Submarines 'may have hit each other several times'

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THE British and French submarines that collided in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month while carrying nuclear missiles may have hit each other several times, it emerged yesterday.

It now appears the French vessel, with an arsenal 1,000 times more powerful than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima, suffered much more serious damage than officials have admitted.

The Royal and French navies claimed earlier this week that the two submarines, HMS Vanguard and Le Triomphant, "briefly came into contact at a very low speed while submerged".

The French navy announced the damage to Le Triomphant was limited to the glass and composite domed structure that houses its Thales sonar at the tip of her bow.

HMS Vanguard was reportedly seen returning to base at Faslane with scrapes and dents to her hull.

But now it has been revealed that Le Triomphant suffered significantly greater damage, with impacts to at least three separate parts of her structure.

Le Triomphant is currently moored at its base of l'Ile Longue, near Brest in Brittany, where its conning tower and the starboard sail plane attached to the conning tower are visibly deformed by the incident, the French regional daily newspaper, Ouest France, reported yesterday.

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