18 sailors test positive for cocaine on Royal Navy destroyer used to catch drug smugglers
Eighteen sailors face being thrown out of the Royal Navy after they tested positive for cocaine on a warship which has been used to combat drug smuggling, the Ministry of Defence said today.
The crewmen were caught during routine testing onboard HMS Liverpool, which is currently deployed in the South Atlantic.
The ship has seized hauls of drugs worth millions of pounds on patrols in the Caribbean.
A compulsory drugs test was ordered after the 240 crew members on board the Type 42 destroyer enjoyed a break, or 'run ashore', in the port of Santos in Brazil. The bust, which has horrified top brass, is believed to be the biggest in the Navy's history.
HMS Liverpool, which is armed with guided missiles and a 4.5 inch gun, is nearing the end of a six-month deployment in the South Atlantic. It is expected that the 18 sailors will be suspended and replaced by other personnel, who will be flown out at the taxpayers expense.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: 'We can confirm that one of our regular compulsory drugs tests conducted onboard HMS Liverpool currently deployed to the South Atlantic produced 18 positive results.
'The Royal Navy does not tolerate misuse of drugs by its personnel and internal action is underway against all 18 individuals. 'Notwithstanding the numbers involved in this single unprecedented incident which is being treated very seriously, it has not affected the ship’s ability to do its job.
'We are not complacent though and our compulsory drug tests will continue to expose those few that let the rest down.
'The UK Ministry of Defence conducts Europe’s largest compulsory drug testing programme and this has significantly reduced drug misuse among Service personnel.' A senior Royal Navy source told The Sun: 'The worst aspect of this scandal is that HMS Liverpool is supposed to be guarding theFalkland Islands and such a large drugs bust hardly does wonders for confidence.
'The idea of a coked-up rating on board a warship with access to such powerful weapons does not bear thinking about. This is a total embarrassmentfor the senior service.' The Navy has kept a presence in the South Atlantic since the Falklands War in 1982, which killed 247 British servicemen.
The bust comes after five soldiers from the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery were sacked for taking cocaine, and eight from the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers also tested positive for drugs.
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18 sailors fail test on Royal Navy Destroyer