Vanguard Class nuclear submarine at HM Naval Base Clyde, home of the British Submarine Service at Faslane, Argyll and Bute. Photo/British Ministry of Defense
LONDON – Britain almost lost one of its four Vanguard-class nuclear submarines, because the ship’s decades-old main equipment malfunctioned.
The Sun reported this on Sunday (19/11/2023). “Disaster nearly occurred when a submarine armed with Trident II nuclear missiles was preparing to begin a patrol mission in the Atlantic,” the tabloid report said, without disclosing the date of the incident.
According to sources who spoke to The Sun, the depth indicator on the Royal Navy ship had been damaged. This led commanders to believe the submarine had stopped descending, when in fact the ship continued to go deeper.
“The vessel with 140 crew members reportedly nearly reached the danger zone, where it would have collapsed due to water pressure if not for engineers who spotted the problem through a second gauge at the rear of the submarine,” the report said.
“It’s not the engineers’ job to control the depth of the submarine but they saw how deep the submarine was and realized something was wrong,” the source said.
The source added, “The problem was identified at a depth that we know (the submarine) can operate, although if it continues there is no point in thinking about it.”
The Sun noted they could not name the submarine or the unsafe depth at which it sank for safety reasons.
According to the tabloid, “If the sub continues its descent, such a disaster would also trigger a desperate rescue mission to find the secret ship and its nuclear reactor before the Russians arrive at the scene.”
A Royal Navy spokesperson told The Telegraph that, “While we do not comment on specific details regarding submarine operations, the safety of our personnel is always a top priority.”