British and French Submarines in Atlantic Collision

15 February 2009 (Last Updated February 15th, 2009 18:30)

Two nuclear submarines, Britain's HMS Vanguard and France's Le Triomphant where severely damaged in an underwater collision earlier this February. The submarines are believed to have clashed while on patrol on either 3 or 4 February. Although both ships where forced back to port for repa

Two nuclear submarines, Britain's HMS Vanguard and France's Le Triomphant where severely damaged in an underwater collision earlier this February.

The submarines are believed to have clashed while on patrol on either 3 or 4 February. Although both ships where forced back to port for repairs both navies have confirmed no reports of radiation.

The collision occurred despite both submarines being fitted with state-of-the-art sonar equipment capable of locating ships 100km away.

A spokesman for the British Ministry of Defence said that the anti-sonar devices aboard both ships may have been 'too effective' masking the submarines completely from one another.

A spokesperson from the French Defence Ministry said that the incident did not cause any injuries among the crew and did not threaten the nuclear security at the time.

"The submarine came back by its own means to L'Ile Longue port, escorted by a frigate, as it is the usual practice when leaving or coming back," the spokesperson said.

A British Ministry of Defence spokesman said that HMS Vanguard returned to its base in Faslane, Scotland, with only scrapes.

"We can confirm that the UK's deterrent capability has remained unaffected at all times and there has been no compromise to nuclear safety," the spokesperson said.

Like the Vanguard, Le Triomphant is the lead ship in her class of submarine. Each submarine carries 16 M45 ballistic missiles and six warheads, weighs 35t and has a range of around 5,000 miles.

By Daniel Garrun.