The crew of a Scottish fishing boat had a lucky escape this week when their vessel narrowly avoided being dragged beneath the waves by an unidentified object caught in their net. The captain of the boat has insisted that the mystery object was a Russian submarine, as there were no British or Nato vessels in the area.
Angus Mcleod and his crew were fishing aboard the Aquarius, a 41 year old wooden vessel on Tuesday. They were about ten miles east of the Butt of Lewis in waters 360 feet deep when something became entangled in one of the ships two trawling nets, pulling it to the fore, the Telegraph has reported.
Mr Mcleod was forced to rev his engine in an attempt to keep pace with whatever was dragging his boat to prevent being submerged for about 15 minutes, until finally the boat’s propellor shredded the straining rope.
He has insisted that whatever dragged his vessel was man-made. “I have been at sea for 30 years – and between the five of us there is 110 years experience – and in our collective times we have never experienced anything like that.
“I have been told that there were no MoD submarines north of Neist Point on Skye that day – and no Nato submarines in the area too. It is possible a non-Nato submarine could be involved?
“It was not a whale – we have had whales in the nets before and the net is all twisted afterwards. Whatever it was, it was human powered – of that we are convinced.”
Following the incident the relieved crew headed back for shore only for the Aquarius to develop steering problems about three miles south east of Chicken Rock, necessitating a lifeboat from Stornoway to be launched.
The Aquarius was towed by the lifeboat to Stornoway for repairs. It was there that the crew discovered that four of the five one-inch bolts connecting the steering motor with the rudder had been wrenched loose.
“All five of us are extremely lucky. I don’t even want to think of the consequences of what could have happened,” said Mr Macleod.
“I would like to get to the bottom of it. It was a very worrying experience – it shook us all up especially when we thought about it afterwards. Whatever happened involved a moving object in mid-stream.”
The Royal Navy has said that none of its submarines, nor those of our Nato allies were in the area at the time. However, there have been allegations and suspicions that Russian submarines have been operating in the area in recent months.
Last November, Nato sea patrol planes donated by France, Canada and America were drafted in by the British government to search for a suspected Russian submarine off the Scottish coast after the government scrapped similar planes from the British forces.
And in January, two US Navy aircraft undertook anti-submarine patrols alongside a Royal Navy Frigate near Faslane, Argyll, where Britain’s Trident force is based, after a suspected sighting of a Russian submarine in the area.
Mr Macleod, who suffered around £10,000 in damages and loss of earning, has said that that he will await the results of an official probe into what happened.
A spokesman for Stornoway Coastguard said: “We are aware of the incident and can confirm that reports have been submitted. We are taking the matter seriously. The MoD has told us that there was no submarine activity in the area at the time. But we are continuing to investigate.”