THE ROYAL NAVY RECORD OF MISHAPS AT SEA!

The National Archives [NA] at Kew, just west of London, has, under its file ADM1, many stories  about the misfortunes of H.M. Ship's, either caused by accidents, unavoidable situations beyond the control of the captain, or darn right poor ship handling and navigation errors. These are of course documented in the public domain, much to the embarrassment of the Navy.  Additionally, newspaper archives of the broadsheets carry these stories, as do the national magazines of the day e.g., Illustrated London News, The Warrant Officers Journal, The Naval Review and others.  The Hansards Archives records speeches made in both Houses on naval blunders [and accidents beyond the blame of the navy].  ADM156 and ADM 178 covers many of the courts martial resulting from the hazarding of ships resulting in collisions or groundings, and there are many scores of the Records and outcomes of Boards of Enquiry. ADM 182/260 which covers AFO's [Admiralty Fleet Orders] 1187 to 2277, contains AFO 1439/61, and it is from this point, 1961, that I will concentrate on in the telling of the story of naval mishaps at sea, or at least afloat, because some of these mishaps occurred whilst manoeuvring in harbours or restricted navigable waters.

Starting with the day after the AFO was issued [8th June 1961] I will name as many of the known incidents as I can, but in the meantime this is the purport of the text. If you know any more incidents then please get in touch. Thank you.

"Their Lordships are concerned at the heavy toll of collisions, groundings and berthing accidents, which continue at an alarming rate year by year. Not only does this seriously affect the operational availability our our vessels, but also results in a heavy drain on the Navy votes. During 1960, there were no fewer than 110 separate cases in which HM Ships or Admiralty-owned vessels and craft, sustained appreciable damage:-

25 groundings
17 collisions
69 berthing accidents."

Doesn't say much for the professional skills of ship handling and navigation, and didn't some famous sailor during WW1 once ask "what's wrong with our bloody ship's? I think that the Admiralty is asking that same question but for ships read officers!

In this list from January 1962 until October 2010, I have named:-

10 groundings
16 collisions
1 total loss [ex RN boat being handed over in foreign sale to Israel]
2 gunnery accident [which could have been fatal]
1 berthing accident [submarine trim Artemis]
1 near fatal loss due to navigation error [submarineTrafalgar]
1 foundered.

Infinitely better [though in truth I don't know the berthing accidents so my figures are somewhat distorted], remembering these figures are taken over a period of 48 years and not the one year of 1960.  Surprisingly 9 entries out of 32 for the submarine service!  However, during this same period our Fleet has been reduced by two thirds of its 1960 size so fewer ships around to be damaged and few officers around to do that damage.
 

DATE VESSEL REMARKS - Collisions due to war [Cod x 3 with Iceland and Cold with Russia - Ark Royal's collision for example], damage by fire or other [Endurance for example], FAA write-offs, not included
JANUARY 1962 ARK ROYAL AGROUND PLYMOUTH SOUND
AUGUST 1962 BATTLEAXE COLLIDED WITH URSA OFF THE CLYDE ESTUARY. SHE HAD ALREADY COLLIDED WITH SCORPION IN 1954 AND APOLLO IN 1960
NOVEMBER 1962 GREEN ROVER AGROUND OFF NORTH DEVON EN-ROUTE PLYMOUTH TO CARDIFF FOR REFIT IN A FORCE 10- NW STORM. SHE WAS BEING TOWED BY A TUG  AND THE TOW WAS SLIPPED BECAUSE OF THE DANGER OF BOTH VESSEL GOING ASHORE. TANKER LATER BROKE UP..
JULY 1963 LEOPARD COLLIDED WITH SOUTH AFRICAN MINESWEEPER PIETERMARITZBURG OFF SIMONS TOWN
JANUARY 1964 TIPTOE AGROUND GREENOCK
JUNE 1964 DIAMOND COLLIDED WITH SALISBURY OFF ISLE OF WIGHT
SEPTEMBER 1964 LOWESTOFT COLLIDED WITH THE ANCHORED HMS LION NEAR THE FORTH BRIDGE
JUNE 1965 TOTEM RENAMED DAKAR AND UNDER ISRAELI COMMAND EN-ROUTE TO ISRAEL LOST WITH ALL HANDS
JULY 1965 TIPTOE COLLIDED WITH YARMOUTH OFF PORTLAND BILL
AUGUST 1966 TIGER FIRED A 6" DRILL ROUND WITH A CORDITE CHARGE BEHIND IT  INTO A DOCKYARD CRANE, DAMAGING THE JETTY AND SHORE SUPPLY LINES TO THE SHIP
AUGUST 1966 DEVONSHIRE COLLIDED WITH TANKER BRITISH SOVEREIGN EN-ROUTE TO KIEL CANAL WITH CINC HOME FLEET ONBOARD. CAPTAIN AND NAVIGATING OFFICER ACQUITTED OF ANY BLAME.
FEBRUARY 1967 ORPHEUS COLLIDED WITH OPPORTUNE PORTSMOUTH HARBOUR ENTRANCE
NOVEMBER 1967 REPULSE AGROUND ON BEING LAUNCHED AT VICKERS BARROW IN FURNESS
JANUARY 1968 ALLIANCE AGROUND ISLE OF WIGHT
SEPTEMBER 1968 RNR TENDER WARSASH COLLIDED WITH RNR TENDER NORTHUMBRIA UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF REAR ADMIRAL GODFREY PLACE VC IN THE FRIGATE JAGUAR
JUNE 1970 ENNERDALE COLLIDED WITH REEF OFF SEYCHELLES AND SUNK - THE NAVY'S LARGEST SHIP AT 47,000 TONS
OCTOBER 1970 EAGLE AGROUND IN PLYMOUTH SOUND
JULY 1971 ARTEMIS SUNK WHILST ALONGSIDE DOLPHIN. HATCHES OPEN FOR ELECTRIC SHORE CABLE BUT ERROR IN TRIM TOOK HER UNDER
SEPTEMBER 1976 MERMAID COLLIDED WITH SWEEPER FITTLETON [RNR] NORTH SEA WHICH SANK
MARCH 1977 MAXTON FIRED FOUR LIVE 40mm BOFOR SHELLS INTO THE FRIGATE ACHILLES OFF SCOTLAND
FEBRUARY 1983 BROCKLESBY COLLIDED WITH NURTON OFF PORTLAND
JUNE 1984 JUPITER COLLIDED WITH LONDON BRIDGE HAVING REFUSED ASSISTANCE FROM TUGS ON LEAVING THE POOL OF LONDON
SEPTEMBER 1988 SOUTHAMPTON COLLIDED WITH P&O CONTAINER SHIP TOR BAY IN THE GULF. REBUILT FOR 45M TAKING 1 YEAR 40 DAYS TO DO IT
SEPTEMBER 1994 BRAZEN AGROUND IN CANALS PETIGONICOS OFF CHILEAN COAST. FIRST COURT MARTIAL OF A WOMEN OOW BUT LATER ACQUITTED.
JULY 2002 NOTTINGHAM AGROUND ON WOLFE ROCK EAST COAST OF AUSTRALIA
OCTOBER 2002 ST ALBANS ALONGSIDE AT PORTSMOUTH. DAMAGED BY P&O FERRY PRIDE OF PORTSMOUTH ENTERING FROM LE HAVRE.
NOVEMBER 2002 TRAFALGAR HIT SEA BED AT A SPEED OF 15 KNOTS WHILST DOING A DIVED TRANSIT OFF THE ISLE OF SKYE
OCTOBER 2004 ORACLE FOUNDERED OFF GIBRALTAR WHILST BEING TOWED TO BREAKERS YARD IN TURKEY
FEBRUARY 2006 GRIMSBY AGROUND NORTH OF BERGEN NORWAY
MAY 2008 SUPERB COLLIDED WITH CHARTED PINNACLE  IN RED SEA
FEBRUARY 2009 VANGUARD COLLIDES WITH FRENCH NUCLEAR SUBMARINE ATLANTIC
OCTOBER 2010 ASTUTE AGROUND OFF THE ISLE OF SKYE