BRITISH and French nuclear submarines which collided deep under the Atlantic could have sunk or released deadly radioactivity, it emerged last night.The only thing more unlucky would be hitting an unknown mountain or sump'n ..... testimony to the ships and their crew that everyone came home though.
The Royal Navy’s HMS Vanguard and the French Navy’s Le Triomphant are both nuclear powered and were carrying nuke missiles.
Between them they had around 250 sailors on board.
A senior Navy source said: “The potential consequences are unthinkable. It’s very unlikely there would have been a nuclear explosion.
“But a radioactive leak was a possibility. Worse, we could have lost the crew and warheads. That would have been a national disaster.”
French Navy sources confirm that Le Triomphant, one of four strategic nuclear submarines of the ‘Force de Frappe’ (Strike Force), was returning from a 70-day tour of duty when it collided with HMS Vanguard.
During heavy seas in the middle of the night between February 3 and 4, French sailors heard a loud ‘bang’ that all but destroyed the submarine's sonar dome.
This part of the boat should have detected the Vanguard in the first place, but Le Triomphant’s crew of 101 neither saw or heard anything before the collision.
Between them the submarines had 250 sailors on board.
A senior Navy source told The Sun: 'The potential consequences are unthinkable. It's very unlikely there would have been a nuclear explosion. But a radioactive leak was a possibility. Worse, we could have lost the crew and warheads. That would have been a national disaster.'
As inquiries began, naval sources said it was a million to one unlucky chance both subs were in the same patch of sea.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: 'It is our policy not to comment on submarine operational matters, but we can confirm that the UK’s deterrent capability has remained unaffected at all times and there has been no compromise to nuclear safety.'