• January 1, 2015


One of the most highly successful Celtic League campaigns was that mounted in the 1980-90s to highlight the dangers posed to Motor Fishing Vessels (MFVs) by the submarine forces of NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War.

The League was eventually able via the assistance of various parliamentarians and members of the Dail in forcing the International Maritime Organisation to adopt special safety resolutions to address the issue. This was eventually followed by codes of practice adopted by the United Kingdom covering UK coastal waters.

Sadly whilst our campaign went on suspicious sinking’s of MFVs continued, many unexplained to this day but in some instances with a high probability of submarine involvement.

Also, sadly, the problem did not entirely end with the détente which enabled NATO and the (now defunct) Warsaw Pact to end their deadly game of cat and mouse in coastal waters.

The most recent tragedy was that involving the MFV Bugaled Breizh and now the Cornish branch of the Celtic League are asking that this tragedy is not forgotten and that a proper enquiry is held.

This from Mike Chappell of Celtic League Kernow:

“We still remember the ‘Bugaled Breizh’ – Call for open and full inquiry

Eleven years have now passed since the sinking of the Breton fishing boat ‘Bugaled Breizh’ (Children of Brittany) on 15 January, 2004.
The entire crew of five lost their lives.

Eleven long years of unanswered questions for the families of the Breton fishermen and the owner of the 103 ton trawler from Loctudy in Brittany all of whom remain uncompensated for their tragic losses.

The vessel was well known in Newlyn where she was a frequent visitor.

What exactly happened at 12.25 hours some 26 kilometres south west of Lizard Point, Cornwall on that fateful day remains unresolved.
Weather conditions were good and a sudden and brief radio message made from the vessel informed that it was sinking quickly.
After these words, ‘Come quickly. We are sinking’, no further information was transmitted such as exact co ordinates and no on board lifeboat ever launched.

Air Sea Rescue helicopters were supported by vessels including lifeboats from Penlee and the Lizard as well a Dutch submarine.

The lifeless bodies of skipper Yves Gloaguen, aged 45 years from Finisterre and Pascal le Floch, aged 49 years from Morbihan were soon recovered.

The French authorities in Quimper immediately commenced investigations.

Informally, several explanations were preferred for the sinking, amongst them a fishing accident, collision with some other object – a rock, other vessel or wreck, even a sandbank and a more sinister explanation, that the loss had been caused by a submarine.

A NATO exercise was occurring in the area involving submarines from Holland, Britain, France and that of another unknown country.
On 10th July, 2004, the Bugaled Breizh was raised from the sea bed and a third body recovered, that of Patrick Gloaguen aged 35 years, from western Finisterre.

No damage was found on the vessel other than to the fish tanks which had been compressed due to water pressure.

Eric Guillamet aged 42 years and Georges Le Metayer aged 50 years also from western Finisterre remain missing presumed lost.

During November, 2006, the French Marine Accident Investigation Office published its report stating that the proposition of net entanglement with a submarine was extremely unlikely and that it was more likely that the nets had become caught on a sand bank.
This caused outrage amongst the fishing community particularly bearing in mind that an expert witness declared that a nuclear submarine when entangled with trawler nets could pull down a vessel of up to 250 tonnes in 80 seconds. It was felt that the French authorities were trying to massage the truth in order to avoid a diplomatic incident. Suspicion fell upon several British nuclear submarines even though their cover stories appeared good.

Finally, a French Judicial enquiry reported at the end of July, 2008 that is was extremely likely that the Bugaled Breizh has indeed been lost as a result of an accident with a submarine which pulled the vessel to its doom by its nets.

But, due to the fact that there had been several submarines in the area at the time including one unidentified one, no individual country’s navy could be implicated and therefore no claim for compensation lodged.

Since 1970, the Celtic League has monitored and recorded possible accidents between fishing vessels and military submarines and has estimated that no less than 20 boats have been lost together with the lives of over 150 fishermen.

The Cornwall Branch of the Celtic League continues to call for an open and full inquiry into this matter for the sake of the families of those lost souls. Accordingly, this call has been passed to Andrew George MP whose parliamentary constituency takes in the far west of Cornwall and who has also called for the truth to be revealed.”

Wherever you live in the Celtic countries and member of the Celtic League or not you can support the initiative by Celtic League Kernow by writing to Andrew George MP and supporting their call for action

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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