Officer killed in shooting on British nuclear submarine

8th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Royal Navy officer was killed Friday and another was seriously injured after a shooting aboard a British nuclear-powered submarine docked in port, police said.

A third member of the navy was arrested on suspicion of murder following the incident in the southern English port of Southampton, officials said, stressing that the shooting was not "terrorist-related".

The shooting took place aboard HMS Astute, the British navy's newest and most advanced submarine, which was in Southampton on a five-day visit after reportedly spending seven weeks at sea.

"On board the submarine a firearm had been discharged which resulted in two crew members being injured. One of these injuries proved fatal," Chief Superintendent David Thomas of Hampshire Police told reporters.

"The other crew member was taken to hospital in Southampton with significant injuries. His condition is now described as stable."

He added: "A man, also a member of the Royal Navy, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder."

The spokesman said police would be questioning everyone who was on board at the time, about 30 people, as witnesses.

"Submarine security was not breached as part of the incident and it is not a terrorist-related incident. The vessel, which has been assessed by senior naval personnel, is safe," he added.

Armed police, firefighters, paramedics and the local air ambulance were quickly deployed to the docks, and two police launches patrolled near the submarine, witnesses said.

The mayor of Southampton and the leader and chief executive of the city council were visiting the submarine at the time, around noon (1100 GMT), but were not hurt.

It is thought the shooting was carried out with an SA80 service rifle, and took place during a weapons changeover between sentry duty shifts.

After the shooting, other navy personnel apparently grabbed the gunman and handed him over to MoD police taking part in the civic visit.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed the details given by the police, and Defence Secretary Liam Fox offered his condolences to the victims' families.

"I am greatly saddened to hear of this tragic incident and of the death of a Royal Navy serviceman," Fox said.

"It is right and proper that a full police investigation is carried out and allowed to take its course. My thoughts and sympathies are with those who have been affected and their families."

HMS Astute, which displaces 7,800 tonnes and is almost 328 feet (100 metres) long, was launched by Prince Charles' wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, in June 2007 but was only deployed in August last year.

It made headlines two months later in October when it ran aground off the coast of Scotland and had to be towed home. The submarine was then damaged in a collision with the tug and had to be repaired.

A spokesman for Southampton City Council said the dignitaries who were aboard the vessel had been through a "traumatic experience" but were safe.

"I can confirm that the council leader, Councillor Royston Smith, is on board, as well as Councillor Carol Cunio, our current mayor, and chief executive Alistair Neill," he said.

"We can confirm they are safe and unharmed and should be coming off and taken away by car soon. They have clearly been through a traumatic experience."

© 2011 AFP

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