UK nuclear submarines had been involved in 14 collisions since 1979, according to the Ministry of Defence
Angus Robertson, the SNP Defence spokesman and Westminster leader, has been doing a bit of digging on sub near misses and bumps since last month’s mid-Atlantic collision between HMS Vanguard and Le Triomphant.
That was a disturbing enough incident, says Robertson, but when you look at the full list of accidents - including more than 200 fires aboard nuclear submarines over the past twenty years - things look grave.
These incidents are all public domain already, I think, but here is the full text of the parliamentary written answer:
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what collisions involving a UK nuclear powered submarine and (a) another submarine, (b) another naval vessel, (c) a private vessel and (d) a merchant vessel have taken place since 1979; (2) what grounding incidents involving UK nuclear-powered submarines have taken place since 1979.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Royal Navy has no records of collisions between nuclear powered submarines and other submarines and naval vessels, other than the recent incident involving HMS Vanguard and the French submarine Le Triomphant.
The full list of incidents of collisions involving Royal Navy nuclear powered submarines for which the Royal Navy holds records is as follows:
HMS Superb grounding in the Red Sea in May 2008.
HMS Tireless struck an iceberg while on Arctic Patrol in May 2003.
HMS Trafalgar grounded on Fladda-chuain in November 2002.
HMS Triumph grounded in November 2000.
HMS Victorious grounded, while surfaced, on Skelmorlie Bank in November 2000.
HMS Trenchant grounded off the coast of Australia in July 1997.
HMS Repulse grounded in the North Channel in July 1996.
HMS Trafalgar grounded off the Isle of Sky in July 1996.
HMS Valliant grounded in the North Norwegian Sea in March 1991.
HMS Trenchant snagged the fishing vessel Antares in the Arran Trench in November 1990.
HMS Spartan grounded west of Scotland in October 1989.
HMS Sceptre snagged the fishing vessel Scotia in November 1989.
HMS Conqueror collided with the yacht Dalriada off the Northern Irish coast in July 1988.
All the vessels, apart from HMS Superb, which was decommissioned in October 2008, were repaired and returned to service.
Information is not held centrally for the period 1979-88 and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what fires have taken place on UK nuclear powered submarines since 1979.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The records of fire incidents onboard UK nuclear submarines are not held centrally prior to 1 January 1987. Since this date the Royal Navy records provide the following information: 213 small scale fires, that are categorised as a localised fire such as a minor electrical fault creating smoke dealt with quickly and effectively using minimal onboard resources.
21 medium scale fires that were generally categorised as a localised fire such as a failure of mechanical equipment creating smoke and flame requiring use of significant onboard resources. Three fires occurred while the submarines involved were in naval bases, requiring both ship and external resources.