The UK’s Royal Navy warship HMS Northumberland in late 2020 collided with a Russian submarine in the North Atlantic, according to a report by news agency BBC. The report highlighted that the British warship was tracking the submarine when it hit the warship’s sonar equipment.
“What have I just hit?” the crew members aboard the British warship said after the collision and proceeded to sound the alarm.
People from the UK’s defence ministry familiar with the developments told the news agency that the collision was not deliberate. The collision was first filmed and captured by the crew of television series Warship: Life At Sea which airs on UK’s Channel 5. The series shows a behind-the-scenes view of life in the Royal Navy.
The HMS Northumberland, a Type 23 frigate, two years was searching for the submarine after it slipped out of its radar in the Arctic Circle. “In late 2020 a Russian submarine being tracked by HMS Northumberland came into contact with her towed array sonar. The Royal Navy regularly tracks foreign ships and submarines in order to ensure the defence of the United Kingdom,” the UK’s defence ministry said in a statement according to British news agencies.
It explained that after tracking the submarine using the towed array sonar – which is an hydrophone used to hear sounds deep underwater – a Merlin helicopter aboard the warship spotted the Russian submarine’s periscope on the ocean’s surface. The submarine dived, hitting the sonar equipment.
Navy officials familiar with the developments told news agency The Sun that it may have been a one-off event and submarine crew would have been surprised. The official said that the Russian crew may have heard ‘a sudden and unexpected noise like a fork being dragged over a cheese grater.’ The official also said that
The warship returned to Scotland as it sustained damages in the collision – believed to be first between the UK and Russia since the end of the Cold War. There were no reports on whether the submarine sustained damages. The HMS Northumberland, however, returned to Scotland to repair the damages.