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Thu 5 Jun 2014 01:44 PM

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UK submarine commander reveals near-disaster off UAE coast

Crew onboard submarine off Fujairah coast nearly cooked to death when crustaceans blocked air-conditioners, sending temperatures soaring to 60C

UK submarine commander reveals near-disaster off UAE coast
(Getty Images - Photo for illustrative purpose only)

The commander of a British nuclear submarine stationed in the UAE has revealed for the first time how his crew nearly cooked to death when air-conditioners failed hundreds of metres under water in 2011.

Temperatures inside the submarine hit 60 degrees Celsius when crustaceans blocked the airways three hours after the vessel had left the shores of Fujairah, where it had been carrying out a secret mission, British media has reported.

The near-disaster has been revealed three years later by retired HMS Turbulent commander Ryan Ramsey, who was in charge of the submarine at the time.

About one-fifth of the crew on board were affected, with 8 sailors quickly becoming seriously ill and 18 others suffering heat stroke.

Ramsey ordered the submarine to dive 200 metres to cooler temperatures, allowing the repair crews time to find a cause for the faulty ventilation.

"I genuinely thought there was going to be a loss of life on board - people were going to die,” Ramsey was quoted as saying by Express newspaper.

"People were just collapsing everywhere, many at their work stations."

The repair crew managed to identify the problem and the air-conditioning returned to normal 24 hours later.

"I knew the water would be cooler the deeper we went, so we must be able to reduce the temperature in the submarine," Ramsey told the BBC.

"Engineers found the solution pretty quickly and ended up blowing air through the cooling system which got rid of most of the crustaceans."

Ramsey said the Royal Navy had now incorporated the problem into its submarine training.

HMS Turbulent had been commissioned in 1984 during the Cold War with Russia. Afterwards, she conducted intelligence gathering missions and commando landings, as well as firing Tomahawk missiles during the 2003 Iraq war, according to reports.

The submarine was decommissioned in July 2012.

In a statement, a Royal Navy spokesman said of the incident: "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."

UAE authorities have not publicly commented on the incident.

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