By Kieran Fox
BBC News, Hampshire
The report surveyed 1,333 male personnel from 12 operational ships
The Royal Navy has admitted it has a drink problem.
A report commissioned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) concludes that excessive alcohol consumption or binge drinking are "significantly more prevalent" in the navy than in the wider population.
It also says high levels of drinking are now "likely to impact upon occupational efficiency".
More needs to be done to deter sailors from excessive drinking and avoid the long-term health consequences, it says.
A survey of 1,333 male personnel from 12 operational ships found a quarter drank more than double recommended level of alcohol a week.
The majority (92%) scored as hazardous drinkers while half (48%) reported binge drinking at least once a week and 15% were classed as problem drinkers.
Heavy drinking was most associated with younger age and lower rank sailors.
The research, funded by the MoD, was carried out by the King's Centre for Military Health Research in London.
Surgeon Cdr Neil Greenberg, the report's co-author and a navy psychiatrist, said: " It may be argued that the military culture makes service personnel especially vulnerable to the consequences of heavy drinking.
"In effect, alcohol misuse may perhaps be viewed as an occupational hazard of military life."
The study did have some limitations, he said.
"Although the sample is broadly representative of the navy, it is taken solely from service personnel serving on warships and... alcohol abuse might be more common in this section of the service than in the navy as a whole.
"[Also], it is likely that most of the alcohol consumed was done so whilst ashore rather than in a dependent fashion whilst at sea."
Heavy drinking was most associated with younger age, lower rank sailors
Historically, it may have been the done thing to go into battle three sheets to the wind.
Rum rations - known as "Black Tot Day" - were abolished in 1970.
In part, the report attributes the problem to recruitment, which for the armed forces is weighted towards high-risk groups - namely young single males often from relatively deprived backgrounds.
Cdr Richard Morris, a former captain of HMS Southampton, is trying to tackle alcohol abuse in the navy.
"The navy takes very seriously the duty of care that we have for all our men and women in the service. We have a number of initiatives in place to encourage our people to lead healthy lifestyles," he said.
"In any life individuals can enjoy alcohol.
"There are proven benefits to facilitate bonding and relaxing, our concern is where there is too much alcohol consumption.
"We already have a [mandatory] education system in place. It's clear there are areas we need to tackle."
The report admits that its results may "overestimate the scale of alcohol misuse as a whole" but it does represent those performing the major operational duties at sea.
The US Navy banned alcohol on board any naval vessel or within a navy yard or station in 1914.
Rear Admiral Ronald Henderson, the Defence Attaché at the US Embassy in London, said: "We are very concerned about alcohol abuse in the US Navy - it has a huge impact on sailors and their families.
"I would never try to give advice to the Royal Navy. What I can say is that every unit in the US Navy has a trained counsellor, who knows how to approach people to deal with the problems.