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Monday, February 8, 2010

Royal Navy commander admits crashing nuclear submarine

A Royal Navy commander has admitted crashing a nuclear submarine into the bottom of the Red Sea.

HMS Superb Photo: PA

Commander Steven Drysdale was forced to bring HMS Superb to the surface after it hit rocks 80 miles south of Suez on May 26, 2008.

The grounding damaged the bow and sonar equipment on the 272ft vessel, which is capable of carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Cmdr Drysdale, from Miskin, near Cardiff, admitted failing to ensure the safe direction of the Swiftsure class hunterkiller submarine.

Lieutenant Commander Andrew Cutler and Lieutenant Lee Blair, who were also on-board, also admitted failures in their duty at the hearing at HMS Nelson court martial centre at Portsmouth Naval Base, Hants.

Lt Cmdr Cutler pleaded guilty to failing to supervise the plot officer adequately.

Lt Blair admitted a charge of “failing to take into account all the dangers in or near the planned movement of the submarine”, which was carrying a crew of 112.

Judge Advocate General His Honour Judge Jeff Blackett adjourned the hearing until March when all three officers will be sentenced.

At the time of the incident, the Ministry of Defence said the submarine's reactor was “completely unaffected” and there was “no environmental impact” from the collision.

Cmdr Drysdale joined the Navy in 1984 and was appointed commanding officer of HMS Superb in December 2006.

He had previously been navigating officer and then watch leader on the Swiftsure-class submarines Sovereign and Spartan.

HMS Superb, which came into service in 1976, was the first British submarine to visit the Arctic Ocean and sail under the polar ice caps.

She was deployed in support of operations in Afghanistan in 2001 before being decommissioned in September 2008.

The MoD said the accident had not led to the submarine being taken out of service earlier than already planned.

HMS Superb is one of two Swiftsure class submarines. The other is HMS Sceptre. (source telegraph)