A Coroner’s Inquest into the loss of Bugaled Breizh hears that British Submarine, HMS Turbulent was docked at the time of the sinking. Photo: AFP
The Coroner’s Inquest into the sinking of the MFV ‘Bugaled Breizh’ in London has heard that a submarine suspected to be in the vicinity of the fishing vessel when it sunk was actually in dock on the day of the tragedy.
The ‘Bugaled Breizh’ sunk in mysterious circumstances off the Lizard Peninsula in south-west of the UK, on 15 January 2004 with the loss of five crew. Relatives believe the trawler sank after a submarine caught in it’s nets and dragged it under.
At the time of the tragedy, a NATO exercise was being carried out in the area with three submarines involved. The German U22, the Dutch sub Dolfijn and the British sub, HMS Torbay.
Another British submarine, the HMS Turbulent, which was also due to take part in the exercise, but in Court this week it was claimed that the submarine was in dock on that day. Family members of the Pascal Le Floch and Yves Gloaguen, two crew members from the ‘Bugaled Breizh’ who lost their lives in the sinking, believe that it was the HMS Turbulent that was the cause.
In court, the former Commander of the HMS Turbulent, Andrew Coles said that the nuclear submarine was in dock that day, telling the Court, “We were definitely not involved”.
He said that the Turbulent had been due to take part in the exercise but pulled out because of damage, resuming its operations four days after the ‘Bugaled Breizh’ sank.
He conceded a sub “could have been a cause” and that his vessel had been suspected, but insisted “we had nothing to do with it”.
Coles statement was backed-up by the British Navy’s submarine chief Commander Daniel Simmonds had insisted the submarine was in dock on 15 January.
He told the court it was “unthinkable” that the logs would have been falsified or that an allied submarine from another country could have been in the area without signalling its presence.
British naval exercises were scheduled for the day of the tragedy, said Simmonds, but they did not involve submarines.
As for the other submarines involved in the exercise, he said, none of them could have been within five nautical miles of the trawler.
The Dutch Navy already told the hearing its submarine was on the surface at the time of the accident.
A legal procedure in France ended in 2016 with no decision on whether a submarine caused the tragedy or if it was a fishing accident.