back to article Brit, French nuke subs collide - fail to 'see' each other

British and French nuclear missile submarines collided earlier this month beneath the Atlantic, according to reports. Much is being made of the fact that the two subs "failed to see each other", but this is actually quite normal. The story appears to have first broken with a report in the Sun, stating that HMS Vanguard has …

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The French Navy.

According to their official statement, their lads "...did not see or hear anything."*

Presumably: <reverb> BANG!!!! GRRRRIIIIINNNND, SCREEEEECCCCCCHHHHHH, CLATTER, CLATTER, TINKLE </reverb> passed them by then.....

Mine's the one with the panel beating hammer and ticket to Faslane in the pocket.

*Presumably they'll get sued for copyright violation by Arsene Wenger here.

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Paris Hilton

Nuff said

Are these the same subs that had a software 'upgrade' to have winoze as the (nearly) operating system?

Capt Birdseye:- "Oh!!!! new software, lets run the demo navigation program and see how it works"

Paris, she like subamrines because there are full of ........ Oh! Sorry, you've heard this one before.

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Pirate

Ocean is vast, knowledge is tiny

The Atlantic Ocean is indeed a vast place. How much of it do you think is accurately mapped?

While the subs themselves won't be using active sonar, that doesn't stop other folks using it. A nuclear sub in open water (even hundreds of feet down) would be pretty obvious and thus pretty useless. The subs will keep to trenches and other features of the sea floor to camouflage their presence. With only a limited amount of the ocean floor mapped accurately enough to steer a dirty great nuclear sub safely through, the volume of sea actually likely to contain a sub is really rather tiny compared to the whole. Collisions aren't unlikely in this scenario, hence the US/UK cooperation...

Skull and crossbones cos they're nautical...

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Coat

"You arrogant ass, you killed us!"

"Come on Big D, fly!"

"One ping Vasilly, one ping only if you pleash.."

"Captain, We're cavitating!"

"Right full rudder, reversh shtarboard engine!"

"It remindsh me of the heady daysh of Shputnik and Yuri Gagarin when the world trembled at the shound of our rocketsh. Now they will tremble again - at the shound of our shilence. The order ish: engage the shilent drive"

..and more "Красный Октябрь" (Red October) quotes.

Mine's the one with the DVD and Book in the pockets..

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Black Helicopters

An ex crewman of such beasts that I happen to know

thinks that we are getting an *extremely* edited version of what happened!

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@All the people saying the Atlantic is large

Top marks for observation, none for common sense. Odds are they both knew the other submarine was in the area because of intel, it being planned, or simply because they heard the other (speed run, somebody dropped something).

Also, France and England are apparently rather close to each other, on the same stretch of ocean no less. It's surprising this doesn't happen more often - it certainly happened fairly often during the cold war.

Seems we picked up a good few readers from the Sun's website. Next they'll be saying our submarines have to make enough noise so that they'll be heard - muppets.

Hopefully the commander doesn't get in shit for this. I don't want our servicemen to pussy-foot around everything.

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Happy

A thought

Why not add a window to the sub? - and have a watchman keeping an eye out! That should help to reduce the odds of collision from the traffic!

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Coat

@amanfrommars

Yeah.. what he said..

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Black Helicopters

Final scene in James Bond

On the wall behind M's DESK. It's night. Moneypenny sits across

from M, with a steno pad.

M: Moneypenny, take the following release:

A Royal Navy nuclear submarine has been involved in a collision in the middle of the Atlantic. The crash between Faslane-based HMS Vanguard and French submarine Le Triomphant, is believed to have occurred on February 3 or 4.

(pauses)

At present, local authorities believe the incident was an accident.

<Cut to James Bond nobbing the French spy>

<End Credits>

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Silver badge
Pirate

RE: Smell-o-scan

"I bet they could have smelt the french coming." Lol, I bet you could smell both crews afterwards! Just imagine what it must have been like - you're cruising along calmly in your tincan at a depth where your puny body would either get squashed to a pulp by pressure or get frozen by the cold, and all of a sudden there is an almighty big bang! Bet they all needed new pants!

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no coincidence

They'd have been up to some blackops lark like transferring missiles while at sea.

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Joke

Couldn't they...

...have a lookout?

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Windows for war ships

maybe it was a double infection of :-

1. windows for warships (subs) installed in the British and French navy.

2. conficker virus outbreak

who knows ..........

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The question is not how did this happen...

...but what is the point of maintaining these redundant weapons?

Considering how cash-strapped Britain is at the minute, I cannot think of a single scenario in which we'd need a nuclear ICBM-equipped sub at sea.

If we mothballed them and only took them out if a) relations with a large number of nuclear-capable enemies deteriated and b) relations with all nuclear-capable allies also deteriated, I wonder how much we'd save. My guess is lots.

In fact, my initial reaction to this story is disappointment that our government haven't already quietly mothballed them without telling anyone.

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The French drive like lunatics.

No respect for the rules of the road, their own safety or that of anyone else's. Why expect their seamanship to be any different.

I speak from experience. Once had a French girlfriend, very nice young lady she was too. But you wouldn't what to be a passenger in a car she was driving.

Come to think of it last time we spoke Im sure she said something about joining Forces sous-marines.

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Paris Hilton

STBO

Having seen newsreel of Parisian drivers, I concur that it's obviously the Froggies' fault,

Paris, as 1) The name and 2) She knows a lot about seamen...

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In defence of the BBC

This morning I heard a News 24 presenter say words to the effect of "At least their cloaking devices were working".

Years ago, the Beeb had regular coverage of this sort of thing. A brief extract goes: "Left hand down a bit, Mr. Pertwee....Ooh, clang"

Love it, so long as nobody was hurt and no nuke stuff got loose. Valuable lessons may be learned.

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Linux

Whoops pardonnez moi!

Lewis- you have not considered the possibility that one sub reversed into the other. Suggest urgent fitment of reversing system like that on Security vans.

"This submarine is reversing ..honk honk..this submarine is...."

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Anonymous Coward

Huh

And where was SOSUS, presumably not able to pick up either sub?

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Pirate

Collision

Well, at least they didn't collide with a mountain.

Dave

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In my day..

We used to have a dolphin with a red flag swimming in front of them to stop this sort of thing.

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Coat

Propability

As I tried to teach my students during my brief stay at an university:

-The sum of all improbable outcomes is rather likely.

The chances of winning the lottery is rather slim, but the chances of somebody winning it is great. The chances of the only French nuclear missile submarine colliding with the only British counterpart this month is slim. That they during their entire lifespan will collide is a tad greater. That at some point during history of nuclear missile submarines that one will collide with another or something else is likely. The chances of something highly unlikely, but completely unrelated will occur about the same time, i.e. two satellites colliding, is also rather likely. For instance, I have concluded that it is likely that somebody will win the lottery. I also feel confident that somebody else will win another lottery somewhere in the world the same week.

It is fairly certain that I am about to leave. The chances are that I'll get my coat right before I do so.

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Re: @amanfromMars

Are you pair new here? amanfromMars is our pet weirdo. It won't bite you if you don't annoy it and it probably keeps other trolls at bay, in the same way that having a cat stops other cats from pooing on your lawn (allegedly).

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@AC

SOSUS doesn't provide data to submarines at sea in realtime. The most you'll get from SOSUS is "probable submarine within a X km of your current position as of time/date". In any case, boomers in particular barely communicate at all during patrol.

Besides, SOSUS is not inherently any more effective than the systems mounted aboard subs/ships. Modern boomers are built to be impossible to detect - even by their makers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Small place, the atlantic

"So the old Russian gripe about the torpedo on Kursk exploading after a collision with something may actually be not far from truth. Something that has happen once may happen again."

There was a documentary on National Geographic (and presumably shown on other channels) about this. The suggestion was that the Kursk disaster was caused by the use of HTP as torpedo propellant, abandoned long ago by the Royal Navy amongst others, combined with faults in torpedo manufacture and inadequate observance of launching procedures, possibly combined with design issues with the submarine.

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As Above, So Below ?

Two collide

Above the sky.

Two collide

Beneath the waves.

Where next?

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It's obvious

The English were sailing on the left. The French were sailing on the right. They were bound to hit each other.

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Coupl'a points on the ravings of others

1) The Kursk: This incident has no bearing on the Kursk tragedy. Even at the time, everyone already knew that there was an American sub in the area, spying on the Russian fleet operations. Which means it had to get damn close, leading everyone to suspect that a collision was the cause of the disaster.

Due to the partial failure of the salvaging operation, there will probably never be a definitive answer: The USA insists that it was a dud torp (and poor sub design) and the Russians will insist that it was a collision with a nosey and irresponsible Yank sub.

2) The subs deliberately shadowing each other: If this really was the case, one or both captains would deserve to be shot! Hunting boomers is a job for dedicated attack subs, not for other boomers.

A boomer's job is to be always ready to destroy a small country at a moment's notice*. Something that is hard to do if you're playing silly buggers with another nation's boomer. So we'd be talking serious dereliction of duty on the part of the captains, which I judge rather unlikely. No nation will leave the keys to their only boomer in the hands of an irresponsible idiot.

*) Unless, of course, the boomer in question is a Russian Typhoon. Their job is to be always ready to destroy a LARGE country at a moment's notice. Can you imagine 200 warheads each of 200kT** yield? That's gonna leave a mark!

**) More than 10 Hiroshima-sized bombs (13-18kT)

3) Men have died under these circumstances before. As noted in the article, collisions were relatively common during the Cold War. I've read about one such incident where the Soviet sub struck the American sub's sail with its prop. The prop-shaft was bent so far out of shape that the water-seal ruptured. The sub filled up so quickly that there wasn't time to seal the bulkheads, and she imploded just a few minutes later.

(Obviously these details had to be inferred from the damage to the American sub, and the recordings of that sub's passive sonar. No-one on the Soviet sub survived, and I doubt anyone ever even found the wreckage.)

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ian

"French cooperation"

Is an oxymoron.

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A matter of targets...

The fact of both the missle boats being in the same bit of ocean is not as unrealistic as it seems. It is not unreasonable, given the politics of both Britain and France, that both counties would consider the same targets for their missiles. Given that the missiles of both navies have a similar range then the launch points for these missiles are likely to be in roughly similar places. It is unusual then that we have not had a collision before this one - either that or this is the first one reported.

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@Stuart Van Onselen

As regards point 3, there was a pretty good novel about that sort of thing called "To Kill The Potemkin" set during the late '60s IIRC.

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Anonymous Coward

Hull shots?

Have you seen the place? Oh that kind of hull shot. Since the French boat has the damaged bow sonar, what are the odds that Le Capitan was trying to get some holiday snaps, Vanguard caught a whiff of reactor plant on the towed array and went for the quiet button...BANG!

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Tom

What?

"The sub filled up so quickly that there wasn't time to seal the bulkheads, and she imploded just a few minutes later."

Why would a submarine implode after filling with water? Stop making things up.

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Linux

Windows for Subs servicepack 3 delay

Goddam Redmond. I think Ubuntu for U-boats would be the obvious choice

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Joke

Russian subs

Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, two submarines, Soviet and American, come to the surface. The Soviet one is old and rusty; the American one is new and shiny. On the Soviet one, the crew lounges about without any order, and a drunken captain yells at them: "Who threw a valenok on the control board? I'm asking you, who threw a valenok on the control board?!". From the American submarine, a shaved, sober and well-dressed captain, notes sarcastically: "You know, folks, in America...". The Russian captain interrupts him, screaming: "America? America??! There is none of your fucking America anymore!" (Turns back to the crew) "Who threw a valenok onto the control board?!"

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Forward vision

"Why not add a window"

My thought exactly. The sub in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea* (appropriately called the 'Seaview') had proper windows in the front, which was very handy for spotting giant octopi, aliens and the like. I know the glass has to be be pretty thick, but it must be worth it, surely?

*A TV series in the sixties, for you younger viewers.

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A Popular Place For Subs Clubbing Found

Just both three (-: were searching a right place to read YouTube better for one sat's down from top.

Wanna get really shocked?

A Boeing airliner crushed into Trans-Siberian railroad near Perm, Russia on September 14th, 2008. It happened to be Dmitry Medvedev's birthday [in ancient tradition, Medvedev = son of a man whos "druidic" name is Bear]

The flight commander's surname was Medvedev.

There were three more passengers with this surname.

On the coat of arms of Perm there's a white bear carrying a book on back.

Assistant to the president gen. Troshev died in this crash.

Near Perm disappears the trace of Mikhail Romanov, who was supposed to inherit the Russian throne being alive for at least a solar circle after Nikolai's renunciation.

What else... a couple of days later - banking crisis is announced.

Officially: 2nd pilot was drunk, autopilot switched to manual right before the landing approach. Some say these events are impossible to be directed by a human and it's a magic fighting of egregors for the future events. A kind of a black mess was allegedly conducted. Boo?

Oh, nearly forgot... 88 died.

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Paris Hilton

Top Subs

They were just messing in the sea with the Frenchies, I can see it now....

Sub Captain - "We'll hit the breaks and he will sail right by......."

Paris - because she's been rear-ended before... I have video proof...

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Happy

@ Lewis

Next time you are on interviewed the telly try looking *at* the camera. Staring at the floor makes you look shifty.

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Alert

Watch it Mr. Eastwood...

The British government seems more interested in convincing us that their sub was "fully able to launch missiles" despite the mishap, rather than address the real issues that should be taking centerstage - what if the men on the subs had died?, what if there was a nuclear spill?

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common practise?

@AC

The koersk sunk because the feul used in one of their test torps made contact the metal of the torp and caused a chemical reaction.

Also note that this event isnt as a rare as people think it is. British as well as Us navy subs have collide with fishing trawlers, russing subs, whales and several other undisclosed objects.

@AC

A sub that isnt moving is easily detected one would only have to search for a " hole in the water " Its of strategic significance that subs keep moving around and only surface to receive comunications or to resuply.

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Black Helicopters

Black Helicopters?

Hmm. Maybe both were investigating some magnetic anomaly and collided?

Would explain a few things...

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Paris Hilton

other side of story

who knows.. maybe later on we'll hear from the Russians or US about what exactly happened..

Don't forget.. these two were boomer subs with nuclear missiles.. they are being usually trailed or looked after by attack subs... in this case the Russians would be probably trying to track these down... and when the two hit they might've gotten some great audio recordings.. bang.. squeeeeech... bang bang... then someone screams.. oh shite!... in brittish and something in frech... (sorry don't speak french) :)

on the other hand.. maybe the Ruskies or US won't say anything..

paris.. because as it was stated here before.. she loves boat-load of seamen

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Anonymous Coward

@Simon Ball

Curious, are you suggesting that SOSUS detects sonar/radio transmissions from submarines?,

and if so, why is the sub not informed in real time?

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Unhappy

Re: What?

> Why would a submarine implode after filling with water? Stop making things up.

Many/most of the internal watertight doors were likely closed immediately, and the engine room (or whatever they call the space nowadays) filled with water. The engine room space is so large that the submarine cannot help but sink when it is flooded.

Assuming deep water, shortly thereafter the remaining compartments began to implode, and/or the doors gave way. Not a pleasant way to go, knowing for a minute or several that you are utterly doomed.

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hj
Alert

Plot for next Bond movie

So if i understand correctly ther are only a few places where those subs go? If I am a hostile nation / Dr. Evil all I have to do is find out where this collision happened and I will destroy at least one nuclear sub with one bomb from my special vulcanic island layer?

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Paris Hilton

Ramming

Ramming was all the rage 150 years ago when the armoured warship got invented. Nice to see the French are up to speed with recent developments in naval warfare.

Paris, because ... y'know ... ramming.

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Paris Hilton

shuly

The bigest romm in a boomer is the misile room, do you not remember the sceme from Red October? "Hey, Ryan, be careful what you shuut at. Most thingsh in here don't react too well to bulletsh".

Paris, our expert in shooting seamen

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Anonymous Coward

Lewis Page on BBC

I for one was really surprised.

He was absolutely nothing like what I had imagined.

And strangely enough, he never once told the BBC reporter that the Navy should have bought American submarines instead of developing our own.

So who was he and what has he done with the real Lewis Page?

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Anonymous Coward

w00t! Lewis on the Beeb!

Nice tie.

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