Monday, October 25, 2010

'Old charts may have grounded sub'

HMS Astute, the nuclear submarine
that ran aground in shallow waters off the Isle of Skye, has been towed free

From TheGuardian

A nuclear-powered submarine may have run aground on a shingle bank because the charts it was using were out of date, sources have said.

HMS Astute was on sea trials when the rudder of the vessel is thought to have become stuck on the bank on the west coast of Scotland at around 8am on Friday.

The Royal Navy has launched a service inquiry into why the 100m-long submarine ran aground in the channel between Skye and Kyle of Lochalsh.

Location on the Marine GeoGarage

One of the possibilities being explored is that out of date charts had not accurately mapped the shifting sea channels off the Isle of Skye.

The vessel is understood to have strayed several hundred yards outside the safe sea lane marked on Admiralty charts.

A Royal Navy source told the Mail on Sunday: "One of the things that is being looked at is if the charts were up to date with the recent seabed changes in the area. The seabed can change quickly."

The Ministry of Defence said the investigation into the incident would be "full and thorough".

The investigation will also consider if any crew were negligent and the submarine's skipper, Commander Andy Coles, could find himself in front of a court martial.
But a Ministry of Defence spokesman said it would be "inappropriate" to comment on the possibility of disciplinary action until the investigation is complete.

It is believed a crew transfer from the shore to the submarine was being carried out when the incident happened between the Isle of Skye and the mainland.
There were no reports of any injuries and the Ministry of Defence said it was not a "nuclear incident".


TheHeraldScotland :
Dozens of people gathering on a nearby beach could clearly see that the Astute was sitting well outside normal shipping channels, and tilting slightly. Ross McKerlach, operational manager at Kyle of Lochalsh lifeboat station, said the submarine was a full six miles from where it would normally lie overnight, and had run aground in water too shallow even for his own small motor boat.
“Where he was is in between two rocks and on a sandbank,” he said.

The DailyExpress :
Independent nuclear expert John Large said the accident could lead to costly repairs, and was most likely caused by a “navigational error”.
Ross Mckerlich, 56, the operations manager of the local Kyle Lifeboat, said he was “amazed” that the submarine tried to do a crew transfer so close to shore. He said: “These subs normally lie six miles off Kyle. Last night I saw this one four miles off and now he’s less than half mile. Someone’s made an error.”

TheScotsman :
Mike Critchley, a former naval officer and the editor of Warship World magazine, said the accident was likely to have been caused by a navigation error or technical failure of the steering gear.
"She was a long way out of where she should have been to do this transfer. It was 800 yards away from where it should have been and grounded in shale and silt and not jagged rocks.

Other links :
  • DailyRecord : HMS Astute heads back to base for checks as commander faces possible court martial over missed warning signs
  • DailyMail : Royal Navy chiefs left red-faced after brand new £1.2bn nuclear submarine is left high and dry off the coast of Scotland
  • TheGuardian : Royal Navy attempts to free grounded nuclear submarine
  • TheTelegraph : HMS Astute, world's most advanced nuclear submarine runs aground
  • BBC : Nuclear submarine HMS Astute runs aground off Skye
  • BBC : Grounded nuclear sub HMS Astute moored for tests
  • YouTube : video taken by Paul Yoxon of the International Otter Survival Fund, based in Broadford on the island