Monday 24 July 2017

Nuclear submariner 'goes crazy' and shoots officers

Thomas Harding, Gordon Rayner and Victoria Ward

One officer from the British Royal Navy was shot dead and another was critically injured after a colleague guarding a flagship nuclear submarine "went crazy" and turned his gun on them yesterday.

An able seaman held at the scene on suspicion of murder is understood to have opened fire with an SA80 assault rifle at 12.12pm after a row broke out in the control room of the HMS Astute, which was berthed in Southampton, England.

Sources said the seaman had just collected the rifle from the submarine's weapons store as he came on guard duty, and was due to take up his sentry position on the gangplank when the row started. He fired several rounds before he was overpowered.

The dead officer was named by sources as Ian Molyneux, the vessel's weapons engineering officer.

It also emerged that several VIP guests, including the city's mayor, were on board at the time, and a party of schoolchildren was standing on the dockside waiting to board the vessel when the shooting happened.

Britain's ministry of defence insisted that the incident had not caused a wider threat to public safety.

Astute, which has been plagued by bad luck since it was launched in 2007, was on a five-day public relations visit to Southampton. The vessel carries Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

One source said "It appears this (seaman) got into an argument, then just went crazy and began shooting people.

"He has not served in Afghanistan so it doesn't appear to be related to combat stress like post-traumatic stress disorder."

Neither of the victims was in the gunman's direct chain of command and the motive for the attack remained unclear.

It is believed to be the first time a submariner has been murdered by a colleague on board a royal navy vessel.

Bizarre

One serving officer described the incident as "bizarre", since submariners are chosen for being stable and mature characters who can remain calm despite spending months at sea "in a small metal tube".

Southampton council said the city's mayor, Carol Cunio, was on board, together with Royston Smith, the council leader. At least one of the councillors was reported to have helped overpower the gunman.

Astute, the British navy's newest submarine and the most sophisticated hunter-killer vessel in the world, is guarded by its own crew when it is in port.

They are usually issued with sidearms at the head of the gangplank as they come on duty.

John Denham, MP for Southampton Itchen and a former cabinet minister, said: "It is a matter of grave concern that an incident like this could occur on a visiting royal navy vessel." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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