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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 16:45 GMT
French trawler 'was sunk by sub'
Bugaled Breizh
The Bugaled Breizh was raised and returned to France
Marine accident experts investigating the sinking of a French trawler off the English coast last year have said the accident was caused by a submarine.

Five French trawlermen drowned when the Bugaled Breizh went down off the Lizard peninsula in January 2004.

At the time, a Nato exercise was underway involving the Dutch submarine the Dolfijn.

The Dutch embassy in Paris says the Dolfijn was at least 15km away at the time of the accident.

But marine accident experts, commissioned to investigate by the families of the Bugaled Breizh crew and the Guilvinec fishermen's committee, say the vessel was pulled under by a submarine.

Dragged down

At a news conference on Thursday, they said a submarine could have caught the trawler cable in its rudder or propeller which could have dragged down the back of the trawler.

"The trawler rears up immediately and sinks from the back end very quickly," they said.

"The submarine can resume its course without too much damage and furthermore the accident goes unnoticed by most of the crew."

This theory has always been denied by the Sea Accident Investigation Office.

The French news agency AFP reports that the experts did not have access to the wreck of the Bugaled Breizh.

In the meantime, official technical and judicial inquiries are being carried out into the accident.

But the Brest-based experts added in their report that other explanations were technically possible, including a collision with a rock or underwater wreck or equipment failure.

"While nothing can be formally proved, and nothing in the judicial file implicates any person in particular, I have the intimate conviction that the Bugaled Breizh was pulled down by a submarine," one of the experts said.

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