Where: London, U.K.
February 16, 2009 : Last week two submarines, one British and one French, both carrying nuclear weapons, collided in the Atlantic Ocean. Neither British nor French officials could explain how this could have happened with two sophisticated vessels from allied nations. The event proved to be a puzzle and an embarrassment for both navies.
There were no leaks or injuries, but both submarines were badly damaged, and had to return to port. One expert said the ‘freak occurence’ was partly because the submarines are designed for stealth, and added, ‘The whole point of a deterrent submarine is that it is as quiet as possible so you can’t find it.’
The fallout could have been worse, according to nuclear analyst John Large, who said the biggest risk in a collision was that of fire. ‘Each warhead has about 30-50 kg of high explosive around it. That would burn and your plutonium core would burn as well. That would disperse into the atmosphere and be a major problem.’ The Chairperson of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Kate Hudson, called the incident ‘a nuclear nightmare of the highest order’.