Fishermen who had a close encounter with a nuclear submarine say it is not the first time a local fishing crew has had a brush with death.

Irish trawlers who had sailed from Dunmore East were with a flotilla of French boats were approximately fourteen miles off the coast when the submarine suddenly surfaced in their midst. They then watched as it made its way further out to sea.

A submarine is the last vessel a trawler crew wants to encounter. If the submarine gets caught in the fishing nets, the probability of the trawler being dragged under and a loss of life is very high.

Fishermen’s representatives have said the danger to life presented by the presence of submarines in the area is enormous.

The Irish Sea has unfortunately been the setting for several incidents between Irish fishing boats and submarines. Last year the crew of a French trawler lost their lives when their boat mysteriously sank. It is believed that a submarine passed through the vessel’s nets, dragging the trawler down.

Wexford Fianna Fáil TD Hugh Byrne wants the government to take immediate action. In the Dáil he will call on the Taoiseach for an international enquiry to discover what is going on under the Irish Sea, and what can be done to ensure the fishermen’s safety.

One immediate measure being implemented on board County Waterford boats is the change from steel ropes to soft fishing lines. These ropes would break if caught by a submarine and prevent the trawler being dragged under. The fishermen would still lose costly equipment. According to Hugh Byrne,

Fishermen are afraid to go to sea.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 5 March 1984. The reporter is Michael Ryan.