Catalogue of errors led to grounding of Royal Navy submarine HMS Astute

Picture: Malcolm Wells

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A ROYAL Navy investigation has found a catalogue of errors led to the new £1bn submarine HMS Astute running aground.

The nuclear-powered submarine was grounded off the Isle of Skye for 10 hours on October 22, 2010, during a boat-to-boat transfer training exercise.

The board of inquiry report found that there was ‘no dedicated plan or briefing’ for the boat transfer at 6.30am and the main radar was switched off.

‘The planning for the boat transfer was insufficient to ensure safe completion and lacked appropriate command oversight,’ the report said.

Investigators said the officer of the watch had altered the boat’s course, ‘cutting a corner’ to make up for lost time because Astute was running behind schedule. This was not recorded on navigational charts, leading to confusion over the boat’s position.

Communications between the boat’s control room and the bridge ‘failed at a critical moment in the incident’.

The blunders left the submarine stuck for several hours on a silt bank, before it was towed into deeper water by a coastguard tug. Astute’s starboard foreplane was damaged during the recovery operation, after a collision between the tug and the submarine.

Rear Admiral Ian Corder, head of the submarine service, said he accepted the results of the inquiry and that lessons had been learned.