MOD Admit One Of Their Submarines Almost Sank The Karen

However, in a statement released in the Commons in London today (7 September 2015) by the Minister of Defence, the MOD has finally accepted responsibility for the incident.

[caption id="attachment_56052" align="aligncenter" width="540"]The Karen limps back to port in Ardglass lucky to be afloat after netting a submarine last April. The Karen limps back to port in Ardglass lucky to be afloat after netting a submarine last April.[/caption]

The owner of the Karen, Tom Wills, said: “I knew that the matter had been raised in the Commons today and the next thing I knew was I had a knock at the door. Two Royal Navy staff, one a commanding officer, presented me with a letter which effectively admitted that a Royal Navy submarine had in fact snagged our trawler, the Karen.

“They showed me their ID. They also gave me a letter for Paul Murphy, the skipper of the trawler. I’m delighted that this matter has now been resolved finally. The truth always prevails.

[caption id="attachment_56103" align="alignleft" width="390"]A rough comparison of the size of a RN submarine and The Karen. A rough comparison of the size of a RN submarine and The Karen.[/caption]

“Now we can settle down and get on with our fishing. I hope the Royal navy have learned from this and that no vessel gets snagged up again. It can have fatal consequences. Our crew were very lucky. It was the quick actions of skipper Paul Murphy who saved the day by telling the crew to release the wire rope as the boat was being pulled sideways and was almost being towed under.

“If the storm door in the wheelhouse had been open the Karen would have swamped more quickly and sank. It was a very close thing. The whole traumatic incident lasted around ten seconds. The crew were very lucky. Paul was quick to react to the difficult life-threatening circumstances.”

The letter from a RN Rear Admiral explained: “You will now have been told that after reviewing the information available to us, the Royal Navy can confirm that a submarine was involved in the snagging of the FV Karen on 15 April in the IRish Sea. I have also written separately to Mr Murphy expressing my sorrow that he was involved in such a frightening incident and I request that you pass this letter to him at the earliest convenience.

[caption id="attachment_56031" align="alignright" width="270"]Karen skipper Paul Murphy examines the steel ropes that snapped when the submarine towed his vessel backwards at 10 knots. The Karen skipper Paul Murphy examines the steel ropes that snapped when the submarine towed his vessel backwards at 10 knots.[/caption]

“I hope that you will understand that I cannot discuss the details of the submarine operations; but I can tell you that, in this case, the snagging was caused by the submarine not correctly identifying KAREN as a Fishing Vessel. The submarine therefore approached too close to your vessel and became entangled in her nets.

“Since the tragic loss of the Antares and her crew in 1990, the Submarine Service has made the safety of Fishing vessels and their crews our highest priority. I insist on the highest levels of training and absolute adherence at all times to to the Code of Practice agreed with the fishing industry.

“While acknowledging that this is the first incident of a snagging since 1993 and that the Code of Practice has been effective in preventing such incidents, I can confirm that I have investigated a fundamental change to the way in which submarine crews now identify and classify surface vessels. This change will prevent any further incidents of this type and will further increase the safety of Fishing vessels in the water around the UK but I regret that it has been introduced in response to this incident…

“… again please accept my apologies for both the incident and the delay in being able to recognise our responsibility for the damage caused to your vessel.”

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NIFPO Boss Says Questions Still Need To Be Answered

Dick James, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Fish Producing Organisation, said: “The industry has over recent months since the incident in April put the Marine Accident Investigation Bureau (MAIB) under pressure to investigate this incident which it has done. Our Fisheries Minister Michelle O’Neill and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie have also been very supportive in calling for this investigation.

“The MAIB report was very thorough and asked the MOD very probing questions. The MOD are subsequently facing up to this now. ┬áBasically the Code of Practice ie the Protocols agreed back on the 90’s with the industry and stakeholders has not been adhered too. We need to agree a new set of Protocols and the industry needs to meet with the MOD over this issue.

“We therefore need to full establish what has in fact happened and on this basis further look at the Protocols and review them and if necessary amend them.

“Initially the MOD denied it was one of their submarines. It took them almost six months to release this statement from the Commons today.”

Related links: http://www.downnews.co.uk/ritchie-questions-minister-on-submarine-activity-in-irish-sea/    ]]>