Grounded nuclear submarine HMS Astute returns to base

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A nuclear-powered submarine which ran aground off the isle of Skye has returned to its base.

HMS Astute, the Royal Navy's newest sub, was towed free by a tug boat on Friday evening after being snagged for 10 hours on a shingle bank.

The Ministry of Defence said it had made its way back to Faslane on the Clyde above water and under its own power.

However, a spokesman said the £1bn vessel had sustained "minor damage".

He said: "She is safely back within the base, tied up alongside."

He added: "There is minor damage but she made it back to base under her own steam.

"She was deemed to be perfectly safe to come back under her own power. There is no danger of a leakage and no danger to her crew."

The submarine, which docked with 103 crew members and 11 civilians on board, will now undergo tests on its hull and rudder.

It was escorted into Faslane by the Royal Navy minehunter HMS Shoreham, arriving on the Clyde shortly before 1400 BST.

The vessel was damaged during sea trials when its rudder became stuck in shallow water close to the Skye Bridge at about 0800 BST on Friday.

It is believed a crew transfer from the shore to the submarine was being undertaken at the time.

Investigations are continuing into how the vessel found itself in shallow areas of water which are clearly marked.

The MoD said all issues that may be relevant will be looked at, including whether out-of-date naval charts were in use and whether any of the crew were negligent.

The sub's captain, Commander Andy Coles, from Devon, could face a court martial over the incident.

The vessel, which was built by BAE Systems in Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, was not expected to enter service until next year.

It can carry a mix of up to 38 Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes and Tomahawk Land Attack cruise missiles.

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