Monday, February 16, 2009

British, French nuclear subs collide in Atlantic

LONDON – Nuclear-armed submarines from Britain and France collided in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month, authorities acknowledged Monday — touching off new concerns about the safety of the world's deep sea missile fleets.

The HMS Vanguard, the oldest vessel in Britain's nuclear-armed submarine fleet, and the French Le Triomphant submarine, which was also carrying nuclear missiles, both suffered minor damage in the collision. No crew members were reported injured.

Britain's most senior sailor, First Sea Lord, Adm. Jonathon Band, said the underwater crash posed no risk to the safety of the submarines' nuclear reactors and nuclear missiles. But he offered no explanation of how the rare incident might have occurred.

"The two submarines came into contact at very low speed," Band said in a statement. "Both submarines remained safe."

France's defense 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 ...More

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