Navy officer in charge of nuclear warheads ‘sent home after turning up drunk’

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A Royal Navy officer who was in control of 16 nuclear warheads allegedly turned up to work drunk and scoffing chicken from a bag.

Lieutenant Commander Len Louw alarmed his colleagues on HMS Vigilant when it was temporarily stationed in Georgia, USA.

The crew was preparing to offload the 60-tonne Trident missiles, each of which has the power to create a nuclear blast 30 times that of Hiroshima, when Louw showed up.

It was obvious he'd been on a heavy drinking binge and was reportedly still showing signs of intoxication, it is alleged.

The weapons expert was also carrying a bag of BBQ grilled chicken when he arrived to take charge of the Trident missiles onboard the ship, which was docked at the US Navy's Kings Bay base in Camden County, it is claimed.

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"He was not in a fit state to be in charge of nuclear weapons," a source told The Sun.

"The person he was taking over from realised something was seriously wrong. They had no choice but to alert the higher ups."

Lt Cdr Louw was flown back to the vessel's normal base in Faslane, Scotland in disgrace, and an investigation was launched.

A former submariner said: "It's absolutely shocking. He's the person in charge of the Trident missile system.

"He totally disregarded his duties. It's not hard to imagine the worst that could happen."

HMS Vigilant is one of four Vanguard-class subs which provide the UK's nuclear deterrent.

The 150m-long vessel has become notorious for scandals, earning the unflattering nickname HMS Sex and Cocaine.

A previous captain and first mate were removed from the ship for having sex with female junior officers, while nine of the crew were fired for taking Class A drugs.

Last week The Sun reported a quarter of the vessel's crew tested positive for coronavirus after sailors broke lockdown rules to go out drinking.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: "Where an individual's conduct falls short of the high standards we expect, we won't hesitate to take the appropriate action."

The Navy's official website description of the vessel reads: "HMS Vigilant is the third of the Royal Navy's Vanguard-class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines.

"Together with her sister vessels, she carries the UK's strategic nuclear deterrent.

"The deterrent patrol cycle carried out by the Vanguard-class began in 1969 – and has continued unbroken to this day."

  • Royal Navy
  • Missiles

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