Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has said a collision between two Royal Navy warships in a Middle East harbour suggests something “clearly” went wrong, but denied it was incompetence.
An investigation is under way after footage posted on social media appeared to show HMS Chiddingfold reversing into HMS Bangor off the coast of Bahrain.
No-one was hurt but “some damage was sustained”, the Royal Navy said.
Mr Shapps has said he does not know how the collision occurred.
He told Sky News’ Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips: “Just as in aviation or many other walks of life sometimes accidents and incidents happen, there’s a full investigation under way.”
Asked if it was incompetence, Mr Shapps added: “We don’t say it’s incompetence when we see an aircraft come down, a very rare occasion just as this would be a rare occasion, it’s right to leave the investigators some time to work out exactly what’s gone wrong.
“Something clearly did and we need to see what it is.”
The two minehunters had been based in the Middle East to ensure the safe flow of trade through the waters.
Rear Admiral Edward Ahlgren said: “Why this happened is still to be established.
“We train our people to the highest standards and rigorously enforce machinery safety standards, but unfortunately incidents of this nature can still happen.
“I assure you that a full and thorough investigation is already under way and any changes in procedure that could prevent further incidents will be rapidly implemented.
“In the meantime the UK will continue to play a key part in ensuring the safety of merchant shipping in the region.”