A British Royal Navy nuclear submarine and its French equivalent collided while on operations in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month, defense ministries in Paris and London confirmed Monday.
Both vessels, HMS Vanguard and Le Triomphant, were armed with nuclear warheads and suffered damage but were able to return to port under their own power following the collision.
In a statement issued Monday, the UK-based Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament described the incident as “a nuclear nightmare of the highest order.”
“The collision of two submarines, both with nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons onboard could have released vast amounts of radiation and scattered scores of nuclear warheads across the seabed,” said CND chair Kate Hudson.
“The dents reportedly visible on the British sub show the boats were no more than a couple of seconds away from total catastrophe.”
Hudson said the incident was the most serious involving a nuclear submarine since the sinking of the Russian Kursk in 2000 with the loss of the vessel’s entire 118-man crew.
Meanwhile, SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson has called for a government statement.
“The Ministry of Defence needs to explain how it is possible for a submarine carrying weapons of mass destruction to collide with another submarine carrying weapons of mass destruction in the middle of the world’s second-largest ocean,” he said.