Navy tows Canadian submarine back to UK

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The Independent Online

The Canadian submarine stranded in the North Atlantic for three days was last night being towed towards the west coast of Scotland as the rescue operation surrounding it was scaled down.

The Canadian submarine stranded in the North Atlantic for three days was last night being towed towards the west coast of Scotland as the rescue operation surrounding it was scaled down.

HMCS Chicoutimi, a former British submarine sold to Canada, was still 40 miles west of Ireland and being towed by a tug, the Anglian Prince, towards either the Royal Navy base at Faslane or the shipyards at Barrow-in-Furness where its original refit was carried out.

A final decision on the destination will be taken by the Canadian navy over the weekend. The submarine and its tug were only travelling at around two or three knots and were not expected to reach the coast until late on Monday.

The Ministry of Defence said that HMS Montrose and a Royal Navy auxiliary ship were on standby for communications and in case of any emergency, but other ships would be returning to their bases. A Canadian ship, the HMC St Johns, is on its way to the area.

The vessel was rendered powerless and drifting by a fire which broke out on Tuesday afternoon, although some power and steering were restored on Wednesday. One crew member died later from heart failure brought on by smoke inhalation, while two others remain in hospital at Sligo in Ireland, one in a serious condition.

The MoD said members of the remaining crew of 54 had been taken in rotation on to HMS Montrose for food and showers but that conditions aboard the submarine were comfortable. Weather conditions have also improved.

The submarine, formerly HMS Upholder, was the last of four diesel-electric boats sold by Britain to Canada in a deal that has been plagued by technical problems. The Canadian government is under pressure to seek compensation.

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