The crash of nuclear powered attack submarine HMS Ambush off Gibraltar is likely to result in a court martial, it has been reported.

The commanding officer of HMS Ambush, Commander Alan Daveney, will be under investigation as part of an inquiry into why the boat collided with a merchant vessel on Wednesday.

According to a press release at the time:

At approximately 1330 local time today, HMS AMBUSH, an Astute-class submarine, while submerged and conducting a training exercise was involved in a glancing collision with a merchant vessel off the coast of Gibraltar. We are in contact with the merchant vessel and initial indications are that it has not sustained damage.

The submarine suffered some external damage but there is absolutely no damage to her nuclear plant and no member of the ship’s company was injured in the incident. An immediate investigation is being conducted.

The submarine will be entering Gibraltar later this evening for further checks. There are no safety concerns associated with HMS AMBUSH being alongside.

HMS Ambush is an Astute class nuclear fleet submarine, the second boat of her class. Ambush is the third vessel, and the second submarine, to bear the name in Royal Naval service. She was ordered in 1997, laid down in 2003 and commissioned in 2013.

In April 2015, Ambush participated in Exercise Joint Warrior, the largest military exercise held in Europe, alongside 55 other naval ships of NATO navies.


  1. The Spanish merchant vessel MORE THAN LIKELY rammed the submarine on purpose. HMS Ambush should have launched a decoy, and immediately headed to dock, but then turn around and torpedo the merchant vessel for their act of agressive and carelessness. And if anyone has anything to say? Well, they are probably in no position to argue with a nuclear submarine, one which is presumably carrying nukes.

    • Satire aside, I’m surprised the Navy let them just casually get away with damaging their sub. Even if they didn’t torpedo the boat, they should have boarded it and held the crew. Give them a good fright and a lesson in what radar is and how it works. And most importantly, determine wether it was deliberate.

    • Ambush is an Astute class fleet submarine… it is nuclear powered, meaning it has a nuclear reactor to supply electricity for the systems and electric motors that propel the vessel, however it is not nuclear armed and has no capability to be armed with nukes… the only UK subs that can do that are the Vanguard class, SLBN carrier (submarine launched ballistic missile) these are the Trident carrying subs, the UK has a total of 4 of the class each capable of holding 16 trident missiles with nuclear warheads… hope this clears up

  2. Experts everywhere. This is standard procedure. Plus submarines use other vessels to hide. It’s surprising how many times this has probably happened in the past and been hushed up. They might be state of the art but humans with egos are still in control. Getting as close as you can is part of that ego. It’s all speculation at present. A court martial would happen anyway. The outcome could be very different depending the findings.

    • You are right Seb in one respect that this has happened before. However, no court martial have ever resulted. In most cases the captain has been removed without punishment or repremand. Near misses were very rarely reported properly and a simple ships (internal) investigation would surfice with blame apportioned to a junior or brush under the carpet. I suspect things don’t change but who knows with the coverage of this once dent and embarrassment via social media.

  3. You damage a multi billion dollar boat, regardless of whether or not you are at the helm, you will be stripped of your command and your navy career is finished.

    • not necessarily. Back in the 70s David Tall took command of HMS Opossum. Wonderful guy who had been court martialled before

  4. After any such incident there is a Board of Inquiry which is not a court martial. A Board of Inquiry cannot punish anyone but only make recommendations. Any officer or rating will only face a court martial if there is a case of negligence to answer.

  5. Can’t undestand how a new multi billion pound boat with all the latest sensor technology was unable to avoid a surface vessel. Isn’t that what they are supposed to do?

  6. She was on a training EX, maybe she was practising the old sneaking into or out of the Med under an unsuspecting ship trick..(as was done and likely still is to this day, by many Navies since submarines sailed any great distance)..As I understand the waters there are very tricky…. Either reason could account for this incident….Myself, I wish the CO luck, shame to have all the time and treasure training the man go to sailing a desk…IMHO Ready Aye Ready…


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