It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that two Royal Navy personnel have been killed in an accident aboard HMS Tireless today, 21 March 2007.
The two members of the crew died as a result of the initial accident. Their next of kin have been informed and our sympathies are with them and their friends at this difficult time.
One submariner was also injured. He was airlifted to a US military hospital, where he remains. His injuries are not life-threatening and he is expected to make a full recovery.
The accident occurred at 0420hrs this morning onboard HMS Tireless, a Trafalgar Class submarine, on exercise in the Arctic.
At this early stage, it is thought that the accident involved a piece of air-purification equipment in the forward section of the submarine. The shipâ€™s company dealt with the incident quickly and professionally and, as a result, there is only superficial damage to the forward compartment.
The submarine was never in any danger, its nuclear reactor was unaffected, it quickly surfaced and is completely safe. Tireless is a hunter-killer submarine and does not carry nuclear missiles.
Tireless was taking part in a joint UK/US exercise. She was submerged under the ice cap at the time of the incident. The crew are trained in surfacing quickly through the ice, and did so in exemplary fashion.
Tireless was launched in 1985, but the piece of air-purification machinery thought to have failed was fitted as part of an update in 2001. The piece of equipment which malfunctioned is fitted to all Trafalgar Class submarines. It has a 100% safety record to date but, as a precaution, its use on other boats has been restricted until safety checks can be carried out. It is not essential to the safe running of the submarine.
Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent, Commander-In-Chief FLEET, has made the following statement:
"I very much regret that this incident has occurred and my thoughts go out to the family and friends of the men who have lost their lives.
"I also wish to pay tribute to the crew of HMS Tireless that this incident has been dealt with and contained so professionally."
The MOD would be grateful if media organisations could make clear in their reporting of this incident that the next of kin for both men have been informed, to avoid causing unnecessary distress.