Ships sunk by submarines since 1945?

Looking around I could only find three mentions of a ship being sunk by a submarine since the end of World War II.

*The Indian frigate Khukri sunk by the Pakistani submarine Hangor on December 9, 1971.
*The Argentine cruiser General Belgrano sunk by the British submarine Conqueror on May 2, 1982.
*The South Korean corvette Cheonan sunk by a North Korean submarine on March 26, 2010.

Anyone know of any others? (For the sake of this thread, I’m only asking about intentional sinkings, not accidental ones if there were any.)

And you must mean intentional sinking of an enemy ship while the enemy were in control of it, and by a submarine.
That rules out mere scuttling, weapons testing or practice…
(eg Australian sub sinks a ex-US navy ship as target practice… that doesn’t count.
Its not enemy. Eg British sub sinks a German ship to scuttle it… enemy wasn’t in control of it.)
There is not a long list of post-WWII sinking of enemy ships while the enemy is in control of it, by any means…
A few more in the Falklands War , sunk by aircraft to surface attacks.

This is a bit of a hijack since the OP is intentionally not looking for these, but there have been accidental sinkings, such as the Japanese trawler that was sunk in 2001.

A submarine also sunk a Scottish trawler in 1992.

This site lists a Japanese freighter sunk in 1981 and a South Korean fishing boat in 1998.

There are some references online to a possible sinking of a French fishing vessel in 1994 but the articles I found weren’t conclusive.

I’m wondering if more ships have been sunk in accidents than on purpose by subs since WWII. There seems to be an awful lot of accidents.

The last is not confirmed if it was a sub is it?

In addition, the Hangor damaged another frigate in the same action, which sailed back to port but was written off. The Israeli Navy might have sunk a ship or two with it’s submarine force in 1973.

But, I think what you state in the OP is it.

Apparently nobody is disputing the Cheonan was sank by a submarine-launched torpedo. There is however a conspiracy theory that it was not a North Korean sub. Some people claim (and their evidence is pretty weak) that an American sub accidentally sank the Cheonan and there was a government cover-up to blame North Korea.

It’s a footnote, but the WWII-era Belgrano (the former USS Phoenix), was sunk by WWII-era Mark VIII torpedoes. Of course, Conqueror herself was quite a bit more modern.

Also a hijack since they were accidents, but Russia initially tried to place the blame for the loss of the Kursk on a collision with a US or British sub. The cause of the loss of the INS *Dakar* in 1968 during delivery remains unknown, as does the French Minerve the same year. The idea that the USS *Scorpion*, also lost in 1968, was sunk by a Soviet attack has been tossed around, as has the theory that the K-129 was sunk by a collision with the USS Swordfish. Any guess on what year it happened? I didn’t read it, but IIRC someone wrote a novel based on the idea that there was a secret submarine war going on in 1968. There is of course no evidence that any of them were more than accidents.

Dissonance, I ordered a book recently about the loss of the Scorpion. It was written in 2011 so I assume it has the most recent knowledge. From write ups it seems little more than a tragic accident.

One book on this is Blind Man’s Bluff (Harper-Collins, 1998) Excellent read.

This seems to be a trend with the former Soviet Union, as they blamed the loss of the SSBN K-219 on a collision with USS Augusta. FWIW, the K-219’s captain, XO, and indeed the at the time C-in-C of the Red Navy, denied that a collision was to blame for the casualty.

A Japanese fishing ship was sunk by a USN sub off Hawaii-I think it was in 1999 or so. The accident happened because the sub surfaced beneath the fishing ship-and destroyed it. The captain of the sub was reported to have exclaimed “what the hell was that!”.

That was the Ehime Maru and USS Greeneville collision in 2001, previously linked to by engineer_comp_geek in post #3.

Oh, I’m confidant it was, as were all the other submarine losses in 1968. I don’t think that there was some conspiratorial secret submarine war in 1968, just a coincidence of losses to accidents that year. I was just noting that the idea that the Scorpion might have been sunk by hostile action was floated about as a possibility. The K-129 being lost due to collision with the Swordfish doesn’t hold up either; the Swordfish was involved in a different accident that bent the periscope in a collision with icepack 2,000 miles from where K-129 went down. An Egyptian newspaper at one point claimed that Egyptian warships had sunk the INS Dakar, but there is no evidence of that either. Minerve failed to report in within a few days of the Dakar and about 1,000 miles away, but there is no evidence of this being more than a coincidence either.

How many small boats have been sunk by accidental collisions with subs? There have been several cases of fishing trawlers having subs snagged in their nets. As a hypothetical, a sub hits a small fishing boat…they surface, find some debris, no survivors-would the captain report such an incident?

I remember reading that the Kursk was most likely sunk by an accidental torpedo explosion. There were rumors that the Russian navy was trying to develop torpedoes that could travel at supersonic speeds.

Well, they DO have a supercavitating torpedo that travels at unmatched speed; possibly that was the source of the rumor?

VA-111 Shkval


The same mechanism has been proposed for the Scorpion sinking.

Apparently it is not a good thing when torpedo motors start up when they are still onboard. :eek:

Well, that’s what the rumor said. I see from the Wiki page that they are listed as being able to travel at 200 knots (230 mph). Still pretty damn fast. For comparison, does anyone know how fast a normal torpedo can travel?

Navies can be coy about this sort of thing. Plus it’s a bit of a tradeoff: you can go really far, but slower, or really fast, but not as far:

Per the above, the U.S. Mk 48 ADCAP torpedo is thought to have a maximum speed of ~55 knots. Would not shock me at all if it actually could burst for faster speeds, especially given the Royal Navy’s Spearfish torpedo, and it’s top speed of ~80 knots. Russian torpedoes include the Type 65-76 that sank the Kursk, and most of these have speeds ~50 knots. I would treat 50 knots as a very rough guess. Air-dropped ASW torpedoes are usually a bit slower, with the U.S. Mk. 46 and Mk. 50 listed at ~40 knots.

The desire for greater range and speed has lead to the use of more energetic oxidizers and fuels, hence the use of High Test Hydrogen Peroxide in the 65-76, and compressed oxygen in the IJN Type 93, “Long Lance.” These compounds can be extremely dangerous and difficult to work with, as the Russians could tell you.