Published on 8 Apr 2011 Sections

Royal Navy crewman dead after shooting on HMS Astute

Chief Correspondent

A shooting on board the HMS Astute submarine in Southampton leaves one crewmember dead and another seriously hurt. Channel 4 News learns the leader of the council helped disarm the gunman.

A submarine crewmember has died and a second has suffered life-threatening injuries in a shooting on board HMS Astute in Southampton.

Hampshire Police arrested a Royal Navy serviceman after the incident on the nuclear-powered sub, which hit the headlines last year when it ran aground off the Scottish coast.

Southampton City Council said the local authority’s mayor, leader and chief executive were on board the Astute at the time of the shooting but were not injured.

In fact, Channel 4 News understands that Southampton City Council’s leader Royston Smith was involved in tackling and disarming the gunman.

BBC Radio Solent producer Nicola Murray told Channel 4 News: “It wouldn’t surprise me, he’s a nice guy which a strong sense of justice.”

More from Channel 4 News: HMS Astute shooting: inside the submarine 

Channel 4 News understands that the man being held was a member of the Astute’s security detail and had received weapons training. A Ministry of Defence (MoD) source said the shooting took place below deck.

An MoD spokesman said: “Two Royal Navy personnel have been involved in a firearms incident at Southampton docks where HMS Astute is alongside.

“Sadly, one has now died as a result of his injuries. The Royal Navy is now attempting to inform their families as a matter of urgency.

“A third Royal Navy serviceman has been arrested by Hampshire Constabulary and is now in custody.

“This incident was not terrorist-related and there is no threat to the wider public. We are co-operating fully with the police investigation and a Royal Navy service investigation will begin in due course.

“All concerned family members should call the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre on 0845 7800 900.”

Submarine shooting: HMS Astute. (Getty)

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said: “I am greatly saddened to hear of this incident and of the death of a Royal Navy service person in this tragic incident. 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.”

A Hampshire Police spokesman said no further details about the victims until their families had been informed.

Officers rushed to the docks after being alerted by the Ministry of Defence at 12.12pm today.

Ambulances came in, sirens blaring. Denise Walker

Armed police, firefighters, paramedics and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance helicopter were sent to the dockside where the submarine was berthed.

A South Central Ambulance Service spokesman said the injured sailor was taken to Southampton General Hospital after being given first aid.

Paramedics battled to save the other man but he died of his injuries at the scene.

Dock worker Denise Walker told Channel 4 News: “I went on lunch at 12pm and then we heard a lot of sirens coming in.

“There were about six or seven police cars and a van. They pulled up and the officers got out and they seemed to be having some kind of meeting.

“Then some ambulances came in, sirens blaring. They shot straight up the road.

“I asked a security guard what was going on and he said it was just like a practise run.

“We just assumed it was nothing out of ordinary. Why not do a practise run? It makes sense.”

Submrine shooting: Twitter picture of Southampton dock.

HMS Astute had to be rescued after running aground off the Isle of Skye during sea trials in October. The naval chief who was in charge at the time, Andy Coles, has been relieved of his command, but remains in the Royal Navy.

She was docked at Southampton’s Eastern Docks on a five-day official visit to the city at the time of the shooting. Sea scouts and local school children had been due to visit.

The submarine was launched by the Duchess of Cornwall in 2007 before being welcomed into the Royal Navy in August last year.

The 7,800-tonne vessel is armed with Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The Astute’s nuclear reactor means it does not need refuelling and it makes its own air and water, enabling it to circumnavigate the globe without needing to surface.

Built by defence giant BAE Systems at Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, it was the first of six Astute class attack submarines which will replace theTrafalgar class subs.

Submarine shooting: Ministry of Defence full statement:
"Two Royal Navy personnel have been involved in a firearms incident at Southampton docks where HMS Astute is alongside. Sadly, one has now died as a result of his injuries.

"The Royal Navy is now attempting to inform their families as a matter of urgency. A third Royal Navy serviceman has been arrested by Hampshire Constabulary and is now in custody.

"This incident was not terrorist-related and there is no threat to the wider public. We are co-operating fully with the police investigation and a Royal Navy service investigation will begin in due course."

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