Submariners punished for drunken misconduct

 
HMS Astute

How serious is the problem of drunkenness and indiscipline within the Royal Navy's submarine service?

Figures obtained by the BBC show that there have been more than 300 disciplinary incidents in the past three years on the navy's 13 submarines, including 42 cases of misconduct or unfitness through alcohol or drugs.

The list of disciplinary offences, provided following a freedom of information request, itemises 13 instances of misconduct or unfitness due to alcohol or drugs on the four Trident submarines, which carry nuclear weapons as the nation's nuclear deterrent.

It also details eight drink or drug related incidents on HMS Astute, the submarine on which a junior rating shot dead an officer in April 2011 after binge drinking while on shore leave. All eight cases occurred after this shooting.

An inquest last month into the death of Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux focused attention on what was described as a culture of excessive drinking among the submarine's personnel.

Start Quote

Although alcohol is available on board Royal Navy ships and submarines, its consumption is extremely limited”

End Quote Navy spokesman

The inquest was told that Able Seaman Ryan Donovan had drunk more than 20 pints of cider and lager over two days before the attack, in which he also shot and injured another officer while the submarine was docked in Southampton.

Police investigating the murder were so alarmed about heavy drinking by the crew while ashore that the senior officer wrote to Hampshire's Chief Constable to highlight the issue and the warning was passed to military authorities.

The coroner Keith Wiseman said a culture of drinking to excess had to stop, and recommended that a system of random alcohol testing for crew should be introduced.

The Royal Navy has tightened its rules on alcohol consumption before duty. "We take all disciplinary offences seriously," a navy spokesman said.

"Although alcohol is available on board Royal Navy ships and submarines, its consumption is extremely limited and the RN's promotion of healthy living, coupled with the professionalism of modern sailors, means that fewer sailors drink at sea than ever before," he added.

"This is particularly true of the submarine service due to the demands of operating the boat and the restrictions of working a continuous six-hour watch routine."

Submarines: numbers of offences

2010 2011 2012

Figures based on incidents involving service personnel on submarines

HMS Astute

11

14

26

HMS Ambush

0

3

3

HMS Talent

2

5

3

HMS Tireless

10

4

6

HMS Torbay

3

2

7

HMS Trafalgar

3

0

0

HMS Trenchant

4

22

11

HMS Triumph

7

4

2

HMS Turbulent

16

13

4

HMS Vanguard

14

9

9

HMS Vengeance

22

7

2

HMS Victorious

3

13

23

HMS Vigilant

3

11

10

Total

98

107

106

Total offences 2010-12

311

The most common form of misconduct within the submarine service is going absent without leave, which accounts for about half the incidents.

Download the data

DownloadDisciplinary Incidents within the Submarine Service[95kb]

Alcohol and drug related misbehaviour is the next most frequent issue. According to the Ministry of Defence, these cases mainly involve alcohol rather than drugs.

Those involved are generally punished by a mixture of fines, restriction of privileges and stopping of shore leave.

The navy provided the BBC with details of 311 disciplinary incidents since January 2010 involving service personnel serving on submarines. This covers the 13 submarines in the service, but it can be difficult to contrast the disciplinary records of the various vessels without knowing their schedules and extent of times at sea.

The four Trident submarines are the V-class ones, Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance.

 
Martin Rosenbaum, Freedom of information specialist Article written by Martin Rosenbaum Martin Rosenbaum Freedom of information specialist

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 275.

    Is this REALLY news worthy?
    Or how the FoI Act's use intended?

    BBC: In the spirit of reciprocity pls detail numbers of staff unfit for duty due to drink, drugs or disciplined for bringing the service into disrepute.

    Has the BBC damaged its previously positive links with the MOD/Submariners due to this non-report?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 274.

    Would love to see how all the people here writing negative comments would cope being underwater for 3 month's or more....not very well I think!!!Everyone enjoy's a drink once you get back from a patrol which is something that helps you de-stress.This doesn't mean everyone then turn's up for a duty still pissed.I have plenty of run's ashore but never once turned up hungover for a duty!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 273.

    The navy does take it lightly, in fact drinking on board is rare it is one of the traditions that has died out and why the hell should we limit the amount we drink when we are off work we have a highly demanding job with little time off rubbish hours and poorly payed for the effort, physical strain we under go to protect THIS COUNTRY to allow you idiots the right to FREEDOM and all its liberties

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 272.

    im sickened by some of the comment on here, people really need to think about what they say, special when service personel like myself can read the crap some of you write, if you are found to be drunk on duty or hangover it is a serious crime, in fact it and lead to going to prison (colchester).

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 271.

    Any chance we'll get to see how many BBC staff have had criminal convictions in recent years? Drunken incidents? Let's ask Andrew marr....

 

Comments 5 of 275

 

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