Ian relives nuclear sub crash terror

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A retired Sutton engineer has told of the terrifying moment when the nuclear submarine on which he served struck a Russian sub while on active service 45 years ago.

Mystery still surrounds how HMS Warspite struck the Russian submarine in October, 1968, and the event is still shrouded in secrecy.

But Ian Wragg (61) of Woodlands Way, was onboard as a young engineer and told Chad about the terrifying collision and the sub’s frantic bid for freedom following the incident in the Baltic Sea.

He said: “I had finished my shift and was down at the other end of the boat having a chat with a mate of mine when it happened at about 8pm.

“There was an almighty bang and the boat rolled 360 over degrees. Nobody really knows why it happened, but most people feel that the Russian boat had slowed down and we ran into the back of it.

“We were all given a tot of rum and told we could have a smoke - we all smoked in those days - then they went up to the surface.”

The sub’s main tower had been badly damaged, and crews had to open the missile hatches to see outside.

When they did they realised that the area was full of Soviet warships who had been called in following the underwater collision and Warspite was forced to dive again.

“It was a terrifying few days,” Ian added. “The Soviet fleet was everywhere, rushing about like mad men.”

The boat eventually limped back to British waters and was escorted to Lerwick in Scotland for emergency repairs before travelling onto Barrow.

Official reports at the time claimed that Warspite had collided with an iceberg.

Warspite was the third of Britain’s nuclear-powered submarines, and the second and final of the Valiant class.

She was launched on September 25th, 1965 by Mary Wilson, the wife of the then British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, and entered service on 18th April 1967.

Warspite also suffered a serious fire whilst in Liverpool on 2nd May 1976, caused by a broken coupling spraying oil.

She was finishing her refit just as the Falklands War started. After the war ended she carried out a long patrol around the island and the Argentine coast.

The £20m submarine was finally decommissioned in 1991 when cracks in its cooling system were discovered.

PICTURED: Ian Wragg (61) of Woodlands Way, Sutton, who has told the Chad about his experiences serving on HMS Warspite.