Tonight, at high tide HMS Astute was pulled off the shingle bank on which she had grounded. This single sentence does not however encapsulate the whole tale. TV pictures on BBC TV News showed the submarine being pulled off by the stern. Whilst this was happening one could see crew members standing on the boat’s casing aft of what we used to call the “conning tower” but is now referred to by the US term, “sail.” We sat open mouthed in amazement at this sight for there is a basic rule that every seafarer should know: DO NOT STAND WITHIN THE VICINITY OF A TOW LINE. These crew members had clearly not being told this piece of obvious wisdom! Then the tow line snapped and our heart missed a beat. Fortunately, the line whipped back into the sound and did not slice any of the crew in two – which it would have done.
The tug bye the way, is due to be decommissioned as part of the lop sided defence cuts. The boat will be towed to deeper waters and divers sent down to check for damage. It will then be towed back to its base at Faslane on the Clyde over the course of several days.
An eye-witness, a Mr. Ross McKerlich said the submarine was about a mile from his home and appeared to have a list to starboard. He said: “When I woke up this morning and looked out my bedroom window I could see the submarine. I am very surprised how far in it has come as there are good navigational buoys there.”
Mr McKerlich said HMS Astute was in an area of shallow water where he would not risk taking his yacht.
It seems that HMS Astute ran aground outside the safe sea lane marked on Admiralty charts. The channel that runs underneath the Skye Bridge has red and green buoys known as lateral markers to ensure vessels do not run aground. HMS Astute grounded in shallow water between three and four cables beyond that safe route. The Admiralty charts show submerged rocks in the area where the submarine got into difficulty.
British Gazette comment: This incident does not inspire confidence. It also illustrates all too well the ruinous effects of the British defence policy that is dictated by Washington. Vessels such as naval tugs are a vital part of any navy.