact, there's not much they don't know about each other and allow, which is practically everything they do), of the US and the USSR (or former, I don't believe it did anything but change it's name) or any other Country knew what was right off their coasts and aimed at them every day they'd freak out. As for near misses they occur, since part of the sub cat and mouse is to sneak up to one another and get close enough to get pictures of their hull number with the periscope. Then, you actively ping the other guys hull with an audible sonar, then, they high tail it out of your area, then off you go to sneak into their ports or off their coasts while they either try to sneak back or go somewhere else and send someone else to take their place. It happens every day, 365 days a week. These guys just got really close to the other guys hull, and the Sonar probably heard them at the last minute, and since none of those guys can determine depth of their contact, they reacted and probably issued an emergency dive or something and plowed right into their cat, having been moused. The cat will have some cool pictures of the hull number to send the mouse I suppose, once they get back and make their report packages to send up the chain who will forward the pictures. But, since the cat was detected by the mouse, the mouse wins that round. I wonder who was who this time. It is common. In fact, it happens more than anything else between subs. Cat and Mouse is an unofficial Game, but, you do need authorization from above when you spot a contact, even your own guys. We nail each other all the time. It is actually good operational field practice, especially if you can sneak up on a friendly. And, it is funner to play when you don't get authority first, because, you are praised if you can get their number and sneak off undetected, and reamed if you get caught. BTW: you have to get really close sometimes to get the number, like, within 50 feet or better, depending on the lighting and cloudy vs. clear water. You have to stalk them for a while sometimes, then, catch them coming up to recycle air etc. The closer to the surface they are, the better to get in periscope range for a picture. You have to be less than 150 foot deep to even use the periscope, and, near the surface, natural biologics make detection harder for their equipment and operators due to all the background noise. But, when you sneak up on an unknown, you have no idea how it may end. You are thankful for all the practice you get in the end, but, it is a very real and very dangerous game, for the crew, and the nation's involved. This can easily turn into an act of aggression which leads to a conflict or war. And yes, even hazardous to the environment, and, yes, a spark of static electricity is enough to detonate an inactive nuke, hence all the ESD shielding, so, fracture those in an electrically charged underwater environment, and they will fill you full of Ocean dispersal ratio's vs. depth faster than you can blink. Lies of course, but, they'll sell 'em to avoid the reality. That is why SSBN's are only allowed to play under controlled conditions. Their job is to hide. If these guys were playing Cat and Mouse, they should be deemed a threat to national security. Otherwise, it was an accident, thus proving they aren't any good at hiding and should be replaced at once. The captains will already be blackballed and relieved of their commands. If not, then, it was an authorized controlled exercise, regardless of what they tell you it was.

I say, it sounds like cat and mouse. But, with nukes. SSBN's are not allowed to play. They are to be hidden and defended only, they are not for search, rescue, recon, multiplatform duties, or attacks, or escorts. They have one mission only-- DISAPPEAR. They failed. I'm glad they are ok, but, submarines are strictly pass/ fail no compromise, zero tolerance. They should not be allowed to return to submarine duty. They should be sent into regular service, not allowed reentry into special services again. That is the Submarine Code. They Failed. No Second Chances.

[edit on 18-2-2009 by PhyberDragon]

posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 02:31 AM

Originally posted by Niall197

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: 'It is our policy not to comment on submarine operational matters, but we can confirm that the UK’s deterrent capability has remained unaffected at all times and there has been no compromise to nuclear safety.

Oh ? Unaffected at all times ... ? Means the Brits had two SSBN's out on patrol at the same time. Seems unusual for a supposedly "minimum deterrent" ... deliberate ambiguity keeps the Russians guessing.

Daily Mail article

[edit on 15/2/09 by Niall197]

As all good swimmers know, when in the water use the buddy system. All submarines are assigned mirrors of themselves, or ghosts, referred to as "sister" ships, one public, the other private. Then there are GHOST or SPOOK Submarines, which simply do not exist. So, of course, I'm just making that part up.

To all that I have said, I must refer you to prior posts I have made, and, would restate here and now for the record as it applies to everything I ever say and do, that:

I can neither confirm nor deny any allegations or accusations you may have as I was neither here nor there nor, to the best of my knowledge, am I aware that such event or events have or had occured, furthermore, I retain all rights, and read, as well as interpret all agreements in my favor as against all other parties concerned or aggragate, named or unnamed, and negate any contract, oath, or allegiance otherwise, and such parties aforementioned are are bound by such terms to so likewise hold me in such favorable readings and interpretations, or such contracts shall be in word and deed, null and void, from cradle to grave of my legal existance, etc, etc. etc. In addition, I suffer from anti- socio disorder with delusional and hallucinatory factors, and an aversion to percieved abuse of authority. I can not be trusted. With that said, I am among the most creative and honest people I know.

[edit on 18-2-2009 by PhyberDragon]

posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 03:24 AM

Originally posted by A NeWorlDisorder
These subs are so quiet it is no surprise that neither captain heard the other sub. Although it does make me think back to the sub that surfaced underneath a japanese fishing boat killing a few on the fishing boat a few years ago. Maybe there is a flaw in the sonar that needs exploring.

I would also like to point out that it would be really idiotic to send out a nuclear missle launching platform ship out to sea without nukes on board. You can't head back to port, load the nukes up, and go back to sea in the event of a nuclear attack. Yes they were carrying nukes on board both ships.

The most dangerous part of a submarine function is surfacing. You get close to the surface and do a few roundabouts with the periscope to check the area clear, of course, if the biologics from the surface and own ships noise is loud and the equipment isn't excellent quality, which honestly applies to the bulk of foreign and many general US subs, then, unlees you react and dive quick a crash with a surface vessel or surfaced sub, close enough, can pose an imminent threat. Then, you go back down angle up and gun it. You do this because you are blind and you don't want something sneaking into a cleared area, and you hope it wasn't cleared sloppily and quick, or, you could be in for a real treat when you surface if you find something there. Then, the cavitation and ownships noise, coupled with the biologics from sea life and winds and waves near the surface, fill your sonar screens with static, because of this rapid ascent, you can't use the periscope which has been lowered, and your atennas, satellite gear and radar equipment have been drawn in and are useless. All you have is one Sonar guy "been my job plenty of times" And if his hearing isn't as off the charts as mine, well, it would be like you listening to a static channel and trying to find a rhythm in there that sounds like a fan which doesn't belong. Good luck. We almost hit a tanker because a LT JG (Lieutenant Jr. Grade) practicing for his quals, mis judged the distance of the tanker in the busy sea lane. If not for my hearing alone, which is all we had, and my calling for an emergency dive, and the fact my crew was conditioned to obey me when submerged and I sat primary, no small feat to remind them, because of these reasons, I legally trump the Captain and can Court Martial him if he disobeys the primary Sonar, that we dived in time to avoid spilling all that oil. After that, I got no complaints about doing what I command them to do. Given that, don't be too hard on the Sonar, in these cases, the crew likely ignored his order or did not react in time, or, he had general hearing like 90 plus percent of the population and just couldn't hear through all that noise. If he did and warned them and they failed to respond, it is an issue that the Submarine community should address and the Sonarman should have manned up and made them respond, because he holds their lives in his hands first and foremost when they are submerged. He is their eyes and ears. You cannot trust compurters that are always being repaired, updated, reconfigured, tested, malfunctioning, limited, etc. Or else, he wouldn't be there. It is a serious duty. Sonar possesses over 80 of all computers on a Submarine, that is too much room for error, no matter how advanced, machines can not be trusted. You must learn to operate them blindfolded, no exageration. I can, but, that doesn't mean the operator was seasoned and may have been learning, even the seasoned vets miss things all the time. How much static can you stand to listen to in 8, 12, or 16 hour shifts?

Respect these guys, not many can do the job. Tens of thousand's apply, but, only less than 2000 at any given time, or less, actually make it. I scored outrageously high on everything, most just slip by, that do make it. And 86% on all tests, etc. is the lowest yoyu can score. No ifs and s or buts. And with all I've outlined in prior posts, of just what is already publically released knowledge, should give you an idea of why. Not only do you have to master all that, but, you must learn every part and position on the boat, since due to it's isolative and hazardous environment, you may find yourself doing anything at any time, on top of your safety, security, and multiple collateral duties, plus, as a Sonar Tech, you must be able to fix and maintain, calibrate, etc, all those computers and sytems, then of course, You have to learn everything about them, plus you have general duties like cleaning, stores, kitchen, watchstanding, yes, even at sea, Top that off with studies for advancement in your rank, plus, advancement in the Sonar to Intelligence and Weapons Department Field. And, your battle stations, and fire, flood, damage control duties, plus Sonar handle all radioactive containment operations, plus you may even be doing correspondance courses for education beyond the NAVY. And then, all the drills, exercises, and information packages, plus all the general Submarine exercises and projects going on, general and Sonar specific. Plus, as Special Forces, you have to qualify various weapons, and training. Plus, you must be ready to go from ship to shore. Diving and Swimming. You have physical requirements you have to meet and maintain, so, you have to alot time on the sub for the little gym area. Cramped quarters, perpetual confinement, irratable co oworkers on top of your own frazzled nerves, sleep depravity, and on I could go.

That's just a Sonarman on a Sub.

And, again, the US has the silence advantage. Adm Walker and Family gave Sound Silencing secrets to the Soviets, so, they are a close rival, but, he had the good sense to give them junk. I can hear them 500 km. away. I've done it more than once, they have to be right up on us, or, in most cases, told right where we are. The UK, sorry, but, you they have clunkers. Colombians in their versions plus the ones Clinton gave them, as well as, Third world countries are noiseboxes that suck. And the Soviets, well, they begin quiet, but, after a few months, they lose it and fall back to UK standards. Again, I'll not say why. It's a NoNo and, I'll say nothing to get my Brothers killed. A Soviet sub I do not want silent. And they are not. American subs are in truth the quietest, that is not a boastful exageration. Accident's happen they are not planned.

posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 03:36 AM

Fast attack subs are the smaller "hunter/seekers" trying to vector and neutralize Ballistic Missile subs.

Close. They are called "hunter/ killers" and that is for a very good reason, as that is exactly what they are. And, as your assessment of what they are trying to do shows, most will never really truly know why.

[edit on 18-2-2009 by PhyberDragon]

posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 03:43 AM

However, even if both ships were to see each other, there aren't any clearly defined rules of the waves for military submarines.
Typically, the rule with military vessels is everyone else gets out of their way... when it's two military vessels, the rules become a little fuzzy.

Submarines have flags, standards, signals, codes, laws, policies, honours, and courtesies just like and unique of their surface ship counterparts. The rules are not fuzzy at all. In fact they are very clear.

[edit on 18-2-2009 by PhyberDragon]

posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 03:52 AM

Originally posted by Ridill
I would assume they were following the same or similar patrol route? Which is worrying, france and the UK were extremely vulnerable to nuclear attack just prior to, and following this incident.

The role of these subs is to eliminate an entire country or continent with overwhelming force in the event their home nation is eliminated by a sneak attack, they have to carry huge amounts of nuclear weapons because their home port would likely not even exist any more if the time came for them to retaliate. They have to ensure they have the firepower to carry out their role at any time.

The commanders of these vessels have to know that if a genuine order to fire is processed, its probable their homes and families have already been destroyed or their destruction is imminent and assured.

MAD is exactly that, hope none of us live to see it.

This is all true enough. What's more, Submariners will survive a nuclear war. They are self contained and cannot be reached by divers, chemicals, or radioactiveity, or the ionizing affects of sound and energy weapons. What, they do exist.

What has always concerned me more is why the Soviets have a carrier anchored in the med surrounded by an armada above and below the water, and has declared that any attempt to come near it by any country, by anyone, would be considered an act of war, so that no country will dare go near it to see what they are up to, and, no one will discuss it either.

That's the real threat to the world, not some fanatic in a cave or a few bombers. hell, we've lost like 8, 000 lives to their what? Pick a low number, I guess. I feel safe.

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