Another unwelcome chapter has been added to the short and checkered history of HMS Astute after a serious firearms incident. The nuclear-powered submarine was alongside Southampton during a port visit when two naval officers were shot without warning by an apparently disgruntled naval rating.
The crewman, armed with an SA80 rifle as part of his sentry equipment, was overpowered by a visiting city councillor who was on board for a courtesy visit at the time. At least six shots were fired during the incident, during which the Weapons Engineering Officer was killed and another officer left with life-threatening injuries. The suspect was charged with murder and three counts of attempted murder.
With the Control Room being treated as a crime scene by Hampshire Constabulary, the submarine departed for sea a day later than planned. At the time of writing it was unclear what material damage had been caused by the discharge of the weapon.
HMS Astute has become a regular in newspaper headlines for the wrong reasons, the most infamous being her grounding near the Isle of Skye.