Error In Navigation – Tracing Paper Blamed

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The Guardian tells us:

A nuclear-powered Royal Navy submarine needed £5m worth of repairs after it struck the seabed because a piece of tracing paper covered its navigational chart, investigators have found.

The tracing paper had been used on the chart to protect it from being written on, obscuring vital information.

HMS Trafalgar was grounded near the Isle of Skye in October 2002 because of basic navigational errors during a training exercise for students, according to the official board of inquiry report, which has been released under a freedom of information request.

According to the report, just 90 seconds before the boat hit the seabed, a crew member realised what was about to happen and was recorded as saying: “We’re going to have to change course. This is too dangerous.”

TSSBP gives us a bit of insight:

To me, this wasn’t really a “training aid”-induced accident; I think all boats used tracing paper over charts when you were staying in the same small area for a long time with lots of maneuvering, whether you were doing PCO Ops or not. All submariners, I’m sure, have good stories about where training aids actually contributed to real-world casualties; unfortunately, all of mine happened back aft, so I can’t talk about them.

While The Lone Voice captures our sentiment in this post:

The involvement of unsupervised student submariners in the navigation procedures and the use of tracing paper on the chart were criticised heavily by the board.