The US Navy used this deadly submarine disaster to help train responders to save a sinking sub

The US Navy recently conducted a search-and-rescue exercise testing its ability to respond to a sinking submarine. Such situations are rare, but they do happen and can be deadly. Delays and inaction can cost lives, so every second counts.

The exercise, SMASHEX, was broken down into two scenarios: a missed meeting where the fictitious USS Neversail is a no-show for an expected port visit and an emergency transmission for a submarine in distress, Submarine Forces told Insider.

The recent US Navy exercise “used elements from the sinking of HMS Truculent,” the spokesperson said, referring to an accident in which a British submarine was involved in a disastrous collision with a merchant vessel and 64 people died.

On January 12, 1950, HMS Truculent, a battle-tested British Royal Navy submarine that sank both German and Japanese vessels during World War II, crashed into the Swedish oil tanker Divina in the Thames Estuary.

Much of the sub’s crew managed to survive the initial crash and escape the distressed submarine, but many who made it out died in the freezing cold.

Only 15 people survived the tragic accident, which one naval historian, who interviewed the last living survivor of the Truculent, characterized as a “stupid mistake” in 2019.

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