Crew Member Charged over Submarine Murder Spree

April 13, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

HMS Astute, billed as the Royal Navy's most powerful attack submarine,  en-route to Faslane on the Firth of Cylde, south-west Scotland, on November 20, 2009. (Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)
HMS Astute, billed as the Royal Navy's most powerful attack submarine, en-route to Faslane on the Firth of Cylde, south-west Scotland, on November 20, 2009. (Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)
A crew member of the nuclear-powered attack submarine HMS Astute has been charged with the murder of the vessel's weapons engineering officer and the attempted murder of three other officers.

A shooting incident occurred inside the submarine on Friday, April 8th, during a VIP visit while HMS Astute was moored at Southampton Docks. Southampton City Council leader Royston Smith reportedly helped disarm the gunman.

Chief Superintendent David Thomas of Hampshire Constabulary gave a statement saying: "On board the submarine, a firearm had been discharged, which resulted in two crew members being injured. One of these injuries proved fatal."

The Royal Navy released a statement saying, "This incident was not terrorist-related and there is no threat to the wider public."

Able Seaman Ryan Samuel Donovan, aged 22, also know as "Reggie Moondogg", has been charged with the murder of Lieutenant Commander Ian Thomas Molyneux and the attempted murders of Petty Officer Christopher Brown, Chief Petty Officer David McCoy, and Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge. Lieutenant Commander Hodge is currently in Southampton hospital with significant injuries. Donovan was remanded in custody and is to appear at Winchester Crown Court on Wednesday, April 13th.

HMS Astute is the Royal Navy's newest submarine. She carries a crew of 98 men and an armament of Spearfish Torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

HMS Astute was launched on Friday, June 8th, 2007, at BAE's shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness despite a seafarer's superstition stating that launching a boat on Friday is bad luck. The sub was completed more than three years behind schedule and £900 million over budget owing to problems with computer-aided design software.

In October 2010, HMS Astute made the headlines by running aground on a sandbank near the Isle of Skye. The sub had to be pulled free by a tug and her hull was damaged in a collision with the tug. The captain was subsequently sacked.

In December 2010, following repairs, the sub put to sea once more, only to return the same day owing to problems with her propulsion plant.