A British nuclear submarine almost collided with a ferry sailing out of Belfast after naval commanders under-estimated the speed of the Stena ferry.
The two vessels came within about 50 metres of each other in the incident on November 6, 2018, a Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report found.
Crew on the Stena Superfast VII ferry, which was travelling from Belfast to Cairnryan, took emergency action to avoid collision after spotting the submarine’s periscope nearby.
Ferry passengers and the crew on both vessels had been “in immediate danger”, the report admitted. The Stena vessel had 215 passengers and 67 crew on board.
The controversial nuclear-powered submarine, based at Faslane in Scotland, was patrolling the area when the submarine’s control room team “overestimated the ferry’s range and underestimated its speed”, according to the report.
Some of the most serious incidents in the Irish Sea over the years have seen fishing vessels dragged downwards by British submarines. In 2015, one trawler was badly damaged after a nuclear submarine snagged in its fishing nets in the Irish sea, and its crew nearly killed.
Sinn Féin Assembly member Sinead Ennis called for the “demilitarisation of the Irish Sea”.
Ms Ennis said it was “extremely concerning” that it was the third incident involving a British Navy submarine and a surface vessel in four years.
“The British government and the British Ministry of Defence should end its submarine activity in the Irish Sea to avoid similar incidents in the future,” she said.