LONDON, Feb 16 – A British and a French submarine, both of them nuclear-powered and carrying nuclear weapons, collided in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month, the Sun newspaper reported on Monday.
The tabloid said HMS Vanguard and France’s Le Triomphant were both damaged in the incident, but there were no reports of damage to the nuclear sections of either vessel. The British sub has now been towed to Faslane in Scotland for repair.
Both vessels – between them carrying about 250 sailors – were reportedly submerged and on separate missions when they crashed on February 3 or 4.
The Ministry of Defence refuses to comment on submarine operations but a spokesman said: "We can confirm that the UKs deterrent capability has remained unaffected at all times and there has been no compromise to nuclear safety."
HMS Vanguard, launched in 1992, is a Vanguard class SSBN (Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear) vessel, one of four such submarines tasked with maintaining the country’s independent nuclear deterrent. The vessel has 16 missile tubes capable of firing the Trident II D5 missile. Each missile can deliver up to 12 warheads.
Triomphant, launched in 1994, is one of four Triomphant Class submarines serving with the French Navy. It carries 16 M51 SLBM missiles and forms part of France’s nuclear deterrent force.