Senior officer killed in UK nuclear sub shooting

A Royal Navy officer on an N-submarine was shot dead by a fellow sailor.

London: A Royal Navy officer in charge of the weapons on a nuclear-powered submarine was shot dead by a fellow sailor who opened fire with an assault rifle aboard the vessel, Britain`s defense ministry said Saturday.

The gunman seriously wounded a second sailor before being tackled by a visiting dignitary and disarmed.

The ministry named the dead man as Lt. Cmdr. Ian Molyneux, 36, the weapons engineering officer on HMS Astute. It said he died Friday when he was shot by another crew member.

The wounded officer was in stable condition in a hospital Saturday, police said.

A junior sailor, identified by British media as 22-year-old Ryan Donovan, is being held on suspicion of murder. Officials say the incident was not related to terrorism, but have not revealed a possible motive for the attack.

Media reports said the shooting occurred during a shift change of armed sentries aboard the submarine. Some suggested the gunman was distressed at having to return to sea after the submarine`s recent 46-day tour.

The Astute was on a goodwill visit to the port city of Southampton in southern England when the shooting happened. A city official who was among a group of local dignitaries on a tour of the vessel said he wrestled an assault rifle away from the suspect after the sailor opened fire in the submarine`s control room.

City council chief Royston Smith said six shots were fired — two as he grappled with the gunman.

"I ran towards him, I pushed him against the wall, we wrestled to take the gun from him," Smith told the BBC.

"He fired again, I wrestled again to get the weapon from him. I pushed him to another wall. I wrestled him to the ground and managed to take the weapon away from him, then others came to help to restrain him."

Southampton Mayor Carol Cunio, who also was aboard, said she helped stanch blood flowing from the wounded man, who had been shot below the ribs on his right side. "I reassured him and put my hand on his wound," she said. "I pressed on it and kept talking to him until some help arrived."

The 1 billion pound ($1.6 billion) vessel is one of Britain`s fleet of 11 nuclear-powered submarines. The 328-foot-long (100-meter-long) submarine`s short career has been dogged by problems. Originally due to enter service in 2005, it began active duty in 2010, years behind schedule and millions of dollars over budget.

In October, the Astute hit rocks and ran aground near the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scotland. It was stuck for several hours until it was towed to safety. The vessel`s commander was later removed from his post.

Bureau Report