AFP — A British nuclear submarine docked in Gibraltar on Wednesday after it collided with a merchant vessel off the coast of the disputed territory on Spain’s southern tip, Britain’s defence ministry said.
“The submarine suffered some external damage but there is absolutely no damage to her nuclear plant and no member of the ship’s company was injured in the incident,” the ministry said in a statement.
“We are in contact with the merchant vessel and initial indications are that it has not sustained damage,” it added.
The HMS Ambush submarine was submerged and carrying out a training exercise when it collided with the merchant vessel on Wednesday afternoon.
It arrived in Gibraltar later the same day to undergo further checks, the ministry said.
In 2010 a British nuclear submarine, the HMS Tireless, docked in Gibraltar for repairs for nearly a year after a crack was found in a cooling pipe near its nuclear reactor, sparking fears that it could leak and contaminate the environment.
People in Gibraltar and in southern Spain staged regular protests against the HMS Tireless and it has been the subject of a high-profile direct action campaign by the environmental organisation Greenpeace.
Spain’s prime minister at the time, Jose Maria Aznar, was criticised at home for not insisting that the submarine be moved back to Britain for repair.
The tiny peninsula on Spain’s south coast, Gibraltar has been a British territory since 1713 and it is known to its 30,000 residents as “the Rock”.
Gibraltar is a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations, with Spain long claiming sovereignty over the enclave.