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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Shooting on British nuclear sub kills 1

I would like to say for the record that discharging firearms inside a submarine is a Very Bad Idea. At least it doesn't seem to have been underway at the time.

London (CNN) -- A shooting on board the HMS Astute, a British nuclear submarine making a visit to Southampton, left one person dead and another critically wounded, authorities said Friday.

One man was arrested after the shooting, said police, who were contacted by the Ministry of Defense about the incident.

"I am greatly saddened to hear of this tragic incident and of the death of a Royal Navy serviceman," Defense Secretary Liam Fox said in a statement Friday. "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."

No other details of the incident were immediately released.

The Astute made headlines last year when it ran aground off the Isle of Skye, in northern Scotland, while doing sea trials.

Its nuclear propulsion system was not damaged in the incident, and its reactor was declared safe, with no environmental impact. It was eventually pulled free and escorted back to port.

The submarine can carry a mix of as many as 38 Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes and Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, according to the ministry.


  1. This may fall under the category of "you could tell me but then you'd have to kill me", but roughly how thick is the hull of a modern submarine? Could a bullet actually penetrate it?

  2. Hi Cowgirl, email me offline and I'll give you a hint. The short and safe answer is, no, a bullet fired from a small arm probably wouldn't penetrate a submarine hull. It's more like in the movie Guns of Navarrone when the lieutenant explains that the armor-piercing rounds won't actually penetrate the armored personnel carriers, but would instead "go in one side and rattle around a bit".

    The bigger issue is that there's an awful lot of less durable material inside the submarine which could conceivably, for example, explode.

  3. CAPT. RR2: Your photoof Astute shows her flying the Blue Ensign indicating she was not yet commissioned into the Royal Navy. Once commissioned she would fly the White Ensign of the Royal Navy. Space Cowgirl: Two Officers were shot in the Control Room while the vessel was berthed alonside in Southampton. One Officer is dead, he left a widow and four children and the other seriously wounded now in stable condition. For me your remark was just a little flippant but then I am from the Old School (75) so am more formal than todays younger persons. There is coverage in my Blog NAUTICAL LOG which you may care to read.

    Good Watch.

  4. Captains,

    Truly, no disrespect was intended toward the officers of the HMS Astute or their families.

    My question to Robert was a technical one, and very relevant to my own work. Which also, incidentally, relates rather directly to the safety of very brave individuals who travel in perilous environments. Robert is a submariner who also happens to have a respectable understanding of rocket science above and beyond that necessary to simply launch a ballistic missile. That's a rare combination, and I appreciate his willingness to allow me to pick his brain occasionally.

    If I have breached some protocol in doing so, I humbly apologize. That was never my intent.

  5. Incidentally, it appears that the good Captain was correct about another thing as well. If you haven't seen the news, TEPCO is now admitting that the Fukushima accident is an INES level 7 event. I think Robert called that one about a day or so after the earthquake?

  6. This blog has drawn an interesting (and unexpected) mix of sailors and rocket scientists together in one place. For the most part we seem to get along pretty well. Occasionally our different perspectives are jarring to the other (in this case, where the ship captain saw a human tragedy the NASA engineer saw an engineering problem). But even then folks here seem to be able to address their differences in a civil, respectful and productive way.

    This is greatly, greatly appreciated. I'm honored to have such thoughtful and respectful people following this blog. Thank you!!

  7. Space Cowgirl: How very nice of you, it takes a gracious person to correct publicly a misunderstanding. Indeed Robert is pretty sharp and one learns a lot from this Blog, even at 75 there is much to learn thankfully. Mixing seafarers and scientists cannot be all bad!! Regards and

    Good Watch.