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Are lurking Russian submarines posing a threat to British trawlers?

It might sound like a plot twist from The Hunt for Red October, but a spokesperson for the Celtic League – the pan national human rights and socioeconomics campaign group – has warned that lurking Russian submarines are posing a tangible threat to Scottish trawlers.

Citing well reports, Bernard Moffat of the Celtic League has issued caution for trawlers in the sea around Dumfries, the Clude Estuary, Kilkeel and Portavogie due to concerns of a Russian sub in the area which is thought to be tracking NATO vessels.

His warning was reported by Down News: “According to well reports, a Russian submarine(s) is lurking in the approaches to the Clyde probably waiting to pick up on a UK SSBN leaving the Faslane submarine base or just probing defences generally.

“It’s déjà vu for Celtic League we monitored a lot of this activity in the 1970-90 periods particularly documenting the incidents and damage to trawlers.

“Everyone thought this sort of problem had ceased with the end of the Cold War in 1990 but heightened tensions between NATO and the Russian Federation means that Russian submarine activity is back on the agenda with the consequent threat to fishing vessels.

“Embarrassingly for the UK, the Ministry of Defence currently has no maritime reconnaissance aircraft and so two planes had to be hastily brought in from NATO allies, Canada and France.

“It is not clear where the elusive Russian submarine is or indeed, whether having caused mayhem, it has left the area by now but our information is that two days ago, the French aircraft (a Bregeut Atlantique 2) was concentrating on an area off the Dumfries coast and in the North Channel.

The Canadian craft is conducting searches in the sea between Northern Ireland and the Scottish Western Isles, operating out of RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland.

Moffat continued:“This is similar to the 1966 Alan Arkin comedy film ‘The Russians Are Coming’ except that with Russian submarine(s) plus UK ones looking for it, if a fishing vessel gets any submarine snagged up in their nets, it could easily end up in tears and tragedy with the loss of life.”

While his warnings of trawler and sub interactions are stark, they are not without precedent. In 2001, the Japanese trawler Ehime Maru collided with American sub USS Greenville off the coast of Hawaii. The trawler sank, killing nine of her crew, including four high school students who were on an educational trip.

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