A British warship hit a Russian submarine in what could be the first collision since the Cold War.
A Royal Navy ship, the HMS Northumberland, was sent around 200 miles north of Scotland to track a Russian submarine believed to be in the North Atlantic towards the end of last year – as is routine for the Navy.
Sailors sent out an array sonar line – a cable with hydrophones all over it – to listen out for submarine signals from Moscow’s hunter-killer.
But they had to abort the mission and return home after the cable came back ‘badly chewed up and unusable’, according to a source quoted by The Sun.
The cable, which is as thick as a drainpipe, had apparently been ‘dragged over the submarine’s hull’.
Whether this was ‘deliberate or an accident’ on the Russian’s part is unknown.
Former frigate captain Commander Tom Sharpe said: ‘Ship and submarine detection is not an exact science. It could have been a close pass gone wrong.’
The whole thing was filmed during an episode of Channel 5’s Warship Life at Sea.
HMS Northumberland had been ‘tailing the Russians all night’ before deciding on a ‘new tactic’ – the array sonar line.
Footage shows an alarm suddenly going off as a sailor said: ‘What the hell was that?’
Another crew member shouted: ‘What the f**k have I just hit?’ It was only later that they realised what had happened to the array sonar line.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed what happened, adding: ‘The Royal Navy regularly tracks foreign ships and submarines in order to ensure the defence of the United Kingdom.’
The news comes as tensions remain high between the UK and Russia as an estimated 100,000 Russian troops have gathered at the Ukrainian border.
This, along with the military equipment they have brought with them, has sparked fears the superpower is planning to invade the country it has seized before.
Russia has denied this is its plan but submitted a list of demands to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The US has said it needs to finish its discussions with its European allies, including Ukraine, before responding.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told MPs on Thursday that ‘Russia is the aggressor here’ and has ‘no justification for its bellicose stance towards Ukraine’.
‘Any Russian military incursion into Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake and would come at a severe cost.
‘They have falsely cast Ukraine as a threat to justify their aggressive stance. They falsely accuse NATO of provocation – this could not be further from the truth.
‘They have massed a huge number of troops along the Ukrainian border and in illegally annexed Crimea.
‘It is unprovoked and it is part of a wider pattern of behaviour by the Kremlin, reliant on disinformation and mistrust to seek to gain an upper hand.’
Metro.co.uk has contacted the Russian embassy in London for comment.
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