Tag Archives: HMS Turbulent

‘People were going to die’: submarine crew trapped in searing heat after catastrophic systems failure

Dozens of crew members were trapped on a Royal Navy nuclear submarine in 60C heat after the air conditioning system failed, forcing HMS Turbulent to dive to 200m to cool down

HMS Turbulent

Temperatures on HMS Turbulent soared to more than 140F (60C) with 100 per cent humidity Photo: SWNS

Dozens of sailors were overcome by heat exhaustion when temperatures soared on board a British nuclear submarine after a “catastrophic” air-conditioning failure, it has been disclosed.

Eight submariners were left in a “life-threatening condition” as temperatures on HMS Turbulent rose to more than 140F (60C) with 100 per cent humidity, while engineers battled to fix the fault.

The previously undisclosed incident in the Indian Ocean has come to light three years later, after the commanding officer at the time gave a dramatic account of the crisis and revealed the situation was so critical he thought crew members were going to die.

Commander Ryan Ramsey (SWNS)

Cdr Ryan Ramsey, the submarine’s commanding officer, said: “I genuinely thought there was going to be a loss of life on board.

The 44-year-old, who recently retired from the Royal Navy, said the extreme temperatures left crew “just collapsing everywhere, many at their work stations”.

The hunter killer submarine was only three hours from Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates on May 26, 2011, when the incident took place.

The boat had surfaced and Cdr Ramsey was on the bridge when engineers told him the air conditioning plants had “catastrophically” failed.

As he went below he was met by an “incredible blast of heat,” and the first casualties soon began to be taken ill.

Within hours many areas of the 275ft submarine had become makeshift sick bays, as 26 of the crew were taken casualty, he said.

“We had casualties in the control room, the engine room, the bridge, the wardroom, cabins, and the toilets and showers. It was absolutely terrifying, and I’m not afraid to say I was scared.

“Walking around the boat I saw true fear in my crew’s eyes.

“I saw genuine concern because we simply did not know how we were going to get through it.

“I felt like the world was against us.

“I was looking up and asking ‘when are you going to give me a break to gain the upper hand here?’

“People were crying, and it was all about survival.”

Cdr Ramsey said it was the first time such a malfunction had been reported on a vessel of this type – and the crew didn’t understand the exact cause of the problem. The heat meant the crew couldn’t reach the problem areas because the equipment was too hot to touch.

A decision was made that it was impossible to return to Fujairah with a “broken” nuclear submarine because of the political fallout. The crew opened two of the submarines hatches to release some of the heat and put some of the casualties outside, but with temperatures on the surface reaching 108F (42C) there was little respite.

The air conditioning system was used to cool sensitive equipment on board, which began to shut down.

A decision was made to dive to cooler water to reduce the heat.

“It was touch and go before we dived as to what might happen to us and the submarine,” he said.

“We couldn’t do anything. I could have radioed for help but it would have taken hours for anyone to reach us. In that time people would have died.

“We were alone in our steel tube. There really was no-one to call.”

Diving to a depth of more than 200 metres, the temperatures finally began to drop and within 24 hours systems had returned to normal and the crew were recovering. HMS Turbulent, based in Devonport, resumed her deployment.

Cdr Ramsey told the Plymouth Herald: “There’s not a day that goes by that I do not think about what happened. The pain of seeing my crew like that.

“But when I think back to that time I quickly remember how fantastic they all were in dealing with the situation.

“We recovered from it. They did exactly what they had to do, and looked after the team.”

Cdr Ramsey left the Royal Navy in March after 25 years’ service and said he had chosen to reveal the incident to highlight how “incredible” the secretive submarine service is.

He said: “The medical team was made up of one Petty Officer medic, another medic, and six or seven first-aiders and they did an unbelievable job under intense pressure.”

“That particular experience brought out some amazing actions from people who are rarely recognised, if ever, for what they do.”

HMS Turbulent, a Trafalgar Class submarine, was decommissioned in July 2012 at the end of a career of nearly 30 years.

A Royal Navy spokesman said the submarine’s nuclear reactor had never been at risk.

He said: “In 2011, a technical issue in HMS Turbulent resulted in a temporary rise in temperature on board the submarine.

“The problem, which caused no damage to the submarine or its reactor systems, was resolved by the crew after a few hours using standard operating procedures.

“A number of personnel who showed signs of heat related symptoms were treated by the submarine’s medical team.

“All recommendations resulting from the investigation into the incident have been fully implemented.”

Source – The Daily Telegraph

The Malpas birthplace of Newport’s submariner hero, Commander John ‘Tubby’ Linton VC, is to get a blue plaque


HONOUR: The Malpas birthplace of Newport’s submariner hero, Commander John ‘Tubby’ Linton VC, is to get a blue plaque

A RENOWNED submarine commander from Newport who was awarded the Victoria Cross will be recognised tomorrow with the unveiling of a plaque on the house where he was born.

John Wallace Linton VC, known as ‘Tubby’, was born in Malpas and went on to command submarines during the Second World War.

He was responsible for sinking around 100,000 tonnes of enemy shipping but died along with his crew, almost certainly due to his submarine, HMS Turbulent, being hit by an Italian depth charge.

The blue plaque will be 18 inches in diameter and will read: “Commander John Wallace Linton VC, distinguished service across the Royal Navy, was born here 15 October 1905. Posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross 25 May 1943 for conspicuous gallantry whilst in command of HM Submarine Turbulent during operations in the Mediterranean Sea.”

It will be mounted on the porch of the house where he was born in the grounds of St Joseph’s Hospital.

This plaque will be the first of a series dedicated to submarine commanders.

Rick Rothwell, secretary of the Submariners’ Association, said: “He was very well thought of by all his crew.

“That goes a long way to a submarine achieving good results, the crew being 100 per cent behind the commander.

“The management committee thought it was a good idea, while there are still living contacts to the submarine VCs, to commemorate them.

“It’s a piece of history that may never be repeated. The submarine service is over 113 years of age and in that very short time it achieved 14 Victoria Crosses.”

The Victoria Cross is the highest military honour for gallantry awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Doug Piddington, 81, secretary of the Newport and Cwmbran Royal Naval Association, said: “He (Tubby) was one of the greatest submarine commanders that the country has ever seen.”

A memorial service to Commander Linton is held every year and in 2004 a Wetherspoons pub on Cambrian Road was named after him.

Source – South Wales Argus

French authorities clear Plymouth submarine over sinking off Cornish coast

The Royal Navy nuclear submarine Turbulent has been formally cleared of any involvement in the mystery sinking of a Breton trawler and the deaths of its five crew off the Lizard in Cornwall.

Nine years after the five fishermen died in the Bugaled Breizh tragedy, French authorities have finally ruled out the possibility that the British submarine was responsible.

Two expert reports have been published that dismiss a theory that HMS Turbulent, or any other submarine, could have been caught up in the trawler’s cables and dragged it down.

Despite questions in the House of Commons and assurances  by the Ministry of Defence that the submarine was docked at Plymouth on the day the Bugaled Breizh sank, a lawyer for French  families of the victims called for its captain Commander Andy Coles to be placed under investigation for manslaughter.


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Cdr Coles has repeatedly denied that his submarine was responsible for snagging the Bugaled’s trawl cables and dragging her below the waves in less than a minute.

A lawyer for the families had accused him and the Royal Navy of lying and claimed one mystery witness heard a “confession” by Cdr Coles and two others, neither of whom were ever named, had heard a radio message from the Turbulent saying she had suffered damage following a collision at the time of the accident and was returning to port.

A French journalist attempted to interview Commander Coles at his home in Devon last month. Commander Coles said he was unavailable but the journalist reported that the Commander’s wife had spoken to him and denied that her husband had anything to do with the sinking of the French trawler.

Now a report by a submarine specialist handed to judges investigating the accident has confirmed that HMS Turbulent was nowhere near the Bugaled Breizh  on January 15,  2004 when other submarines from Britain and other Nato countries were taking part in war games in the area where the trawler was sunk.

“On the basis of technical documents relating to the position of naval vessels at the time of the sinking, the specialist considers that the submarine accused of  involvement was definitely in port,” said Nantes  prosecutor Brigitte Lamy in a statement.

A second separate  report by experts commissioned by the judges casts doubt on the theory that the Bugaled fell victim to a submarine at all.

Traces of titanium found on salvaged trawl cables of the trawler “are not significative of the involvement of a submarine” as “apart from two Russian submarines built in the sixties the protective coating of submarines is exempt of any kind of titanium”, their report said.

The experts point out that paint containing titanium in dioxide form is widely used as protective coating for hulls of fishing vessels and submerged port equipment and suggest the titanium found on the trawl cables was caused by the Bugaled having come into contact with other fishing gear.

Families of the five lost fishermen who live in western Brittany close to the Bugaled Breizh’s home port of Loctudy have always believed that a submarine was responsible for the accident.

A year after the tragedy, a  judge accepted an initial report by marine experts who considered that because the Bugaled Breizh sank so rapidly, the culprit could only have been a nuclear submarine moving at high speed below the waves.

Source – This is Cornwall