Staff, The Guardian
16 April 2015
A crew of Northern Irish fishermen believe their trawler was dragged backwards across the Irish Sea by a submarine .
The skipper of the Karen, Paul Murphy, said his vessel was damaged during the incident on Wednesday.
He added that while none of the four-man crew was injured, the boat and its nets had been snagged, dragging the boat backwards.
The incident happened at a point known as the Calf Man close to the Isle of Man. Murphy said all four men on board were badly shaken by the experience.
“Without warning, we were stopped and pulled backwards very violently at around 10 knots which is the top speed of the vessel. I really thought that was it. It was fortunate that one of the steel ropes holding the net snapped or we would have been pulled under very quickly.
“The incident only lasted about just over five seconds but it was very scary. The submarine did not come up to the surface after we tangled with it. We have now lost thousands of pounds of fishing gear.”
The damage to the Karen would cost about £10,000 to repair before the boat could return to sea from its home port of Ardglass, County Down, the skipper said.
The Ministry of Defence said it did not comment on submarine activity.
A Nato exercise is taking place north of the Irish Sea close to the Scottish coast and involves 55 warships, 13,000 sailors as well as 70 aircraft.
Russian submarines have also been suspected of operating close to the shorelines of the UK and Ireland.
Dick James, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Fish Producers’ Organisation, said military procedures meant
naval personnel were supposed to stop and identify themselves following such an incident.
This week the MoD said Typhoon jets, from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland, were deployed “after Russian aircraft were identified flying close to UK airspace”.
James added: “There has been Russian activity. There have been allied exercises going on, the Russians have been taking an interest in it.”