On Monday the UK Ministry of Defence confirmed a hugely embarrassing incident involving a security and operations lapse aboard the British nuclear submarine HMS Vigilant while it temporarily was docked during a mission at a US naval base, specifically Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia.
The officer in charge of overseeing the vessel's nuclear warheads arrived to his shift "staggering drunk" while strangely carrying a bag of barbecue chicken.
The scene immediately sparked concern that the officer, later identified as Lt. Commander Len Louw "was not in a fit state to be in charge of nuclear weapons” as there was something "seriously wrong" according to UK media reports.
The alarmed crew then reported the incident up the chain of command and the drunk officer has relieved of his shift immediately, and an investigation ensued. He was reportedly sent back to the UK.
The BBC noted that as the weapons engineering officer on the submarine he was "responsible for all weapons and sensors on board." The sub is armed with Trident ballistic missiles and is thus subject to stringent safety and security measures.
The submarine has been source of controversy especially since the start of the pandemic, given what have been described as multiple safety breaches and failure to adhere to safety protocols.
Royal Navy nuclear submarine officer sent home from US after arriving to take charge of missiles while 'drunk'https://t.co/Jx5LJqU0nZ— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) October 19, 2020
And more astounding, according to the Daily Mail, is that:
The Royal Navy officer had been preparing to start a shift during which they would offload the 16 nuclear missiles - which each weigh 60 tons and have the combined power to kill almost the entire population of the UK.
He reportedly clocked in for his shift after a full night of drinking aboard one of only four submarines that make up the UK's nuclear deterrent.
The submarine is based out of Faslane, Scotland, and UK tabloids have sarcastically dubbed the vessel the 'HMS Sex and Cocaine' due to recent scandals involving the crew partying hard while at port.
You may have seen some reporting this morning on an incident on a submarine. While we don’t comment on the detail, there are numerous safety checks and processes to protect the safety and use of weapons aboard all submarines.— Ministry of Defence Press Office (@DefenceHQPress) October 19, 2020
A week ago the nuclear sub was in the news due to a reported COVID-19 outbreak after crew members were caught breaking port call rules to go to strip clubs and bars.
In a rare communication the UK Ministry of Defence Press Office appeared to confirm that indeed a 'safety' related incident had occurred on the nuclear submarine.
The statement said "there are numerous safety checks and processes to protect the safety and use of weapons aboard all submarines" in relation to an incident that's subject of wide "reporting this morning" but without giving further detail.
No doubt American military authorities at Kings Bay naval base will also have serious questions, considering they've just witnessed a significant operations lapse aboard a foreign allied 'top secret' nuclear submarine docked in US waters.