Submarine officers sentenced over vessel grounding

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The Independent Online

A submarine commander and two of his officers are to be sentenced at a court martial hearing today after being charged over the grounding of their vessel.

Commander Steven Drysdale, Lieutenant Commander Andrew Cutler and Lieutenant Lee Blair all admitted an offence of neglecting to perform their duty at a previous hearing at Portsmouth Naval Base.

The charge relates to the grounding of the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Superb on May 26, 2008.

Cdr Drysdale pleaded guilty to "failing to ensure the safe direction" of the submarine, while Lt Cdr Cutler pleaded guilty to "failing to supervise the plot officer adequately".

Lt Blair pleaded guilty to "failing to take into account all the dangers in or near the planned movements of HMS Superb".

HMS Superb grounded in the Red Sea, damaging the bow and its sonar equipment and causing it to have difficulty diving.

The submarine, which came into service in 1976, was decommissioned in September 2008 although the MoD said the accident had not led to the submarine being taken out of service earlier than already planned.

The sentencing will take place at the HMS Nelson court martial centre at Portsmouth Naval Base.