Royal Navy branded 'arrogant' after frigate tells Irish trawler to move away from submarine drill
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Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster was on a training exercise with a submarine 60 miles off the Irish coast when it made the call to the fishing vessel Marliona.
But the incident, which took place last week, has sparked outrage in Ireland, with political leaders branding the Royal Navy ‘arrogant’.
The Senior Service has insisted the exchanges between the two vessels were ‘courteous’ and that Lancaster’s presence in the waters and actions were ‘lawful’.
However, John Brady, Sinn Féin spokesman on foreign affairs and defence, lashed out and said the Irish government was ‘launching an investigation’ into the incident.
‘On one level, we have the outrageous scenario of a foreign power ordering an Irish vessel out of Irish waters. On the other, we have a situation where a British warship was engaged in a joint operation with a British submarine,’ he told Irish news site Derry Now.
‘The disregard for Irish sovereignty is arrogance of the highest order. But, alongside this we have the endangerment of Irish fishing vessels and their crews by a British submarine.’
It is claimed that two Irish naval vessels and a military helicopter were launched to monitor the situation.
It’s understood the incident took place in the Irish exclusive economic zone, an area outside of Irish territorial waters’ 12 nautical-mile limit.
HMS Lancaster had issued a warning to mariners over VHF radio about the presence of a submarine, the navy confirmed to The News.
The Senior Service insisted the British frigate had operated throughout in accordance with the UN Convention of the Law of Sea and that it had ‘due regard’ for other vessels operating in the area.
A Royal Navy spokesman added: ‘Courteous and professional exchanges between the fishing vessel and frigate operating within the designated exercise area enabled this lawful exercise to continue and conclude safely.
‘The safety of all mariners is taken extremely seriously by the Royal Navy. At no time was there a risk to safety to either the fishing vessel or submarine.’
Earlier this month a probe revealed how a ferry crossing between Scotland and Northern Ireland had to dodge a nuclear submarine to avoid a collision.
Although there was no collision during the incident, on November 6 2018, it was the third accident or incident between a dived Royal Navy submarine and a surface vessel in four years.
The report recommended an ‘independent review’ was undertaken by the navy to ensure future near-misses are avoided.