In an exclusive report for The Sun by Jerome Starkey, it has been revealed that a major disaster was narrowly averted involving a Royal Navy nuclear submarine.

This Vanguard class submarine, part of the fleet that carries the UK’s Trident nuclear missiles, suffered a critical malfunction while preparing for patrol over a year ago.

The heart of the incident lay in the failure of the main depth gauge during the submarine’s dive. This malfunction misleadingly indicated that the vessel was at a safer, shallower depth, whilst in reality, it continued to descend.

The seriousness of this situation was underscored by the fact that the submarine was nearing its “crush depth.” This term refers to a depth at which the water pressure is so immense that it can cause catastrophic structural failure to the vessel.

Remarkably, it was the engineers on board, whose primary role doesn’t include depth monitoring, who noticed the anomaly on a secondary gauge. This observant action averted what could have been the worst Royal Navy disaster since World War Two.

It highlighted the importance of the submarine’s redundant systems, designed to mitigate the risks inherent in such complex and critical military equipment.

Following this incident, which was initially reported by The Sun, the Royal Navy conducted a thorough investigation, the details of which have remained confidential.

However, the Ministry of Defence typically refrains from commenting on the specifics of submarine operations due to their sensitive nature.

While the Navy has reassured that its submarines continue to fulfil their operational duties effectively, this is a stark reminder of the perils faced by those who operate these strategic deterrents.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Jim
Jim
4 months ago

That’s why we have 4 boats however if we ever lost one through accident it would become a real up hill battle to maintain CASD with three as they age.

You wonder how the USN gets som much out of their Ohio’s given they are older and worked a lot more. They have a minimum readiness of 10 out of 14. I can’t imagine us ever getting 3 our of 4 vanguards at the same time.

I know they have double crews but even still.

Defence thoughts
Defence thoughts
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim

What a thoroughly nasty comment. What, exactly, has he said in this post which is so worthy of mockery?

Show a bit more respect please.

Jim
Jim
4 months ago

He just follows me from thread to thread leaving abusive comments.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Don’t equate readiness with actually deployed, it’s not the same thing.

Chris
Chris
4 months ago

Totally unacceptable situation. We have already heard of BAE’s quality control problems. The RN/BAE needs an American exchange program. The USN/USAF have tons of RAF/RN officers going through their programs. Bringing experience across the pond, even contractors from EB would be a good idea.

Jacko
Jacko
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris

you do realise that stuff breaks don’t you? In fact it shows there was nothing wrong with the crews training as they found the fault!

grizzler
grizzler
4 months ago
Reply to  Jacko

it does state it was the engineers who spotted it and implies that shouldnt’ have been the case- so there does seem to be implication that it was someone elses job & they failed to do it?

George
George
4 months ago
Reply to  grizzler

I would say you are correct. But where was the redundant systems back-up depth gauge and why are we reading about this in the press?
Our armed forces personnel have always been Great Britain’s finest assets. None more-so than the Silent Service. I cannot say the same for the bean counters in Whitehall or the politicians pulling their strings.

The very thought of a crush depth gives me the shivers. I’d be a section eight candidate within days. Make that hours!

Steve
Steve
4 months ago
Reply to  George

That’s the press/media’s job, bring accountability to those in power. If they hadn’t reported it, the event would have been covered up and that breeds complacency. Its essential that the media questions and raises concerns of our government and public services, since its our money and lives they waste if they get it wrong. Our media isn’t great at its job as most are too partisan but sometimes they do it.

George
George
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve

When it comes to matters of National Security, it should be the job of HM Armed Forces to bring accountability to those in power. The press in most western democracies are far to liberal or downright marxist to be trusted. If it were up to me, the journalist who broke the story would be interned and interrogated under emergency powers. Until they revealed where the information came from. Same thing for everyone in the information chain. But of course I was a big supporter of Op. Demetrius and the war on terror. I still am! BTW Steve, this is me… Read more »

Patient5150
Patient5150
4 months ago
Reply to  George

As dreadful as it seems, failures like this (luckily caught in time) will produce positive results. The through investigation may lead to an improved gauge mechanism, safer procedures, and better training throughout the sub fleet.

George
George
4 months ago
Reply to  Patient5150

That would be the best outcome.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
4 months ago
Reply to  grizzler

Theres two depth gauges on the submarine, one on the bridge and the second in engineering. The one on the bridge froze and the guys in the engine room noticed and reported it.

David Barry
David Barry
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Remind us great unwashed, of how many EB employees work in Barrow?

Craig S
Craig S
4 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

There used to be loads during Vanguard build. Probably will be again with Dreadnought.

Let’s not forget the press love to dramatise the tiniest bit of information. I was involved in a few incidents on HMS Upholder that got into the papers. 99% of which was rubbish. A case of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

George
George
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Accidents happen but two things immediately jump out at me.
Where was the redundant system back up for the depth gauge?
Why are we able to read about this highly sensitive incident in The Sun newspaper, of all places?
I’m not sure which one gives me most cause for concern. We have entered into a new Cold War and people should be behaving accordingly.

Andrew D
Andrew D
4 months ago
Reply to  George

And the Star 🌟🕵

AlexS
AlexS
4 months ago
Reply to  George

Agreed, don’t seems much redundancy.

Also i have people at NL say that Astutes are not safe boats compared to Trafalgars so i wonder if there bean counters are cutting essential safety. Or it is an engineering issue due to the hiatus in building submarines.

Deep32
Deep32
4 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

Nothing of the sort fella, things fail occasionally, it really is that simple. Simplicity isn’t newsworthy, so poetic licence ensures a wider coverage.

LongTime
LongTime
4 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Deep I assume there actually is a 2nd gauge or is it a famed single point device?

Deep32
Deep32
4 months ago
Reply to  LongTime

4 if I remember correctly, CR – main one, one on each escape tower and one in engine\manoeuvring room.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

I suppose then the question becomes what is the SOP for monitoring all four and comparing readings/looking for anomalies….sounds a bit like a failure of an SOP and a lucky check up of the one the engine room….learning from near misses is what stops us all getting people killed….but if you can help it is best not to have the near miss in the first place.

AlexS
AlexS
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Precisely Jonathan, lack of enough crew like with the carrier ?

Deep32
Deep32
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Hi fella, no that’s not really the case, whilst there are plenty of actual depth gauges positioned around the SM, the primary depth system onboard is the Digital Depth System. It’s not actually a mechanical gauge as such but a series of electronic displays with various repeaters dotted about. It’s one of those really small systems which is highly important and has a direct feedinto the Tactical weapons system data bus to supply info to various sensors and weapons stations. It has various backups and as such shouldn’t really fail completely. Certainly enough people around the SM have visibility of… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Hi deep, interesting cheers, I’ve read a few of the media reports on this, some are a bit less sensationalist than others, but a common trend is that I was classes as a near miss incident, not sure if that is because the gauge malfunctioned ( would that in itself be an incident ?) or maybe it’s because the reaction time to the event was not as expected…it’s a shame we will never get to see it because it would be an interesting investigation if was around reaction times…I’ve done a fair few investigations in my time when people had… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Wouldn’t disagree about your last point either, probably applies to the majority of organisations.
Yes you are correct, the incident will have initiated a ‘near miss’ report. The F35 loss on CSG 21 will have initiated
one too. Can’t quite remember the exact requirements for one, something to do with a potentially life threatening incident? Perhaps @GB or @RB can shed some more light on its requirements.
Every year the RN publish a list of all the years ‘near miss- reports, obviously not for general distribution, but included are all the actual reports, they usually make some interesting reading!

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

I did read a good piece once on the bathtub theory of serous incidents…the theory goes that as a person or team goes along their risk of making an error changes but not in the way you would expect…the likelihood forms a U or bathtub shape..when they are new or inexperienced their is a high risk of error ( one side of the bathtub) as they get more experienced and the team comes together that chance significantly reduces ( the side of the bath tub) until it hits a really low chance of error ( the bottom of the bath… Read more »

George
George
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Thanks Jonathon, that gives food for thought. Thanks to Deep too.

WSM
WSM
4 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Fitted above Bomb Shop tube control pannel too.

Deep32
Deep32
4 months ago
Reply to  WSM

I’m getting to old to remember them all🤣🤣

geoff
geoff
4 months ago
Reply to  George

And the Mail Online! Because it appeared therein I did not take it too seriously as their Defence reporting is generally hype and sensation, but also occurred to me how such a sensitive subject could escape into the public domain. Also what if an RN or indeed any other Navy sub carrying Nuclear armed weapons was to be lost at depth-what of the future risk of these weapons detonating under the sea or the lesser risk of nuclear pollution?

Last edited 4 months ago by geoff
Watcherzero
Watcherzero
4 months ago
Reply to  George

The backup for the bridge depth gauge is located in the engine room.

George
George
4 months ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Is it a completely separate system, as in two sensors. Perhaps linking them electronically to warn of discrepancies between depth readings would be a good idea. Surely that is obvious and a no brainer. For something as important as depth and keeping well above crush depth. Triple redundancy would not be considered too much to ask for.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
4 months ago
Reply to  George

Probably would be done nowadays with networked systems, but back when they were built they probably thought running a cable the length of the ship just to synchronise them was unnecessarily complex.

George
George
4 months ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Thanks for the reply. Being a retired ground pounding grunt I know nothing of naval architecture or submarines. But I do know that submariners of the silent service must be a special breed to do what they do. They deserve their extra pay and tons of respect. They also deserve every safety measure a grateful nation can install, regardless of cost or complexity. Lets leave it there and some good comes out of the near miss.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Are you being serious ? How many nuclear subs have we lost compared to either the USN or Russia ? Things do break, but that is why there are backups and other ways that determine exterior water pressure onboard. It failed, the backup procedures worked and no one died. End of ! Since 1960 the USN and RN have worked very closely together and each has added expertise and knowledge to develop and build the boats we have today. Safety is paramount, but things do go wrong. GDEB have had staff that were embedded at Barrow by BAe to assist… Read more »

farouk
farouk
4 months ago

In a nutshell depth gauge on sub failed, Back up one (I wonder why it is there) worked.

Jim
Jim
4 months ago
Reply to  farouk

Yeah, nothing much to see here move on, pretty low standard of journalism even for the sun.

AlexS
AlexS
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim

If the sub was near crush depth this is not nothing to see here.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  farouk

Yes but it sounds like it was more of a chance look at the backup, which makes you think either the SOP had a great big hole in it around comparing readings or someone was ignoring the SOP.

Tommo
Tommo
4 months ago

So much with the Silent Service someone for the high jump divulging to the press as I’m sure the story wasn’t a press freebie signing the dotted line doesn’t mean signing up with the press

David Barry
David Barry
4 months ago

Old boats – things fail and that Black Swan event was narrowly avoided.

Who knew on 30 year old boats that things go wrong.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
4 months ago

I’m not sure that I wouldn’t take this with a few sackfuls of salt given its red top sourcing.

I’m sure a pressure / depth gauge did fail.

But I’m unconvinced that the situation is as bad as made out here.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah
4 months ago

I tend to agree. A sub hull close to crush depth would be giving off very audible signs of distress. Nor do I believe that such a major safety device does not have multiple independent redundancies ( other than in the engineering space).
I suspect the story is reasonably factual but the crush depth is typical red top spin.
It is very doubtfully for operational reasons that the MoD would have released the boats depth when the fault was detected or the crush depth of a Vanguard.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

I likewise tend to question this story, I note how on the fly on the wall documentaries how each issue or event are built up (esp in previews) as far as possible to give extra interest or appeal or even jeopardy so times that by 5 and you get the Sun or Daily Mail version.

Luke Rogers
Luke Rogers
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

They probably don’t know the difference between test depth and crush depth. As you say, if it was at or near the latter I presume experienced submariners would be giving the bull and captain some serious side eye. The other thing is nobody actually knows the crush depth of a Vanguard as none have ever done it.

Luke Rogers
Luke Rogers
4 months ago
Reply to  Luke Rogers

*hull, not bull

Mark Cherry
Mark Cherry
4 months ago

This sums up the incompetence of government, military procurement, the new dreadnought submarine sent due to enter servicing until 2030s but out vanguard submarines are falling to bits even worse these are our country last line of defence

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Cherry

So you make the leap from a faulty pressure transmitter/ indicator , which btw is a common occurrence in industry. To the boat is falling apart.
Several reasons are behind the boats being delayed including the design of the common missile compartment, shared by the new American Columbia class and our Dreadnaught.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Don’t panic, Don’t panic I remember when HMS Duncan, HMS Northumberland (I think) and even HMS QE were presented as in imminent danger in the media previewing documentaries a good few degrees higher than the actual facts. Not to be ignored but a reasoned assessment is a far better response. The one that to me appeared deeply concerning mind was when if reports are a Rivet Joint was fired at by a Russian Jet as those Russian pilots are arguing over the meaning of their orders. Thankfully if the reports are true Russian technology as usual failed to live up… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Cherry

Let us say it was HMS Vanguard. Have you ever had a problem with your 30-year old car/vacuum cleaner/kettle?

Back-up gauge was read – and all was well.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Cherry

Actually they are the opposite they actually defend by being the biggest line of offence.

George
George
4 months ago

Thank the Gods disaster was averted. It’s a sign of the times that this has been made public. So much for the silent service. Where is the death penalty for treason when we need it most?

John Clark
John Clark
4 months ago
Reply to  George

I tend to agree with SB, I don’t think it’s quite the ‘seconds from nuclear Disaster’ incident that the Sunday morning rattle can, car masking paper makes out.

Do any of the papers have any other uses apart from masking, emergency toilet paper and lighting kindling in the fire I wonder???🤔🤔

I have heard that some folks actually read it, seems a tad far fetched to me….

George
George
4 months ago
Reply to  George

How do I delete my comment above.

John Clark
John Clark
4 months ago
Reply to  George

Evening George, just contact Lisa mate, email below.

Tullzter
Tullzter
4 months ago

Read this on the Dailymail and though it was another sensationalist rag article, guess not

davetrousers
davetrousers
4 months ago

I remember watching a TV documentary about the Boeing 747 and they talked about how much redudancy they had for various systems.

Last edited 4 months ago by davetrousers
Andrew D
Andrew D
4 months ago

IF true on faulty equipment ,is this because of lack of money on maintains ? can’t take risks of short cuts with Military platforms let alone people’s lives .Wake up call for HMG maybe, ⏰ need to pull more cash out of the money jar .😕

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

30-year old kit that is subject to very hard duty cycles will have periodic failures. Due to redundancy of systems a second pressure gauge could be read and trouble was averted.

Paul T
Paul T
4 months ago

Looking at the comments posted on NL (X) many informed peeps are casting doubt on the accuracy of this story.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
4 months ago

First class work from the engineers on-board avoiding the potential loss of a very valuable submarine. 👍🇬🇧   No derogatory remarks about the source of the information thus far I see!   “The total number of people are of course not the only metric for understanding the health of the force. Ships and submarines cannot deploy without a number of key personnel that must be qualified to operate specialist systems. ‘Pinch points’ in particular trades have always been an issue but experienced marine engineers continue to be the most critical shortage.   There are shortages in other specialist trades but a lack of… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Nigel Collins
Airborne
Airborne
4 months ago

Where’s deep when you need him? I’m sure he can give us a none official secrets heads up on this seemingly red top headline! To me, gauge fails, crew little slow to notice, secondary gauge then gives correct info, crew take note and rectify boat angle of dive and depth! But, I know pretty much zero about this sort of thing!!! But as an aside and as I’m always reminded our crazy sub nutter deep, it’s a very weird and dangerous/mental/not normal lifestyle these submariners choose….far to dangerous for me, crazy people 😂👍

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Yes mate, I thought similar. Having started reading the comments, then skip reading faster through the usual “we are doomed” ones I’m now only really interested in what Deep, the SME here has to say.

Airborne
Airborne
4 months ago

Agreed mate let’s see what he has to say 👍

klonkie
klonkie
4 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

ahh -says he who jumps out of perfectly serviceable aeroplanes 😃 Hope all is good with you Bud!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 months ago
Reply to  klonkie

The pair of em need heads examined….

Klonkie
Klonkie
4 months ago

ha ha terra firma for me Daniele. Stay well Mate!

Airborne
Airborne
4 months ago
Reply to  klonkie

Hi Klonkie you know it’s all good fun, but nowadays a free fall canopy only for me as much softer and controlled landing as opposed to a static line jump where I land and nowadays would break bits off 😂👍 hope all is well with you mate!

Deep32
Deep32
4 months ago

Evening all, just to clarify some of the comments in the posts and the actual written article that is getting people excited. There are several ‘depth gauge’s’ on our SMs. They are all independent of each other so no single failure will compromise the SM. The depth gauge in the control room is the primary indictor for depth on the SM and it’s info feeds into the weapons system for use where required. When a SM first dives, it doesn’t go very deep for obvious reasons. Once on depth the crew conduct various checks to ensure the SM is free… Read more »

Toby J
Toby J
4 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Was looking for you Deep, glad to see it so that trolls will have something to read and consider before ranting

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

I love this site! For posts like THIS.
Sensationalized “The Sun” dross.

Andy P
Andy P
4 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Got told about this shortly afterwards, lets just say I’m glad I wasn’t on it ! 😬 As you say mate, there’s a difference between Deep Diving Depth and Crush Depth. Because we have always operated with much greater margins of safety than say the Russians that’s why when you read the specs on Russian boats they claim they can go a lot deeper than our “in excess of 300 metres”. Because of our strict safety procedures if a boat does go past DDD then it needs to get mustered to make sure everything still does what its supposed to.… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
4 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

I know what you mean Andy, much must be due in part to the age of the hulls, notwithstanding the fact that they are technically very challenging monsters to maintain. Lots of moving parts and all that sort of stuff.
Have to say that glad I’m out of it now, leave all that excitement to the younger generation!😂

Andy P
Andy P
4 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

I’m with you mate the good ship Citizenship suits me just fine. Like you I’m happy to leave it to the younger generation, I gather that’s half the problem though, there always used to be a lot of ‘old heads’ but a mate was saying he was the third oldest onboard his boat at 43. It doesn’t matter how much gold you have on your shoulder when experience is required. Just a pity we can’t really tear this to bits on here, a bit too public.

Deep32
Deep32
4 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

Know what you mean about the public bit, sometimes find myself having to bite the bullet when posting stuff, most frustrating at times. Perhaps we need a night in the pub and put the issues to rights!🍷

Andy P
Andy P
4 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

I’ve been known to dabble mate, partial to the odd glass of loud mouth soup myself. 😉

There’s an idea, a UKDJ run ashore, we would all have to wear a red carnation in the left button hole of our suit jackets so we could recognise each other. 😂

Bruce Palmer
Bruce Palmer
4 months ago

The depth gauge was ‘Made in China’ no doubt.

Puffing Billy
Puffing Billy
4 months ago

I would have thought they would have more than 2 depth gauges. I bet they will keep a close eye on them in future!!

Nathan
Nathan
4 months ago

I’m quite perplexed by this story. By other versions, disaster was averted by someone looking at the back up depth gauge. Presumably such back up systems are there in case the primary one fails, as it did here, so why isn’t there a failsafe between them or, as a minimum, a routine to check the back up too?

Roger Frog
Roger Frog
4 months ago

If it’s in The Sun, it must be true….

Rob Collinson
Rob Collinson
4 months ago

Another reason why it was so important to design and build Dreadnought Class. Submarines are not like other boats. On another boat you will just stop, or at extremis have to abandon the boat and go into lifeboats. That is an extreme remote possibility for submarines and their submariners. Upgrading ageing equipment and boats in imperative.

Mike
Mike
4 months ago

I spent 11 yrs in the submarine service from 1983 until 1995. During this period a depth gauge failures were uncommon but happened. In fact it happened to me twice, once in a O class SM and once in an SSN. Once caused after bottoming the boat and the other under the ice. In both occasions both the plainsman and SCOOW were aware almost immediately and the appropriate action taken iaw the EOP’s. When this happens, normally the depth gauge is isolated and the line blown through. Although I’ve never served in a Vanguard SM I’m sure the EOP’s cover… Read more »

WSM
WSM
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Perfect summing up Shipmate 👍🏻

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike

I would imagine its not a component you do maintenance on anyway, simply replacing it every 12 months or 3 years with a freshly calibrated one.

mike
mike
4 months ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Normally calibrated annually in.