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A Royal Navy warship smashed into a Russian submarine which can carry nuclear tipped torpedoes.
The clash in the in the north Atlantic in 2020 is understood to be the first between the two naval powerhouses since the Cold War.
HMS Northumberland was towing a sonar line which the Russian submarine crashed into while submerged below.
The unexpected hit would have made the Russians underwater "sh** themselves" a Royal Navy source said.
The collision came as the Royal Navy scrambled the British Type 23 frigate in a bid to hunt out the Russian vessel reported to have been travelling approximately 200 miles north of Scotland.
When the ship lowered its array sonar to listen out for the nearby Russians it instead “dragged over the submarine’s hull”, The Sun reports.
A source claimed the brush with the Russians mangled the giant, drainpipe-thick cable left the Royal Navy having to abandon the mission.
“It was badly chewed up and unusable,” a source said and HMS Northumberland was steered back to port so the sonar could be fixed.
Former frigate captain Commander Tom Sharpe said: “The question is was it deliberate or was it an accident?
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“Ship and submarine detection is not an exact science. It could have been a close pass gone wrong.”
Another source from the Navy said: “The crew of the submarine would have sh*t themselves.
“They would have heard a very sudden and unexpected noise like a fork being dragged over a cheese grater."
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Just as the sonar line was left in desperate need of repair the “million-to-one chance event” would have inevitably damaged the submarine below, the source added.
An MoD spokesman said: “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.”
- Royal Navy
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