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 Article written by Martin Rosenbaum Martin Rosenbaum Freedom of information specialist

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  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 175.

    @155... We are better than the average civvy, that's why we do this job and you don't. So stow it.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 174.

    As a serving Submariner, there is not a big drinking culture anymore on Submarines. We like to go out and have a drink together every now and then as millions of people around the UK do every weekend. I'd say 95% of the Alcohol related offences onboard are people turning up for work 5-10mins late after a night out, whilst not acceptable by any means it goes down as an alcohol related offence.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 173.

    I served thirty years in Submarines. The extent of drug/alcohol related offences are really quite small when compared to other industries. For your information, the majority of Submariners do not drink at sea, Working 6 hours on 6 hours off curtails your drinking habits. Go into any major city on Friday/Saturday night, then tell me again how the Submarine Service has a drink problem!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 172.

    As an ex. military man (not navy) I am well aware of the pressures of the work and why people drink.
    Drinking is a routine part of military life, it goes with the job.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 171.

    Many seem to believe that alcohol is readily available on board, in the messes... can someone let my killick know? As he hasn't been stocking any for a few years... These incidents have occurred as a result of people being hungover the morning after. They were unfit to work ALONGSIDE and therefore received punishment, as is right under the Naval Discipline Act.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 170.

    To Olbania comment 8.
    Your comments are totally despicable.
    How would you like to spend weeks,if not months submerged in a very small metal cylinder away from home albeit with a small chance of war breaking out [bliar has now gone].
    Second thoughts---you should be put in a submarine for a few days--you would no doubt end up screaming---and drunk!
    Shame on you!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 169.

    @148.JohnSmithREAL

    ''lets abolish the navy seems to full of chavs... (etc)''
    ____

    Dear Mr Rosenbaum,

    Please study the comments above. The sort of stuff that your (non) story attracts. Such blogs are read by many naval men, and women, possessed of great pride and dignity.

    Yes to free information, Yes to free-speech (even for jerks)

    You too are free Mr Rosenbaum: Free to think before you write

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 168.

    I am Watching this with interest I Have a Group On Facebook That is also following this . one of them is the Widow of Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux . Like some have said on Here this was indeed a Rare and Very sad Incident But lets keep this in Perspective . I Quote > The most common form of misconduct within the submarine service is going absent without leave, which accounts for about half the incidents.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 167.

    Sailors should be allowed to let their hair down sometimes of course they should. However there does have to be some rules! In the case of a nuclear submarine safeguarding the nations nuclear deterrent there does need to be a bit of discipline!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 166.

    It might help if we legalized something with more short term and less damaging effects as a recreational drug than Alcohol which is just poisonous compared to many (illegal) alternatives available today. Call this a civilized country, pah. way to go. Our ancestors will rightly be appalled by our barbarism.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 165.

    I'm not sure why this is a HYS topic but for what it's worth I think the numbers are quite low! Thes men do a tough job, the majority will know where to draw the line especially before setting sail on operations. For those who don't there is the system of military discipline which works.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 164.

    Half of the offences are people going AWOL, sounds like a storm in a teacup to me, I thought it was part and parcel of military life to be punished for even the most minor of offences.

    Working on a submarine must be a tough life anyway, being away from friends and family for long periods of time, I think I would drink a bit too.

    I thought the Navy had a reputation for drinking anyhow.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 163.

    As proved by JohnSmithREAL and 01001100011100001111, all ill-informed and badly presented stories like this do is to illicit stupid opinions and comments, based on assumption rather than fact, from further ill-informed/ignorant people. Pointless discussing anything with people like this who are so easily led by bad journalism!

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 162.

    @134. 01001100011100001111
    Let's get this straight. You don't actually know what you are talking about, and have no knowledge of the situation re drink in the RN and have resorted to making assumptions which have no relevance to the actual sad event which as far as I am aware is the first of its kind in over one hundred years of service. This is an exceptionally unusual and extremely sad event.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 161.

    @155 It hasn't hit a home-truth at all, you ignormaus, I KNOW from experience that incidents like this are rare and certainly occur a lot less frequently than in the civilian world. No truth is being hidden, but the way the story has been presented is skewed, which leads to the likes of you making an overstated song and dance about it. And the figures mean nothing as there is no context!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 160.

    If its the same as it was when I was in boats, over doing the drink was always a bit of problem for some crewmen when the submarine visited anywhere but its home port. Crew not on duty are put in hotels and paid subsistence (Beer money). Thank heavens the trot sentries weren't armed in my day. Sign of the times it looks like random tests need to be carried out before giving people guns.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 159.

    @155 - I'll let one of the military people respond to this as they will be able to do so with the guiding hand of experience.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 158.

    This article is so typical of journalistic claptrap - when will they do an article on the drinking habits of News Journalists or HGV Drivers or Accountants etc. Clearly members of the Armed Forces are easy targets as they are already in a defined group. I am not for one moment condoning the excessive drinking, but stop picking easy targets.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 157.

    A simple google search for 'drunk BBC journalist' returned a number of hits from the violent to the sexually lewd.
    What you get up to in your own time is entirely your own business and I can speak with authority that when our guys get their 6 hours off whilst at sea they do not act in a way anywhere near similar to those reported on at the above google search.
    I could go on........ Actually I will

  • Comment number 156.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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