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UK, French submarines collide under Atlantic

TWO nuclear-armed submarines, one British and one French, have collided while on separate exercises in the Atlantic Ocean, newspaper reports said today.

The nuclear-powered submarines were badly damaged in the underwater collision earlier this month, the Daily Telegraph said. No one was injured in the accident and there was no damage to the vessels' weapons, the Daily Mirror added.

The defense ministry in London said it did not comment on submarine operations and would not confirm the reports.

However, in a brief statement, it added: "We can confirm that the UK's deterrent capability has remained unaffected at all times and there has been no compromise to nuclear safety."

A spokesman for France's defense ministry declined to comment.

The Sun newspaper said modern anti-sonar technology is so good that it is possible that neither submarine detected the other in time.

After the accident in the mid-Atlantic, the Royal Navy's HMS Vanguard returned to base in Faslane, western Scotland, with dents and scrapes visible on its hull, the Sun reported.

France's Le Triomphant limped back to Brest, northwest France, with extensive damage to its sonar dome, which houses navigation and communication equipment, the report added.

Launched in 1992, Vanguard is one of four British submarines that carries the Trident nuclear missile, the country's nuclear defense system. At least one of the submarines is on patrol at all times.

Le Triomphant, which entered service in 1997, carries 16 nuclear missiles and is one of four nuclear-armed submarines in the French fleet.


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