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British, French nuke subs crash in Atlantic

world Updated: Feb 17, 2009 00:27 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt
Hindustan Times
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A British and a French submarine, both of them nuclear-powered and carrying nuclear weapons, collided in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month, according to reports.

Both the HMS Vanguard, Britain’s first Trident class nuclear-armed submarine, and the French Le Triomphant submarine suffered minor damage.

A British official, on the condition of anonymity, said that the Vanguard’s deterrent capability remained unaffected and there was no compromise to nuclear safety. No members of the crew were injured.

France’s defence ministry said the ballistic missile submarines had been carrying out routine patrols when they collided.

“They briefly came into contact at a very low speed while submerged. There were no injuries. Neither their nuclear deterrence missions nor their safety were affected,” France’s defence ministry said in a statement.

The Vanguard — which is capable of carrying up to 16 nuclear-armed Trident missiles — was towed back to a submarine base in Scotland with visible dents and scrapes, the BBC reported.

The Le Triomphant suffered damaged to a sonar dome in the front of the submarine but returned under its own power to its base on L’Ile Longue on France’s western tip, according to the French military.

Neither France nor Britain would confirm the exact date of the collision, but said it took place earlier this month. France issued a brief statement on February 6 saying the Le Triomphant had struck “a submerged object” that was probably a shipping container.

(With agencies input)