Royal Navy ignored their own safety rules in the Irish Sea…

After four crew of a Scottish fishing vessel was drowned when their ship was capsized by a Royal Navy submarine, stringent measure were put in place. Measures which seem to have been subsquently ignored:

BBCNI News reports:

Fifteen miles off Ardglass, the Karen had its nets caught and was dragged backwards for 30 seconds last April. It had four crew on board when it almost capsized and was only saved when its net snapped.

The report continues:

The Royal Navy had shown “reluctance to fully engage” in the investigation and that had delayed the report. It was five months before the Royal Navy confirmed one of its submarines had been involved and 10 months before it provided evidence to the inquiry.

The report found the submarine had concluded that the Karen was a merchant vessel and it could pass under it safely. That was because it did not hear the sonar noise associated with trawling.

It did not know it had snagged the Karen until three hours later and so did not surface immediately to help.

The command team had “assessed that the majority of shipping contacts in the area were merchant vessels”. In fact, most were trawlers, something the inquiry said was “predictable” and should have been identified as a risk.

  • Kevin Breslin

    To make a point of order … the four were nearly drowned for what it matters.

  • Katyusha

    One of the things which struck me about this incident was how the media immediately launched into a “blame the Russians” tirade, and took the incident as evidence of Russian submarines monitoring joint naval exercises. The flimsy logic leading to this conclusion was “If it was an Allied submarine, it would have stopped and surfaced”. Must be the nasty Russians then; at least the British would have had the good manners to stop.

    Or maybe not. It turns out it’s not so unusual. http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/Debates%20Authoring/DebatesWebPack.nsf/takes/dail1989030700030/

    Now, I can accept that the submarine crew could have missed that they had snagged, and almost destroyed and sank a fishing boat. Naval history is replete with accidents caused by misunderstandings, miscommunication and the like. But what can’t really be excused is a) the Navy’s initial denials that they had any vessels in the area, and b) the fact it took them five months to even confirm that one of their vessels had been involved.

    The people need to be able to trust the Navy, that the Navy is actually present for the protection of civilians, rather than treating civilians as disposable or of negligible importance in some ridiculous sham war with the Russians. If the Navy isn’t there to protect civilians, including (especially) those of us at sea, then what is its purpose?

    Then again, given that the Royal Navy lacks the patrol boats and aircraft to properly patrol Britain’s coastline, and the pattern of spending on new procurement for the Naval fleet, the question of what the government views as the priorities of the Navy is an interesting one.

  • Reader

    Katyusha: …at least the British would have had the good manners to stop.
    A bit of googling on that list suggests the British were rather more reliable than the Americans and Russians in that respect.

  • John Collins

    Are you saying that makes this behaviour OK’

  • Reader

    Of course it is not OK. A few days’ delay for operational security reasons wouild make sense; but it is hard on the families. A blanket denial is inexcusable.
    However, digging through the link provided by Katyusha, and a bit of googling – makes it clear that there is a tendency to blame absolutely everything on the Brits as the default option. Trawling is dangerous.

  • Jams O’Donnell

    Made even more dangerous by arrogant submariners, lying UK Admiralty and shoot from the hip UK journalists.