A Royal Navy nuclear submarine almost hit a car ferry with 282 people on board after the sub’s crew misjudged the ferry’s distance and speed, an official report said. Only “rapid and effective action” by the ferry’s crew reduced the “serious risk of collision,” the report said.
The British Maritime Accident Investigation Board studied the near-miss on November, 6, 2018, in the North Channel between Northern Ireland and the southwest coast of Scotland. After the incident, the master of the ferry notified the Coast Guard and reported that the sub’s periscope passed down the starboard side of the ferry at a range of about 250 to 300 feet. (See the picture above.)
The ferry was the Stena Superfast VII, traveling from Belfast to Cairnryan, Scotland; the nuclear sub was patrolling in the area. A lookout on the ferry saw the sub’s periscope, and the crew on the bridge immediately changed course to avoid a collision.
“This incident happened because the submarine’s control room team overestimated the ferry’s range and underestimated its speed,” the report said. “This combination meant that the submarine’s commanding officer and its officer of the watch made safety-critical decisions that might have appeared rational to them at the time but were actually based on inaccurate information.”
As a result of that misjudgment, everyone on the ferry, and also on the sub, was in “immediate danger,” the report said.
A spokesman for Royal Navy said that “ensuring safety at sea is a top priority for the Royal Navy, which is why we welcome this report and have already taken action to tighten our training and procedures.” Read more: