A Russian submarine collided with a British Royal Navy warship on patrol in the North Atlantic in late 2020, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense confirmed on Jan. 6.
“In late 2020, a Russian submarine being tracked by HMS Northumberland came into contact with her towed array sonar,” a Ministry of Defense spokesperson said in a statement.
A towed array sonar is a piece of equipment being trailed hundreds of meters behind it when it is deployed and has sensitive hydrophones to listen under the water.
“The Royal Navy regularly tracks foreign ships and submarines in order to ensure the defense of the United Kingdom,” the spokesperson further said.
It was the first collision between Russian and British vessels since the end of the Cold War.
The British warship had to return to port in Scotland to replace the sonar.
It is not clear if the Russian submarine suffered any damage.
A television crew captured the collision as part of a Channel 5 documentary for its series, “Warship: Life at Sea.”
Cameras caught the moment the British crew spotted what they thought was the Russian submarine peaking above the surface of the water.
“We are very close to the submarine. We are probably parallel. If they were on the surface, we would definitely see faces,” Commander Thom Hobbs, the captain of the British vessel, is heard on camera as saying.
The Russian submarine then turned sharply, which was described as an “aggressive move.”
According to UK Defense sources, the collision was unlikely to be deliberate.
“The ocean is a huge place and the towed body is so small that the likelihood of interaction is so low. This is just unfortunate and unintentional. The Russians would not have tried to do this on purpose,” a Navy source told The Telegraph.
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