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Stranded British submarine damaged in tug collision

Braitain's nuclear submarine HMS Astute

LONDON (AFP): Britain's newest nuclear submarine, which became stranded on a sandbank off the coast of Scotland last month, has now been damaged in a collision with a tug that came to rescue it, the Navy said.

The one-billion-pound HMS Astute was towed free on October 22 after its rudder got stuck while undertaking sea trials near the Isle of Skye.

It was freed by tugs ten hours later but collided with one of the rescue vessels, thought to be the Anglian Prince, heaping further embarrassment on the country's military.

"There was a collision between Astute and a tug, which resulted in damage to the submarine's starboard foreplane," a Navy spokesman said Wednesday.

"This will be repaired at Faslane (naval base) and trials will resume in due course."

It is thought that the incident occurred between the Isle of Skye and the mainland as crew was being transferred from the shore to the submarine.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed the incident in a statement and said investigations were underway to determine the extent of the repairs.

Astute was commissioned into the Navy in August after being named and launched by Prince Charles's wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2007.

The 7,800-tonne craft's nuclear reactor means it will never have to refuel in its 25-year lifespan and is capable of circumnavigating the globe without resurfacing.

The vessel, which was built by defence firm BAE Systems in Cumbria, northern England, can carry a mix of up to 38 Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The incident came a year after British and French submarines collided in the Atlantic, damaging both vessels.


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