herald

Thursday 29 September 2016

Prawn trawler 'dragged backwards by Russian submarine' 150 miles off Irish coast

A prawn trawler is back at port after an incident in which crew claim that their vessel was dragged backwards by a submarine, less than 150 miles off the Irish coast

The 60-foot wooden hulled Karen trawler was about 18 miles off the coast when its nets were snagged shortly after 4pm on Wednesday.

The skipper said that they had to release their fishing and lifting gear to free themselves as they hurtled backwards at a speed of ten knots.

Skipper Paul Murphy told Down News: “Without warning, were were stopped and pulled backwards very violently at around ten knots which is the top speed of the vessel. I really thought that was it.  It was fortunate that one of the steel ropes holding the net snapped or we would have been pulled under very quickly.

"The incident only lasted about just over five seconds but it was very scary. The submarine did not come up to the surface after we tangled with it. We have now lost thousands of pounds of fishing gear because of this. It really should not have happened.”

Mr Murphy said the incident happened at a point known as the Calf of Man not far from the Isle of Man.

The Coastguard was put on standby in case the trawler required assistance. However it is understood that the crew members were able to make their way back unassisted.

No injuries were reported but it is estimated it will cost upwards of £10,000 to get the trawler ready to return to sea.

The Ardglass-based trawler had embarked on its trip from Co Down.

It is not the first time reports of submarines coming into contact with trawlers in the area have been recorded. In the documentary below fishermen from Portavogie and Clogherhead told of their encounters with subs in the Irish sea.

The MoD said they don’t comment on submarine activity for security reasons.

However scores of ships and aircraft from 13 countries are currently taking part in war games off the coast of Scotland, in an unprecedented show of military strength.

The Nato exercises involve at least 55 warships, 70 aircraft and 13,000 sailors and will include submarine hunts, amphibious landings and ship against ship attacks.

The Joint Warrior exercises are the biggest yet held by Nato and are intended to act as a show of strength while honing the ability of member nations to co-operate in the event of an attack.

Training for submarine hunts is regarded as particularly important in waters north of the UK as they are the most obvious route into the wider Atlantic Ocean for Russian vessels.

A team from the Russian National Nuclear Threat Reduction Center currently visiting Scotland to observe military activities as part of a reciprocal agreement contained in the 2011 version of the Vienna Document

Russian submarines are also suspected of operating close to the UK shoreline.

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