Ottawa: The Royal Canadian Navy on Friday imposed an almost total ban on sailors drinking at sea after a warship had to be recalled from an international exercise because inebriated crew members got into trouble.
Sailors had hitherto been allowed to drink off duty. Now, they will only be able to sample alcohol on special occasions such as Christmas, if the captain gives permission. In addition, beer vending machines will be removed from vessels.
"The consumption of alcohol will be prohibited while ships are at sea," Royal Navy Commander vice admiral Mark Norman told reporters. "Unfortunately alcohol does contribute to misconduct and has done in the past and we just want to try and regulate that as best we can."
In July, Norman ordered the HMCS Whitehorse back to Canada from an exercise in the United States after three sailors were accused of sexual misconduct, shoplifting and drunkenness while the ship was in port.
Norman said the Whitehorse affair and several other unspecified "questionable incidents" involving drunken sailors meant he had "lost confidence in our collective ability as a navy to conduct ourselves appropriately ashore".
The new rules will still not be as tough as those in the United States, where all ships are dry.