Navy submarine hits rocks in Red Sea

LONDON (Reuters) - An investigation has been launched after a Navy nuclear-powered submarine hit a rock in the Red Sea, damaging its sonar equipment, the Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday.

The HMS Superb is seen in an undated handout photo. REUTERS/Royal Navy/Handout

HMS Superb hit the submerged pinnacle earlier this week after passing through the Suez Canal, forcing it to surface.

Its nuclear reactor was unaffected and there was no water leakage or environmental impact, defence officials said.

No injuries were reported among the 112-strong crew.

The 272ft long Swiftsure-class attack submarine was about 80 miles south of Suez when the incident happened.

No other vessel was involved.

“There were no casualties and the submarine remains watertight, is safe on the surface and able to operate under her own power,” the MoD said in a statement.

“From the initial assessment onboard the submarine, it is clear that there is some damage to her main sonar which prevents her conducting submerged operations, consequently her programme is being re-considered.”

Commissioned in 1976, Superb’s armaments include spearfish torpedoes.

It is not the first time a Navy vessel has gone aground.

A recent report described how the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Trafalgar struck the bottom of the sea at more than 14 knots off the Isle of Skye in 2002 after basic navigational errors during a training exercise. Tracing paper had also covered vital information.

The destroyer HMS Nottingham hit rocks off the Australian coast, also in 2002, smashing open its hull, while two years earlier, the frigate HMS Grafton ran aground after striking rocks off the coast of Norway.

Reporting by Avril Ormsby; Editing by Steve Addison