Did a Small French Submarine Really 'Sink' a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier?

Kyle Mizokami

Key point: As well-guarded and built as carriers are, they are by no means invincible. 

In March 2015, one of the largest nuclear-powered warships in the world was “sunk” by one of the smallest.

The Saphir, a French nuclear attack submarine, reportedly penetrated the defenses of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and scored simulated torpedo hits on her. The incident, originally reported by the French Navy, was later suppressed.

On March 4th, 2015 the French Navy announced in a blog post that the submarine Saphir (“Sapphire”) had simulated stalking and killing the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. Not only was the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier simulated sunk but an unknown number of her escorts. The post was later removed without comment from the blog.

Here’s what the world knows: according to the French navy blog post (saved and reproduced by the RP Defense blog), the exercise between Saphir and the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group took place before an operational deployment. According to the French navy, the carrier strike group included several Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, and a Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine.

According to U.S. Naval Institute News, Carrier Strike Group 12 (CSG 12) departed Naval Station Norfolk and Naval Station Mayport on March 5th for a Middle East deployment. CSG12 included the carrier Roosevelt, the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Normandy and Arleigh Burke class destroyers Winston S. Churchill, Forrest Sherman, and Farragut from Destroyer Squadron 2 provided escort.

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