A trawler was towed at high speed through the Irish Sea after a British submarine snagged in its nets.
The lives of the crew were endangered after the Karen was trailed backwards at seven knots in April 2015, 15 miles from Ardglass – one of Northern Ireland’s main fishing ports in the south east, inspectors said.
They nearly capsized but were saved because the nets released after 30 seconds.
Royal Navy submarine commanders were unaware of the collision until three hours after it had happened. They failed to realise they were passing beneath a fishing vessel that had nets, assuming it was a merchant cargo or passenger ship, a Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report suggests.
Call for Navy to “come clean” about incident
The skipper of the trawler has called on the authorities to tell all about what happened.
The Ship’s captain Paul Murphy said: “The Navy have said that they have put in place 12 new recommendations for the (avoidance) protocol and changes but we are not privy to that so the Navy has to meet with us, explain their decisions on it and I think give us some more information on the actual incident.
“If they come clean about exactly what happened, why it happened, where their downfalls were, then we can understand it better and then get on with it but they have to come and talk to us.”
According to investigators it was five months before the Navy confirmed one of its submarines had been involved and 10 months before it provided evidence to the MAIB inquiry. The Royal Navy is accused of showing “reluctance to fully engage” in the investigation and this is what has delayed the report.
The Navy says it is willing to pay compensation and revise its procedures to reduce the risk of such an incident happening again.
Officers did not detect the sonar noise associated with trawling and did not know they had snagged the Karen until three hours later, so did not surface immediately to help.
Part of the prawn trawler’s deck had to be lifted and another section was ripped off.
The skipper said he was “absolutely furious” at how the Royal Navy had conducted itself, claiming there appears to be a lack of information and transparency throughout the investigation.
Insufficient planning caused accident
Steve Clinch, MAIB chief inspector of marine accidents, says the Navy’s reluctance to fully engage in the investigation has resulted in the report taking significantly longer to deliver than normal.
“The accident happened because of insufficient passage planning by the submarine’s command team and their failure to follow guidance on fishing vessel avoidance.
“Had its trawl warps not parted, it is almost inevitable that Karen would have capsized and sunk; the collision also presented a very significant risk to the submarine.”
A Royal Navy spokesman said: “We have expressed our regret and remain sorry for the incident and delay in confirming our involvement.
He added: “We’re reviewing the report’s recommendations and continue to work closely with the maritime community to maximise safety.”
Source: BBC News
Date Published: October 25, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown