A scandal on board the Royal Navy’s Nuclear Submarine HMS Vigilant has brought into focus the state of discipline and professional efficacy of the crew. The navy has discharged nine sailors on board the nuclear submarine after they tested positive for use of drugs - which has now been revealed to be cocaine. The sailors were discharged after they failed a mandatory drug test. HMS Vigilant is one of Royal Navy’s four nuclear-powered submarines and is equipped with American manufactured Trident nuclear missiles. The seamen were dismissed from service under the Navy Act for an act prejudicial to good order and discipline.

As per reports in the Independent newspaper, the navy personnel arranged drug parties, when the submarine had docked in America to load nuclear missiles.

The Royal Navy

The Royal Navy was at one time the envy of the world as it dominated the seven seas. After World War II and the loss of the colonies, particularly India, the Royal Navy has become a shadow of its former glory. At that time the RN was part of the gunboat diplomacy that made Britain a great power. The navy still maintains high standards of discipline on board their warships, but their fleet of submarines is ageing and needs to be upgraded. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has estimated this would cost at least £205 billion.

Senior officers misconduct

The woes of the navy have not ended just with the sacking of the submarine crew, two senior officers have also been removed from command. Stars and Stripes have reported these officers have been charged with sexual misconduct. The officers have been identified by the Navy as Commander Stuart Armstrong and his junior Lieutenant Commander Michael Seal.

Both these officers were in a liaison with junior female crew members under their command. They violated the “no touching rule” that the navy enforces on its warships. This rule effectively bans any intimate relationship between sexes on board any warship. The two officers could face further disciplinary action. Their career in the navy is effectively over.

Drug abuse

The discovery of the drug scandal and the violation of the “no touching rule” has shocked the UK Defense minister Michael Fallon. It is a sad commentary on the state of affairs on board a strike warship and seriously undermines the security of the nation. Apart from the nine sailors being dismissed for testing positive for drugs, there could be more that escaped the testing but took part in the rave parties. This could be just the tip of the iceberg. Considering that HMS Vigilant carries a crew of 121 and 11 officers, it appears inconceivable that only nine sailors took part in the drug parties. This has prompted the authorities to carry out a detailed investigation of the crew and operational efficacy of all warships of the Royal Navy.