US & Canada

Canadian navy sailors face near-total alcohol ban

The Canadian coastal defence vessel HMCS Whitehorse (MM 705) transits the San Diego Bay for Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014. Image copyright US Navy
Image caption HMCS Whitehorse had to return early from an exercise in the US

Canada's navy has imposed a near-total ban on its sailors from drinking while at sea.

Previously, sailors were permitted to drink while off duty; now they will only be allowed to on special occasions at the captain's discretion.

The new measures come after a warship had to be recalled after incidents involving allegedly inebriated crew.

The new restrictions bring the Canadian navy closer in line with the navies of the US, Britain and New Zealand.

Beer vending machines will be removed from warships, and the price of alcohol will be raised in the onboard bars.

Royal Canadian Navy Commander vice-admiral Mark Norman told journalists that several "questionable incidents" concerning drunken sailors had prompted the decision.

"This is about a growing concern over a period of a couple of years where we had growing indicators of misconduct across the navy," he said.

In July, Commander Norman ordered warship HMCS Whitehorse back to Canada from an exercise in the US.

Three sailors were accused of sexual misconduct, shoplifting and drunkenness while the ship was in port.

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