WATCH: Dramatic moment HMS Northumberland collides with Russian sub in 'eyewateringly expensive' incident

A video of the moment a Royal Navy Type 23 frigate's sonar equipment was crashed into by a Russian submarine has emerged - amid claims the cost of any damage could have been 'eye-wateringly expensive.'

HMS Northumberland was on patrol in the North Atlantic in late 2020 and engaged in a high stakes game of cat and mouse with the underwater vessel at the time. 

The video shows the initial confusion by crewmembers in Northumberland's operations room seconds after the collision, with one sailor heard saying, "What the f**k have I just hit?" 

Northumberland russian submarine
The Type 23 Frigate was on patrol in the North Atlantic in late 2020 when the incident occurred. Picture: Channel5 / Artlab Films.

 Cost would have been "eyewateringly high" 

The video has materialised as one expert, former Royal Navy commander Tom Sharpe, told Forces News the cost of the incident to the Ministry of Defence would have been "eyewateringly high."

He said: "These things are not cheap, and I don't honestly know how many the navy has, but it's now quite an old bit of equipment.

"The cost of a Towed Array is one of those things where if you were actually to know the figure, it would be personally eyewateringly high."

However, a Royal Navy source rebuked the claims, saying: "The towed array item in the grand scheme of things is not an expensive item to repair."


Towed Array diagram
The ship was using a Towed Array at the time of the collision, which is deployed from the stern at distances of up to two miles.

The remarkable incident has only come to light thanks to a Channel 5 television documentary filmed on HMS Northumberland at the time. 

Filmmakers for Warship: Life at Sea benefited from unprecedented access to the ship and her crew in what is only the second time an incident of this nature has occurred and the first since the end of the Cold War. 

The story appears in a yet-to-be-aired episode. 

A Royal Navy source referred to the North Atlantic collision as "unfortunate", followed by an official statement from the Ministry of Defence. 

The source 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."


Warship: Life at Sea continues on Mondays on Channel5 at 9pm. Cover image: Channel5/Artlab Films.

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