Sailor charged with murder in nuclear sub shooting

AP News
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Posted: Apr 11, 2011 8:54 AM
Sailor charged with murder in nuclear sub shooting

A Royal Navy sailor appeared in court Monday, charged with murdering an officer and shooting at three other crewmen in a gun spree aboard a British nuclear-powered submarine.

Able Seaman Ryan Donovan, 22, spoke only to confirm his name, age and address during the brief hearing at Southampton Magistrates' Court in southern England.

Prosecutor Nick Hawkins said Donovan was accused of "the deliberate discharge of a SA80 rifle six times, aimed at four people," one of whom died.

He said the military had agreed the case should be handled in the civilian courts.

Donovan was ordered detained until his next hearing on Wednesday.

Lt. Cmdr. Ian Molyneux, the weapons engineer on HMS Astute, was shot dead Friday while the submarine was docked in Southampton on a goodwill visit to the port city.

Another sailor was seriously wounded before the gunman was disarmed by fellow sailors and visiting dignitaries.

As well as the murder charge, Donovan is charged with attempting to kill Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Hodge, Petty Officer Christopher Brown and Chief Petty Officer David McCoy. Officials have not said which of the three was wounded.

Officials say the incident was not related to terrorism, but have not disclosed a possible motive for the attack.

The 1 billion pound ($1.6 billion) Astute is one of Britain's fleet of 11 nuclear-powered submarines. Its 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, it 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.