• May 14, 2015


In the same week that the Celtic League has called for international action to protect fishermen from increased NATO and Russian submarine war games a French court has closed a case on the Breton trawler, Bugaled Breizh, which sank off the Lizard in January 2004 with the loss of her five man crew.

Families have pressed long and hard for answers and the strong probability of submarine involvement was apparent from day one as a NATO exercise was underway involving submarines from Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Indeed one of the first vessels on the scene was a Dutch submarine, but the Netherlands navy has always strenuously denied any involvement.

This report from AFP:

French court closes case on mystery shipwreck – The Local

“A French court on Wednesday closed the case of a mysterious shipwreck 11 years ago, dashing the hopes of the five victims’ families, who believe a NATO submarine was to blame.

The appeals court in the western city of Rennes dismissed a last-ditch bid from the families to re-open the case of the Bugaled Breizh.

The fishing boat sank suddenly off Britain’s Lizard Point in the Channel on January 15, 2004, in circumstances that have never been fully explained.

The families believe that a submarine could have been involved as traces of titanium — often used in the hulls of subs — were found on the ship’s cables.

In 2013, French authorities ruled out the theory when two expert reports said neither the Royal Navy’s HMS Turbulent nor any other submarine was involved in the shipwreck.

The US has also denied it had a nuclear attack sub in the area.

French authorities have said that the sinking was most likely caused by a cable snagging on the sea bed.

In a crunch hearing in March, state prosecutor Pascal Bougy called for the case to be shelved, saying that the hypothesis of a sea accident was as credible as the involvement of a submarine.

He said the court should have “the courage to say that we cannot carry out an enquiry indefinitely when we know for sure that there isn’t the slightest chance of proving anything.”

“There is an enormous level of doubt. I don’t know the truth,” said Bougy.

Speaking to AFP before the decision, a lawyer for the families Dominique Tricaud vowed to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

“I think we are getting close to the time when someone in the know, especially in the crew of the (French submarine) Rubis and the Turbulent, will have the courage to tell the truth.”

“One is a seaman before one is a soldier and I think there are secrets that a mariner will not take with him to the grave.””

Despite the Families hope that they will eventually get answers we fear that they may end up like the relatives of those lost of the Breton trawler Cite D’Aleth which sank suddenly off Wexford in 1983 with the loss of all on board. The Cite D’Aleth families also believe there has been a cover-up.

This week the Celtic League urged the Irish government to once again press the issue at the International Maritime Organisation as it did successfully in the 1980s after a spate of mysterious trawler losses in the Irish and Celtic Seas.

Some of the incidents listed – documented by the Celtic League (all Celtic League Military Monitoring Files are now lodged in the archive of the Manx Museum Library:

18th April 1982 The MFV Sharelga from Co. Louth is dragged for two miles and overturned by a Royal Naval sub, HMS Porpoise submarine abandons the crew who fortunately are rescued by another fishing vessel.

18th April 1982 Irish MFV The Crimson Dawn has its nets snagged off Co. Louth.

20th July 1982 A yacht the ‘Fyefield Five’ sunk by a submarine believed to have been the HMS Opossum in the North Channel.

30th July 1982 Breton trawler the Le Corse disappears near the Tuskar lighthouse. All five crew members were lost. Weather conditions good.

6th August 1982 A French trawler the ‘Galv Ar Mor’ went down of Co Wexford weather fine.

2 December 1982 English trawler ‘Algrie’ snares the HMS Spartan in the Celtic Sea.

12th January 1983 Breton trawler Cite D’Aleth, sinks off County Wexford weather fine.

3rd February 1983 Breton trawler Jeanne De Lorraine loses fishing gear after being towed by unidentified sub.

5th December 1983 Trawler, Irish Ann capsized suddenly off Dunmore East.

8th March 1984 Co. Louth trawler Oriel snagged skipper cuts fishing gear.

May 1984 Several trawlers from County Down snagged.

May 1984 Welsh trawler the ‘South Stack’ disappeared off Holyhead in good weather. All hands lost.

15th August 1984 Devon trawler Jaonne C snagged and dragged for several hours.

21st February 1985 Mhari L SE of the Isle of Man. All hands lost.

February 1987 Summer Morn snagged and towed off Ulster coast skipper refuses to cut gear eventually a US submarine surfaces.

September 1987 Boy Shaun sinks off Donegal four die submarine seen in the area.

July 1988 Yacht Drum strubk by HMS Opossum yacht is badly damaged.

July 1988 Yacht Dalraida sunk by HMS Conqueror

5th September 1988 Welsh MFV Inspire believed sunk by a RN submarine off Wales.

Other MFVs snagged in the late 1980s included the Manx boat Laurel (1987) and the Irish vessel New Dawn in both cases the US Navy paid compensation.

22nd January 1989 Fleetwood MFV Lau Ann snagged and towed astern by a submarine off the Mull of Kintyre.

March 1989 Tilj Uilenspiegel Begian (large) trawler sinks mysteriously S.E. of the Isle of Man. Five men drowned weather fine at the time.

22nd November 1990 MFV Antares sunk by HMS Trenchant in the Clyde all four crew men drown.

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


(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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