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Submarine collision...odds?

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Submarine collision...odds?

Old 25th Oct 2013, 08:17
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Submarine collision...odds?

A couple of years ago one of our nuclear submarines had a collision with its French opposite number in the Atlantic. We were assured at the time this was simply an unfortunate coincidence. Now I'm not into conspiracy theories. On the contrary since, mostly, honest cock-up beats conspiracy every time. But, really, what are the odds of a coming together, at the same depth, in hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean?

Of course anyone who actually knows isn't likely to be posting here but as usual we can settle for the usual lightly-informed speculation...before I pop out for a beer with Elvis!
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 08:36
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most likely they were hundreds of miles apart from one or the other and picked up a contact on sonar, classified it as a submarine and went to investigate (most likely using it as a training exercise). the ensuing drama would have involved both subs trying to stay hidden while keeping the other contact under surveillance. so know we are talking of subs only hundreds of meters apart that are both changing depth and headings continuously, and it is not that hard to see why they collided. it's not the first time either. it has happened a few times before. during the Cold War a US and Russian sub collided doing just what I described above. I think the conning tower on the Russian sub was almost torn off from tht collision.
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 08:40
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highflyer, hard to beat that description.

All I might add is that each probably had a discrete patrol area free from 'friendly' submarines.

Equally submariners may sneak out of their patrol area for reasons you describe.

We once dinged a 'blue' sub who was 90 miles outside his designated patrol area and thus a fair play 'orange' target.
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 08:42
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Maybe if they put windows in the front of them then the sub drivers could see where they are going

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Old 25th Oct 2013, 08:49
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The boats in question would absolutely not have behaved as described above - although some other types may well have.

Probability is another term for "odds" and what people tend to forget about probability is that although an event may have a very low probability, that does not preclude the event from occurring.
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 08:57
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Highflyer, as I recall both of the submarines were strategic missile submarines, I always thought that their job was to keep out of the way of everything else to give themselves time and space to launch on order. Yes in the days of the Cold War there were collisions between NATO attack submarines and Russians, a very different set of circumstances.

The fact that they did collide in my view says either that the passive sonar that is meant to be the ears of the sub was not as good as it was thought to be or that both subs had better sound deadening etc than was normally expected.

I have a feeling that most Naval commanders who's vessels hit something normally get relieved of their command for risking their command, I never heard of anything happening?

The collision was reported to have been with a container that had been washed off a cargo boat to begin with until it became apparent that two submarines one French and one British had been damaged on the same day.
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 08:58
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Most likely they were hundreds of miles apart from one or the other and picked up a contact on sonar, classified it as a submarine and went to investigate

Seems most unlikely to me since, certainly in the normal course, the primary aim of submarines on deterrent patrol is surely to remain undetected, and not to go looking for trouble. VANGUARD was on such a patrol, whilst LE TRIOMPHANT was on passage.

Maybe if they put windows in the front of them then the sub drivers could see where they are going

Curiously enough, a well known submarine cartoon shows such a window, albeit in the side of submarine, marked "In case of fire break glass"!

Jack
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 09:08
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I understand the latest Spanish submarines have windows on the underside. So their new fleet can spend lots of time looking at their old fleet!
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 09:16
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IIRC, the USS Seaview had lovely large windows at the bow...
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 09:19
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The collision was reported to have been with a container that had been washed off a cargo boat to begin with until it became apparent that two submarines, one French...... had been damaged
Easy to understand the confusion, both would have been full of crap.



IIRC, the USS Seaview had lovely large windows at the bow...
And spent the entire series running into things.


..

Last edited by NutLoose; 25th Oct 2013 at 09:20.
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 09:47
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When this happened in 2009, the French were not fully integrated into the NATO command structure so didnt de-conflict their submarine movements. Also if Vanguard was on station she would have been doing her best to hide using any hydrographic anomolies such as ocean fronts that she could find. In some circumstances this can very much reduce sonar detection range. The French SSBN although in transit would have been looking for the same anomolies .... two semi blind submarines in the same bit of water ... BANG.
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 10:00
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Good Military Aircrew thread this........
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 10:23
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So, how do you get two missile boats, which normally try to stay away from everyone and everything, to bump into each other?

Well, try sending some assets to hunt for them - couple of attack boats, a few good MPA assets: its amazing how an attack trace and a couple of strings of sonobouys can cause confusion and herd normally solitary species into a confined space!
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 10:49
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So, how do you get two missile boats, which normally try to stay away from everyone and everything, to bump into each other?
Boomers want a quiet area, away from other 'traffic', with good access and escape routes, beneficial bathythermal conditions for evading detection and/or detecting people looking for them. Ideally, not too far from their operating base, they have to get on station without being detected. If you take all these factors into account, it's not too difficult to imagine that more than one nation, 20 odd miles apart at the nearest point, would pick the same bit of water to hide in. At their patrol speeds, they are 'holes in the water', again it comes as no surprise that they didn't hear each other before the loud clang.

Last edited by Surplus; 25th Oct 2013 at 10:53.
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 11:04
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I wonder what their depth was in relation to the bathythermal conditions.
They may both have been traveling at the same depth that made sonar detection harder - sort of drastically reduces the odds of a collision if in one plane as opposed to 3D.
Perhaps (in peacetime at least) such submarines should adapt a separation scheme like aircraft - east at odd or even levels and vice versa for west, whatever suits.
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 11:17
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Perhaps (in peacetime at least) such submarines should adapt a separation scheme like aircraft - east at odd or even levels and vice versa for west, whatever suits.
Or even sail on the surface
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 11:22
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Or even sail on the surface
Even then the Dark Blue still have problems. The fellow referred to below should have gone to a well-known spectacles supplier:

"A Royal Navy officer who was skippering a racing yacht that hit an oil tanker in the Solent has been found guilty of contravening maritime regulations."

"Mr Wilson, who was a serving Royal Navy officer at the time but is now a lieutenant in the reserves, had seen the tanker from five miles (8km) away, Southampton Crown Court heard."
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 11:26
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Lol, just watched it, linky

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Old 25th Oct 2013, 11:37
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Its not that uncommon. Below is a link to a book that many fought to ban several years ago. Whilst it talks mainly about the USN it tells severall stories of "Allied" mishaps !

Amazon Amazon

"Among the more remarkable stories detailed here are the Navy's successful attempts to locate a lost Soviet nuclear sub (which the CIA later attempted - embarrassingly unsuccessfully - to salvage from the bottom of the ocean), the mysterious loss of the US sub Scorpion (along with new information that would seem to finally explain the cause of the tragedy), and the collision of an American sub with one of its Soviet counterparts (just one of a surprising number of such collisions)"

Last edited by Bannock; 25th Oct 2013 at 11:43.
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Old 25th Oct 2013, 17:29
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Agree, an interesting Military Aircrew thread.

Slightly off topic, the USS San Francisco (SSN-711) collision on 8th January 2005 must have had pretty long odds.
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