British, French nuclear subs crash in Atlantic: report

LONDON, Feb 16, 2009 (AFP) - A British and a French submarine, both of them nuclear-powered and carrying nuclear weapons, collided in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month, the Sun newspaper reported on Monday.

The tabloid said HMS Vanguard and France's Le Triomphant were both damaged in the incident, but there were no reports of damage to the nuclear parts. The British sub has now been towed to Faslane in Scotland for repair.

Both vessels -- between them carrying about 250 sailors -- were reportedly submerged and on separate missions when they crashed on February 3 or 4.

The Ministry of Defence refuses to comment on submarine operations but a spokesman said: "We can confirm that the UK’s deterrent capability has remained unaffected at all times and there has been no compromise to nuclear safety."

HMS Vanguard is one of four nuclear submarines operated by the British military as part of its Trident system, and one is always on deterrent patrol.

Each vessel is 150 metres long and 13 metres in diameter, and can carry up to 48 nuclear warheads on a maximum of 16 missiles.

Source: AFP

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