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Cold war collision: US and Soviet subs crashed, CIA files reveal

A declassified CIA memo confirms two nuclear submarines bumped heads in 1974.

A Soviet Delta IV class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine underway.
Corbis / Getty Images

A US and Soviet submarine crashed into each other off the coast of Scotland 40 years ago, a declassified CIA memo reveals.

In November 1974, the SSBN James Madison, designed to carry Poseidon nuclear missiles, crashed into a Soviet sub as it loitered outside the Holy Loch base waiting to tail the American boat. Both surfaced before the Soviet vessel submerged and disappeared.

The incident was reported at the time but has only been confirmed for the first time by the declassified memo.

Holy Loch in Scotland was a Second World War submarine base before US subs were stationed there from the 1960s throughout the Cold War. The base was closed in 1992, the same year the James Madison was decommissioned.

The memo is one of 13 million pages of secret CIA documents released after a lawsuit against the US intelligence agency. The cache of files also includes the private papers of Henry Kissinger and details of the Stargate Project, a $20 million secret program aiming to develop psychic abilities in agents and military personnel.

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