The Royal Navy was accused last night of using “Stone-Age technology” to navigate a nuclear submarine which crashed into the seabed off Skye six years ago.
The attack from Western Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil followed publication of a report on the incident in which HMS Trafalgar hit the bottom at Fladda-chuain during a dive and suffered damage costing £5million to repair.
A Navy board criticised the use of tracing paper overlaid on charts, obscuring vital information about the seabed, substandard chart work, and lack of proper supervision of the three students involved.
Three crew suffered minor injuries in the accident.
The commanding officer, Commander Robert Fancy, and Commander Ian McGhie, who was responsible for the training course, were court martialled and reprimanded for negligence.
Mr MacNeil criticised failing to use modern electronic aids and said: “If you use navigation techniques that are more reminiscent of the Stone Age, don’t be surprised when you hit some stone.”
And Argyll and Bute Liberal Democrat MP Alan Reid said using tracing paper instead of pencilling in courses directly on to charts “was obviously a false economy”.
He said: “These submarines are essential to our defence but the Navy has got to learn that making minor savings in the cost of charts does not pay.”
Skye councillor John Laing said: “I hope that the Navy have learned a lesson and will not be fooling about with nuclear submarines close to human habitation.”
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said the crash was a “near-disaster” and the way it happened during a training dive in October 2002 was “shocking”.
The report revealed a series of basic navigational errors by the students, including failing to take account of strong tidal streams in the Minches.
In the exercise the submarine dived to avoid a simulated aircraft.
A student ordered a turn too soon and unknowingly headed into the shallows.
An unidentified voice was heard on a tape recording 90 seconds before the accident shouting: “We’re going to have to course-change. This is too dangerous.”
Emergency action was taken to bring the submarine to the surface, where checks revealed the hull had not been breached and the radioactive reactor core was undamaged.
A spokesman said: “The Royal Navy requires its submarine commanding officers to be trained in difficult and demanding circumstances in order to ensure that they are fully equipped to command their submarines.”
He added: “In this case a number of factors resulted in the incident — however lessons have been learned and appropriate measures put in place to minimise the risk of further incidents.”