When ASW gets too precise: British frigate hits Russian submarine with sonar

In 2020 there was a collision between a British frigate and a Russian submarine. The Daily Mail:

The Royal Navy has admitted one of its warships collided with a Russian hunter-killer submarine in the north Atlantic in what is believed to be the first collision between Russian and British vessels since the Cold War.

The Russian submarine was lurking 200 miles north of Scotland in ‘late 2020’ when the crew of HMS Northumberland was dispatched on a 48-hour mission to hunt it down amid fears it would try to tap into or cut undersea cables essential for communication and the internet.

The Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate sailed into the region where the sub was believed to be hiding and deployed its array sonar – a cable covered in hydrophones pulled along behind the hull – to listen for sounds from the sub.

But in what a navy source has described as a ‘million-to-one chance event’, the submarine passed right behind the British vessel and smashed into the sonar cable being towed behind the frigate.

That’s what you can call precision ASW. Just to be clear, the submarine did not hit the hull of the frigate but the towed sonar, yet nerve-racking anyways. Also interesting that it was caught on film by a camera crew from Channel 5. The footage is a peak into the ASW operations before the collision where the frigate had a firm hold of the submarine, and you also get to see the moment of the collision.

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  1. Sean Carsty Avatar
    Sean Carsty

    The captain was intentionally trying a ‘new tactic’ of getting closer to the sub the voiceover says. Kind of surprising (ro me at least) the way female crew were walking about with a towel round them. Not a terribly discipled ship or captain is my impression. On the other hand, people act strangely around TV crews using the fly on the wall documentary method; it affects the subjects job performance and usually not for the better. I never understand why that kind of access is granted to media folk, when there are so many examples of it rebounding to the PR detriment.

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