The Royal Navy has confirmed that the nuclear submarine HMS White Vanguard was involved in a collision with a French counterpart, Le Capitulant, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean ten days ago.
Despite having extensive sonar systems, both submarines were unaware of the presence of the other until they crashed into each other, said a naval spokesman, adding hopefully: "Well, at least it proves that the stealth technology works, eh?"
Details of the incident are only now emerging. It appears that HMS White Vanguard's helmsman was engaging in a difficult travelling-in-a-straight-line manoeuvre while scrabbling around on the floor for a Queen CD, when the French submarine suddenly appeared out of nowhere on the wrong side of the sea while its crew were looking at porn on a computer. The White Vanguard's captain sounded his horn, shouted, "Watch out, you wanker!" as required by the international law of the sea and tried to swerve out of the way, but sideswiped a passing whale and bounced back into the path of the oblivious French sub - causing extensive damage to his boat's go-faster stripes and fibreglass air dam.
Both subs surfaced immediately and - according to eye-witness accounts from the shadowing US and Russian subs - the White Vanguard's captain, inspired by centuries of RN tradition, immediately offered to send a boarding party across to "sort out" the French. The slovenly, cognac-sodden captain of the Capitulant, however, merely waved his arms around like an orang-utan, gibbered like a mad parrot and seemed extremely agitated about the scratches on his shoddily-built vessel's paintwork.
Once the traditional exchange of maritime pleasantries was over, both captains exchanged insurance details and sailed off to their home ports.
The details of the French claim are not known; it has been suggested that the details they gave may be bogus, and they may in fact have been joyriding recklessly in a stolen, hot-wired sub. Meanwhile, the Royal Navy is said to be claiming that all sixteen Trident nuclear missiles fell out of the back, and is demanding that Lloyds of London replace the sub with a shiny new one, due to a bent reactor. A spokesman for the venerable marine insurers, however, said that if the senior service checked the small print of its contract it would realise that it stood to lose a £500bn no-claims bonus if the sub was written off, adding that the White Vanguard's captain is liable for the first £3bn cost of repairs out of his own pocket.