A Russian submarine collided with a British warship’s sonar during a chase in the Arctic Circle.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has confirmed for the first time that the crash took place with the Royal Navy submarine in late 2020.
The Russian submarine struck HMS Northumberland’s towed array sonar – a cable covered in hydrophones – which it was trailing hundreds of metres behind it.
HMS Northumberland had been tracking the submarine 200 miles north of Scotland before it reportedly disappeared from the ship’s radar.
The MOD rarely comments on operations but did so because the crash was caught on camera while Channel 5 were filming for its Warship: Life at Sea series.
The ship’s crew spotted the submarine on the surface before it dived again.
The Royal Navy submarine’s commander Thom Hobbs says in a clip: “We are very close to the submarine, we are probably parallel. If they were on the surface we would definitely see faces.”
The camera crew then captures the moment of impact, before a member of the crew is heard shouting: “What the f*** have I just hit?”
The sonar was badly damaged and the ship had to return to port in Scotland to get it replaced.
It is believed to be the first collision between Russian and British vessels since the Cold War.
A UK defence source told the BBC it was highly unlikely the collision was deliberate.
An MOD spokesman told the broadcaster: “In late 2020 a Russian submarine being tracked by HMS Northumberland came into contact with her towed array sonar.
“The Royal Navy regularly tracks foreign ships and submarines in order to ensure the defence of the United Kingdom.”