Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Friday, April 08, 2011

Shooting on HMS Astute

Breaking news from the BBC:
One person has been killed and another is in a life-threatening condition after a shooting on board the nuclear submarine HMS Astute.
A man was arrested after police were called at 1212 BST to Southampton docks where the vessel has been berthed since Wednesday as part of a five-day visit.
The BBC's Jonathan Beale understands that a crew member shot two of his crew mates before being overpowered.
Since initial reports are often wrong, I'm not going to draw any conclusions yet. Prayers going out to all involved.

More information from this article in the Telegraph. It seems a little more sensationalistic (bringing up the "servicepeople who have served in Afghanistan are very likely to go crazy" canard in the 5th paragraph) so I'm less inclined to believe it, but it claims that an officer is dead, and the shooting happened when the off-going topside watch shot his relief and accompanying officer when an argument broke out during watch relief.

Staying at PD...

Update 1124 08 Apr: Here's an update from the Guardian. They confirm that the person arrested was a Sailor, and that the city's mayor was onboard at the time of the shooting.

Update 0927 09 Apr: More information from this follow-up article in the Telegraph and this one from the Daily Mail. The suspect is a 22 year old Able Seaman. The dead officer is identified as Lt-Cdr Ian Molyneux. Sailor, Rest Your Oar.


Anonymous Jinxed, I tell ye said...

The ship is jinxed. Big crane drops heavy object on sub. Fire aboard submarine while docked. Runs aground in sight of thousands. Captain sacked.

Now murder aboard the Astute.

4/08/2011 8:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A nugget from The Sun's coverage - there was a VIP visit in progress with the local mayor and others.

Has a VIP visit ever gone so poorly that you just wanted to kill someone?

4/08/2011 8:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would guess someone got a little tired of field day. Don't blame him a bit.

4/08/2011 8:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The British should not even have subs until they learn how to fix their teeth. And what is up with Kate Middleton? "She" looks like a tranny.

4/08/2011 8:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

BZ Prov!!

4/08/2011 9:02 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Shootings, groundings, propulsion failures...and it ain't us for a change?

Kind of makes you wonder what exactly was said between the officer and topside watch. Usually the watch just shoots himself (cold, I know, but that's been the usual occurence.)

4/08/2011 9:59 AM

Anonymous PS88 said...

I'm starting to wonder if Vigilis is correct about the future of the UK submarine force, and the means by which that future will be realized.

4/08/2011 10:38 AM

Blogger Dale Courtney said...

"The submarine's nuclear reactor means it does not need refuelling..."

I guess my two years as refueling officer in the Charleston Naval Shipyard back in the 80's was in vain...

4/08/2011 10:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shipmate, rest your oar.

4/08/2011 11:03 AM

Anonymous Gashbarge said...

"Runs aground in sight of thousands"

Ran onto a sandbar in sight of two or three people in one of the most remote parts of Scotland.

"I guess my two years as refueling officer in the Charleston Naval Shipyard back in the 80's was in vain..."

Previous RN reactors (Core B, Core Z) needed refuelling. The Astute's, Core H, doesn't.

"The British should not even have subs until...(hackneyed stereotyping etc. etc.)"

Of course, if it'd been a USN boat they would've done a proper job and let the mayor take the planes and sink a ship full of Japanese schoolkids.

4/08/2011 12:42 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

Both officers were shot with SA80 rifle according to UKPA.

4/08/2011 1:45 PM

Anonymous Jinxed, I tell ye said...

Astute ran aground in plain sight from the Skye bridge, and from shore. "In the bridge's first year of operation it recorded traffic of 612,000 vehicles".

"According to the Daily Mail online, a tourist boat was even running people out to look at it."

Astute also collided with the rescue tug.

And now this.


4/08/2011 2:13 PM

Blogger nukerebel said...

Who shoots their relief?!?!

F'ing cone. Forward Area Guys to the Brits.

4/08/2011 3:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe now they can raise that broom!

4/08/2011 4:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of you must be Non-Quals, with the exception of "Rest Your Oar." These are our Brothers you are making such casual jokes about. This is a major casualty, period. Or... maybe all of you guys are, or were, just so fu*king good that you never had a casualty onboard. And you think only the Brits have issues? Be ashamed...
Prayers to the Familes and Shipmates.

4/08/2011 7:04 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

Photos of suspect and subduing councilman posted with suspect's dissatisfaction with back-to-back sea tours. The latter is not fully explained. How long is a UK sea tour?

Certainly not a US norm for SSNs.
Had the guy (Ryan Donovan) come off another sub prior to Astute sea trials, or was he facing many years at sea?

4/08/2011 7:43 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Hey anon--project much? Get some time on the pond and you'll realize just how dark a sense of humor some people develop. I saw it when our topside watch one typical Saturday night told the pier sentry to get a forward draft, walked behind the sail, and blew his head off with his .45, and we were underway for TRE exactly 30 hours later.

And for the record, anyone who turns a friggin gun on his shipmates deserves all the derision and general hate and discontent he gets. Our prayers go to his victim, our scorn to him.

Do try and learn the difference, won't you?

4/08/2011 8:14 PM

Blogger 4MC said...

Troll says "The British should not even have subs until they learn how to fix their teeth. And what is up with Kate Middleton? "She" looks like a tranny"....

Who is this Kate Middleton you speak of, and what is the motivation behind your childish name calling?

4/09/2011 1:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like he was supposed to go to shore duty, but they made him stay for the recent 46 day underway. And then Astute pulled into port for a couple days and he was told he would have to stay for the next 30 day underway as well. That's a lot of sea time for a short timer, especially one overdue to rotate to shore duty.

Saturdays Sundays nights

4/09/2011 4:41 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Extended by 2-3 months? What a whiny bitch. Never happened to me, but I know a couple of boomer pukes who swapped crews for one run, and did back-to-back-to-back patrols. Now THAT would suck.

4/09/2011 5:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back to back patrols? You mean, like a whole 150 days at sea?

Tell that to all the guys who ran 270 day deployments in 2003. Or to any parch sailors, who almost did that as a matter of routine.

4/09/2011 6:56 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

No, back-to-back-to-back. THREE patrols. 210+ days plus turnovers. No offcrew. Just two refits. Hasn't happened in a while, I would imagine, but it did on rare occasion.

And like I said, if this turns out to be a guy who shot officers over something this (relatively) minor, he's gonna go down HARD.

It also speaks volumes to the discipline in all branches that such actions are incredibly rare, particularly given the availability of weapons in just about any situation.

4/09/2011 8:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The victim was the WEPS ("Wee-Oh" in jack-speak). Unsure what Lt Cdr Chris Hodge's job was in ASTUTE.

Terrible tragedy. I hope the RN and the USN learn from this and prevent any such problem in the future.

4/09/2011 9:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terrible tragedy. I hope the RN and the USN learn from this and prevent any such problem in the future.

Yes it's a tragedy, but unless they really missed obvious warning signs big time, what lessons can be learned? Every day between the two countries there's dozens of boats in port with multiple dozens of people armed 24 hours a day. Once in a long while due to law of large numbers somebody goes crazy nuts. And as someone noted above, most of the time when that happens, it's a suicide not a homicide. I can't recall there was a fragging case like this one was.

4/09/2011 12:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, condolences to all involved. I just had the pleasure of hosting several Brits on my boat for a DASO work up and they are a class group of officers and men, so sad this had to happen in their ranks.
Second, I agree with Sparky. As terrible as these things are a good joke never hurt anyone. "Who shoots their relief!?" Hysterical!
Third, I just hope this doesn't lead to me standing behind a bullet proof shield to conduct weapons turnover. To big Navy: do not overreact! Shit happens.

4/09/2011 3:43 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

One really obnoxious guy I had met made it to sub school. Within 3 days, after his psych evals, he was long gone. Not sure that is done so much these days.

Past and present submariners certainly convey Dr. Fox's sentiments and realize a bit more personally how this latest tragedy inevitably impacts HMS Asute's remaining crew. Courage, brothers, and thank you for your service.

4/09/2011 4:47 PM

Anonymous dirty blueshirt said...

We had a topside watch go bonkers one day. It didn't lead to a shooting, but it was headed that way.

Basically, the topside watch guy got tired of always being relieved late for chow, so one day the cooks were running late due to the grill not working properly, so he's double clicking the 1MC and hollering at the belowdecks to get his relief up so he can get some food. No amout of explaination would satisfy him, so when his relief did finally stick his head out of teh weapons shipping hatch, the topside guy slaps a mag into the .44, racks a round into the chamber, and screams to his relief, "Get your a@@ up here you lousy late a@@ sack of s***!". Relief promptly makes like a gopher and drops down the ladder, grabs the DO and says so-and-so has gone crazy topside. Witnesses on the pier came over and talked the guy into turning the weapon over to one of them, and then the rest rushed him and pinned him down until the DO got a hold of Base Police to come over and get the guy. He was dropped subs, and later ended up as a happy well adjusted BM on a frigate.

4/09/2011 7:50 PM

Anonymous dirty blueshirt said...

.45, not .44.....damn fat fingers

4/09/2011 7:53 PM

Blogger reddog said...

Doesn't sound to me like the crew had it together. I never wanted to kill any of my shipmates, even officers, even the XO, although I sometimes did think some of them would have been better off put out of their misery. I never thought it was my call.

We did have an LPO that strangled one of his gang in the chow line once after the guy offered to sell him naked pictures of his wife. Might have killed him if we hadn't pulled him off.

4/10/2011 6:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my experience, submariners can usually ignore the bad voices in their head, or at least distract themselves sufficiently to make them quiet.

4/10/2011 7:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We did have an LPO that strangled one of his gang in the chow line once after the guy offered to sell him naked pictures of his wife."

What did she look like?

4/10/2011 9:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As duty chief, had two topside watches ready to draw on each other one night. Not sure just how loud I got, but yelling wasn't on my management style, belowdecks watch and two others came swarming topside with wrencehs in their hand ready to take someone out because they heard me yelling, which they had never heard before.
(according to them, afterwards, not me.)

Told 'em if they couldn't stand each other, stand on opposite sides of the sail, but I didn't want to fill out the paperwork ir they killed each other. They calmed down.

4/10/2011 10:19 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

A senior Member of British Parliament and defense expert wants to know how the shooter, who wrote violent rap lyrics as a musician, was allowed to enter the Royal Navy's silent service.

Some of us would be very interested to know what nominal duties this musician performs on a deployed nuclear submarine. What rating was he trying to become?

4/10/2011 1:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, I wonder why anyone would ever want to shoot one of their supervisors. Either he was legitimately crazy, or it was a very poor command climate. An extension alone shouldn't cause this. I've wanted to do it before, but not being crazy and my dislike of going to prison keeps me in check.

4/10/2011 2:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 4/10/2011 2:28 PM

With rare exception, your fleeting thought is shared by many nuclear trained enlisteds below E-6.

Ever wonder why that is?


4/10/2011 5:19 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

Donovan has been charged with one count of murder and 3 counts of attempted murder.

Apparently the two officers he shot had been on a panel that had ecently denied Donovan (a SONAR-type sound engineer) a place on a mission. Some speculate that B. Donovan felt discriminated against by the officers he shot, according to Mail.Online @ 10:45 PM on 10th April 2011.

If true, this may answer Vigilis's question regarding which rating Donovan had endeavoured to become - a SONAR man.

4/10/2011 5:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of "bad voices", I was sitting in the Officers Study on a T-Hull after a security violation drill, and was still armed with a 9mm. We had been underway for a few weeks at least, but I honestly can't remember anymore.
While sitting there watching and waiting for the noisy cluster of people to thin out, I had a brief suicidal ideation. It was more than just a passing thought, as I'm sure we have all had them. In this case I could clearly see myself pulling out 9mm, calmly popping in a magazine, racking the slide, disengaging the safety, and blowing my brains out.
I served 10 more years after that, and had one more event like that, but slightly worse I suppose. Matter of fact, if my wife hadn't been home when I arrived, I'm convinced I would have followed through.
Long story short, I fixed myself with a little help, and served my last 5 years before retiring.
Moral to the story....who cares, right? My point is crap like this can happen to most everyone at one time or another. I'm sure there are many other cases like mine where the command, friends, or family are completely oblivious. In these cases little, if anything, can be done to prevent them from occurring. It's hard to "fix" human nature.

4/10/2011 7:51 PM

Anonymous Curtis said...

Nothing at all to do with the situation but I remember the fear in the CO's face after he confronted one of the two PO he had taken to mast and reduced in rank, fined, etc when the next day one of them, now a 2nd Class PO came up to him carrying a shotgun topside.

His outrage was duly expressed to the senior watch officer (me) and I laughed out loud.

I think having some sense of proportion and restraint can be a good thing. Both the XO and CO on that boat were pure. I don't think either were promoted again after.

4/10/2011 8:04 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

"My point is crap like this can happen to most everyone at one time or another."

Possible, yes. Likely, NO! The psych evals can and should weed out the mentally unbalanced and those susceptible to violence as they certainly had where applied (non-nuclear people) in the past.

Nuclear folks were waived due to chronic "shortages". My guess is the RN has a shortage of qualified applicants in the SONAR field, as well, but that is simply my guess.

4/10/2011 8:48 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Isn't "SONAR man" a contradiction in terms?

4/11/2011 5:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a senior petty officer in the Eng Dept during our post EB shakedown cruise, I was assigned a 45 and two clips to guard maneuvering for the "Repel Boarders" stations. We had a lot of odd drills on shakedown that we only ran once.

Having spent too many hours/days during the shipyard participating in the Eng's insanities, I took the opportunity of the first Repel Boarders drill to have some fun. When the drill was called away, I lay to the small arms locker, and drew a 45 and two clips, and signed for them.

Except when they were actually transferring missiles, during the 70's, no one ever got real live ammo for any weapon for any reason, not even the topside watches, so the two clips were empty.

As I ran aft through the missile compartment, I waved the pistol over my head and yelled out,
"Engineer! Where's the Engineer! I want the Engineer!"

The blue shirt nukes I encountered on the way laughed and cheered me on.

After that, the Repel Boarders drill was removed for the Watch Quarter and Station bill, and only non-nukes were assigned to any thing requiring the carrying of a gun, which was just fine with nukeland. No brown belt ever said a word about that to me.


4/11/2011 5:51 AM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

Back in the "dark ages" when the torpedo room watches had a loaded .45 in a locker near their watch station while in port, a senior TM came back from liberty very intoxicated and took the gun from the locker and fired it before anyone in the room could react. I creased a MK14 torpedo before smashing unto the deck. I heard the noise from the wardroom and was greeted by the duty chief with the smashed bullet. Needless to say, the TM was removed from the ship the next morning and we never say him again.
When I was XO in a shipyard overhaul in the seventies, we had a "large" drug bust. The night after the masts, my car (actually registered in my spouse's name) was molotov cocktailed. Fortunately, the fire was spotted and quickly extinguished so all the car suffered was singed paint and a slightly melted front passenger tire.

4/11/2011 10:01 AM

Blogger ryanshaunkelly said...

there are many signs that the UK military is snapping

yet they still think the people will pay for 6 more boats

4/11/2011 2:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had a dude (also a sonar tech) draw and threaten to shoot the COB. He was promptly relieved.

He was back standing topside next duty day. Hmph.

4/11/2011 5:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 7:51, I have had a few of those myself. Kids at home were the only thing that stopped me during those dark spots. Retirement eligible but still serving.

Suicide / homicide...I have had the desire to do one or both a few times on more than 1 sea tour.

This was a tragedy for the boat. I always try to get Doc or a buddy of a Sailor I just failed on his Dolphin board (my average is about 60/40 pass/fail) to get a quick feel for the inside of the guy's brain to make sure the guy didn't feel his world was ending.

4/11/2011 10:37 PM

Blogger MT1(SS)WidgetHead said...

When you step away from the clearing barrel and then holster your side arm, you don't touch the damn thing unless you intend to use it justifiably.

So what is the present method of execution in the RN?

4/12/2011 1:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearing barrel? Whats the river for?

4/12/2011 8:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A clearing barrel when loading and unloading so we don't accidentally shoot someone or something we didn't intend to shoot/blowup/kill or destroy in the first place.

4/12/2011 2:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had a M div guy come up to me one sunday morning in port while I was SDO and say "I don't think I can do this any more...."

Other than a brief thought of "fuck...not twenty minutes before I get relieved...". My reaction was said the magic words!

I grabbed my Duty Chief and sent him with the guy to the base hospital for observation. Called the Doc at home and let him know what happened and where the kid was.

We never saw him again.

4/15/2011 6:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I kept myself alive when I was younger by reminding myself SGLI wouldn't pay for suicides. Since then I've been CACO and seen them pay more than once, I'm glad I'm out.

4/16/2011 2:29 PM

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