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Nuclear sub damaged in collision near Gibraltar

The Faslane-based nuclear-powered submarine, HMS Ambush was badly damaged when it collided with a merchant ship in the Mediterranean at 1.30 pm on Wednesday 20 July. The vessel then entered Gibraltar under tow. 

The Royal Navy said "There are no safety concerns associated with HMS Ambush being alongside". However any collision with a nuclear submarine has the potential to trigger a major accident, particularly if it results in a fire within the confined space of the vessel. The Navy have said that there was no damage to the nuclear-power plant, but have not indicated whether the reactor was running at the time or whether it was shut down by the incident.


Details of the incident remain vague. The merchant ship involved has not been named. Some early reports suggested that it might have been one of three tankers in the area - Vemoil XXI,Vemoil XXV or Eco Field.

This is just the latest in a long series of accident involving British nuclear submarines. Other examples include:

October 2010: 
HMS Astute run aground on Skye

March 2015: 
HMS Talent damaged by "floating ice" when hunting Russian submarines

April 2015:
Norther Irish Fishing Vessel Karen almost sunk by a submarine near the Isle of Man. The Ministry of Defence initially denied that any Royal Navy vessel was involved. They only admitted that it was a British submarine five months later. Northern Irish MPs were told that it was HMS Ambush.