One dead in shooting on docked British submarine

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A Royal Navy sailor was killed Friday and another has life-threatening injuries after a shooting aboard a British nuclear submarine docked in port, police and the Ministry of Defence said.

A third sailor was arrested and was in custody over the incident in the southern English port of Southampton, officials said, stressing that the shooting was not terrorism-related.

"We can confirm that one person has died and another is in a life threatening condition following a shooting incident on board HMS Astute today," Hampshire police said.

Astute, the British navy's newest and most advanced submarine, was in Southampton on a five-day visit after spending 46 days at sea, according to local media.

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.

"Two Royal Navy personnel have been involved in a firearms incident at Southampton docks where HMS Astute is alongside. Sadly, one has now died as a result of his injuries," the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

It added: "A third Royal Navy serviceman has been arrested by Hampshire Constabulary and is now in custody.

"This incident was not terrorist-related and there is no threat to the wider public."

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.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox offered his condolences to the victims' families, saying: "I am greatly saddened to hear of this incident and of the death of a Royal Navy service person in this tragic incident.

"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 in October last year 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 Friday 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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