A UK nuclear sub damaged in "a glancing collision" with a Spanish merchant ship on Wednesday limped to its base in Gibraltar as the British Royal Navy began an investigation and Spain's government demanded some answers, reported the Wall Street Journal
The HMS Ambush was submerged when it hit the Spanish commercial vessel off the coast of Gibraltar, said the Journal. The submarine's nuclear reactor was unharmed, but the Ambush appeared to sustain damage to its conning tower, according to photos taken after the accident.
Spain's foreign ministry demanded from the British Embassy in Madrid an "urgent explanations" and details about the accident, said the Journal while noting that Spain has claimed the British overseas territory of Gibraltar for three centuries.
"At approximately (1:30 p.m.) local time today, HMS Ambush, an Astute-class submarine, while submerged and conducting a training exercise was involved in a glancing collision with a merchant vessel off the coast of Gibraltar," said a Royal Navy statement
"We are in contact with the merchant vessel and initial indications are that it has not sustained damage. … An immediate investigation is being conducted. The submarine will be entering Gibraltar later this evening for further checks. There are no safety concerns associated with HMS Ambush being alongside."
The Gibraltar Chronicle
said early reports suggested the accident happened in British Gibraltar territorial waters but the Gibraltar government later said it occurred in international waters.
United States Naval Institute News
said the Ambush had been performing from Gibraltar, a contested British territory at the southern tip of Spain, since June 2015. Spanish residents in the area have protested its presence because of its nuclear reactors,.
British submarines have run into other problems over the past six years, noted USNI News. The Royal Navy Trafalgar-class attack boat HMS Talent struck ice and was damaged while shadowing a Russian Navy ship last year.
The HMS Astute was grounded off the Isle of Skye after being commissioned in 2010, USNI News added.
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