Despite delay tactics, Royal Navy submarine found to have nearly capsized Irish trawler

© Tyrone Siu
Navy incompetence put an Irish trawler crew at risk after one of its submarines became snagged in a net and nearly capsized the ship.

An investigation into the Irish Sea incident in 2015 found that the navy was guilty of poor planning and had not cooperated with authorities.

The military waited five months to confirm that one of its submarines had been involved and then another ten months to provide evidence.

The service was accused of “insufficient planning” and of failing “to follow guidance on fishing vessel avoidance” on a day when 61 trawlers were operating in the area.

The incident presented a serious risk both to the trawler and its crew, and the submarine itself, the report by Marine Accident Investigation Branch argued.

The trawler’s skipper spared no blushes in his assessment that the navy had been playing “Russian roulette” with the lives of his men.

Paul Murphy, who captains the trawler ‘Karen,’ said he was “furious” and told the BBC that if the navy cannot enter the Irish Sea with its boats “safely dived then they’ll have to come down on the surface.

Investigators found that the report had been delayed by the military’s reluctance “to fully engage” with their work.

They found that the submarine’s crew had decided the trawler was a merchant vessel and that it was safe to pass beneath it.

Commanders decided that “the majority of shipping contacts in the area were merchant vessels” when in fact they were overwhelmingly trawlers.

Head investigator Steve Clinch told the BBC that “there is no reason” the submarine “should have been doing what she was.

The navy need to look at that and make sure that their commanders adhere to the code,” he added.

A Navy spokesperson said: “We have expressed our regret and remain sorry for the incident and delay in confirming our involvement.

We’ve revised our procedures to reduce the risk that such an incident could happen again.

The spokesman insisted the navy was “reviewing the report’s recommendations and continue to work closely with the maritime community to maximise safety.