Five fishermen died in 2004 when their trawler, the Bugaled Breizh, sank off the coast of Cornwall under as yet unclear circumstances. While French authorities have failed to find a definite reason for why the vessel sank, family members of the five dead fishermen believe that either a British or French submarine operating on NATO exercises snagged the trawler’s nets and pulled the vessel under. They have two suspects in mind; the French submarine Rubis and the British submarine HMS Turbulent. A theory put forward in 2008 that it could have been an American submarine on a covert mission in the English Channel has largely been dismissed.
The Royal Navy and the Turbulent’s Captain Andy Coles have vigorously denied any involvement in the sinking of the trawler claiming that Turbulent wasn’t even at sea at the time of the tragedy. The Royal Navy have repeatedly stated that HMS Turbulent was in port at HMNB Devonport. The families claim that given the speed in which the trawler sunk which is estimated to have been just 27 seconds(!) coupled with traces of titanium believed to be from a submarine’s hull on the cables that enough evidence exists to point blame at a submarine for dragging the trawler down.
Earlier this week a French court hearing the case quashed an effort to force the French authorities to reopen the investigation. While French investigators failed to reach a conclusive answer as to why the trawler sank so quickly they did publish their belief that the most likely cause was that the nets snagged rocks and that the fishermen were unable to stop their engines before the vessel was pulled under the water.
Lawyers representing the families have said that they will continue to fight on for another investigation in to their claims and have threatened to take the case to Europe and even the UK.