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British Warship Collided With Russian Submarine, UK Defense Ministry Confirms

The HMS Northumberland was tracking a Russian submarine in late 2020 when the warship's sonar array collided with the underwater vessel. (file photo)

A British warship hit a Russian hunter-killer submarine with the ship’s sonar equipment while on patrol in the North Atlantic, the U.K. Ministry of Defense has revealed.

The Royal Navy’s HMS Northumberland was tracking the Russian submarine in late 2020 when the Type 23 frigate’s towed array sonar – a long cable with hydrophones that trails underwater behind a ship – collided with the submarine.

The incident was captured by a film crew for a Channel 5 documentary, Warship: Life at Sea, that is airing in the UK.

The Ministry of Defense had previously never commented on the collision but has confirmed it now because it was captured on camera.

“In late 2020 a Russian submarine being tracked by HMS Northumberland came into contact with her towed array sonar," the Ministry of Defense said in a statement provided to several British media outlets on January 6. "The Royal Navy regularly tracks foreign ships and submarines in order to ensure the defense of the United Kingdom."

A Defense Ministry source told the BBC that it was unlikely the submarine deliberately collided with the sonar cable.

In the television program, there is a scene of the moment the crew on the HMS Northumberland realizes something happened. The crew shouts: “What the hell was that?”

It is unclear whether the Russian submarine suffered any damage.

However, the HMS Northumberland had to return to port in Scotland to replace the damaged sonar.