Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Tuesday, 3 June 2008 16:04 UK

MoD acts over submarine incident


Mobile phone footage of the reprimand

Legal action is being taken by the Ministry of Defence after a sentry was caught sleeping on a nuclear submarine based at Faslane on the Clyde.

The incident resulted in a severe verbal reprimand being delivered to the crew, which was filmed on a mobile phone and has been given to the media.

Last week HMS Superb hit a rock in the northern Red Sea, damaging sonar equipment and forcing it to surface.

An MoD spokeswoman said the two incidents were unrelated.

You know far better than to allow stuff like that to happen - as submariners, you accept responsibility for yourselves and your shipmates
Executive officer

The sentry was caught sleeping in January, about two months before the submarine sailed from Faslane. He was removed from the crew and is now awaiting court-martial.

The resulting reprimand to the duty watch, all junior ratings, was delivered by the vessel's executive officer but was captured secretly by one of the crew on a mobile phone. The video was given to The Sun newspaper.

During the six-minute address, which is peppered with expletives, the officer strongly criticised the sleeping watchman, the removal of safety ropes around storage tanks and the turning off of fans.

He told the men: "The incident last night is entirely f***ing unacceptable.

"You know far better than to allow stuff like that to happen. As submariners, you accept responsibility for yourselves and your shipmates.

HMS Superb (Pic: MoD)
HMS Superb ran aground in the Red Sea

"Getting your f***ing napper down while watching a f***ing DVD and swigging lager isn't accepting responsibility for your shipmates.

"It's throwing that responsibility away and saying, to me - I don't give a f*** what happens to my mates on board the boat and I don't give a f*** what happens to the boat.

"That's the worst example I can f***ing think of, but it stirs up some of the other things that have been going on."

Last week, HMS Superb hit an underwater rock in the northern Red Sea, 80 miles south of Suez.

The submarine's nuclear reactor was "completely unaffected", according to the Ministry of Defence. An investigation is under way to determine the cause of the collision.

An MoD spokeswoman said an inquiry had been completed into the the sleeping-on-watch incident and the case was now subject to legal proceedings so no further comment could be made.

"The extent of damage from the grounding is still being investigated and it would be wrong to speculate at this stage about what will happen to the submarine once she is back in the UK."

The MoD spokeswoman said the filming on board the sub was also being looking into, because it was against the rules. Staff were not allowed any unauthorised contact with the media.


I'm a serving private soldier, and just to put my view across, I think that the officer in charge was entirely in his right to give the lads a dressing happens all the time in the forces and encourages personnel to look after their kit and eachother. It's not on letting your mates or unit down, whoever you has the right to throw another's life away for negligence or laziness. If you don't like the way the officer is speaking..get out the forces, because I'm sure all the professional soldiers and personnel won't want to stand next to you in a battle. The forces are with it.
Andy Miller, Canterbury

The report above is disgraceful. The link between the two items is tenuous to say the least. When you accept the "Queen's Shilling" - the normal rules of behaviour on duty go out the window - and forces members have a different set of rules to obey. There is also the issue of peer pressure. By falling asleep on the job - who would be blamed if one of his colleagues was hurt due to his negligence? By berating them all - it makes them ALL appreciate their responsibilities to one another. Any people working with plant / machinery are more at risk than those at a desk - how do you suggest they learn? Wait until someone is hurt and then bawl them out?? Each person must be responsible for their own actions - but also ensure that their shipmates do likewise! Your report completely misses the potential danger of the situation. As regards the collision - wait until you have more facts. Your article says more about the lack of understanding of the situation by the BBC than anything else.
Bill Graham, Aberdeen, Scotland

I used to work in the a la carte end of the hospitality trade as a chef and have witnessed much worse than what you mention above. In the cheffing trade, physical and verbal abuse is common and expected, and yet everybody outside the trade assumes that it's all nicey nicey, bit of cooking, but the trade is full of heat and stress and this inevitably gets vented physically occasionally - and verballly more often.
Tim , Aberdeen

Whilst in these politically correct days, the XO's expletives were wrong, it is essential discipline is maintained, the Submarine Service was proud of its professionalism, everybody's safety being dependant upon it. Recently reported incidents seem to indicate that both discipline and professionalism are declining as the rewards are increasing. The XO should be commended for reminding the crew of their responsibilities, however I expect he will be castigated by a media eager for a story. Regards Ex submariner 1971-89
John Bysouth, Helensburgh, Scotland

In the PARAs, I was beasted because the guy standing next to me had his webbing safety catches undone... it was my responsibility too though, apparently! Press up position, go!
Jack, Glasgow

I take my hat off to that Officer. He was absolutely right. It is great to see that some people in this mealy-mouthed, tippy-toe world we now live in, has the courage and determination to do what is needed.
Peter Norris, Birmingham

Am I thick or what. I was recently in Scotland and saw submariners using mobile phones on board submarines. The submarines were not nuclear powered of British. Now if I break down with my car the breakdown services can tell exactly where I am using my mobile. Now my point is, if submariners (by that we assume the whole crew: over 100 personel and 100 mobiles) are taking their mobiles on nuclear submarines then they are using them so they can be tracked. Is this not a major security risk, as if the phone is switched off it still sends out a signal, so if submariners are taking phones on nuclear subs then they are being tracked unless the batteries are removed from the phones.
Leslie Watson, Swansea

Well done to the "Exec" for getting the message through in no uncertain terms. Shame on the crew member who misused the trust put in him - the reprimand should have been kept "in-house".
Bill, Millom, Cumbria, UK

Submarines are inherently dangerous places and demand a high level of professionalism in order to keep them (and the public who live near them!) safe. That these standards may slip occasionally is human nature but it is up to the XO to deeply impress upon the crew how utterly unacceptable that is. I believe the XO was perfectly within his rights to deliver such a telling off and, in proper context, used a fairly measured approach. I am just saddened and disappointed that some snitch saw fit to undermine the reputation of his boat by selling out to a tabloid. Shame on him and may he not profit by his act.
Dominic Morley, Portsmouth

This XO's reprimand was like a drunken father shouting at his children for spilling ice-cream on the carpet. It was a pathetic example of command and he should be gone. What a disgrace.
Chris Parry, London

I think the men would appreciate and listen to this reprimand because it is spoken in language they understand. It's a pity there is not more discipline like this in other jobs.
Christina Crosbie, Lesmahagow, Scotland


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