Dozens of sailors are sacked for drug abuse

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MORE than one warship’s worth of sailors were sacked for failing Royal Navy drug tests in a four-year period, new figures reveal.

A total of 63 sailors tested positive for illegal drugs between October 2007 and July 2011 – more than the number of sailors who typically serve aboard one of the navy’s minesweepers.

Twenty-nine sailors were discharged between October 2010 and September 2011 for a variety of offences, including taking cocaine and ecstasy.

This included two female ratings aged 22 and 23 who both tested positive for cocaine on HMS Ark Royal on March 7 last year – four days before the aircraft carrier was decommissioned in Portsmouth.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, also reveal a male Leading Seaman aged 26 tested positive for cocaine aboard HMS Westminster on May 31 – weeks after the ship returned home to Portsmouth from operations off the coast of Libya.

All the sailors caught using drugs last year were in the UK at the time, apart from a 23-year-old male rating who was sacked after testing positive for the steroid nandrolone aboard the frigate HMS Cumberland in Abu Dhabi.

The Royal Navy, like the Army and RAF, has a strict anti-drugs policy and sailors have to take regular tests.

It is uncommon for sailors to fail but those who do can expect to lose their job.

The statistics show less than 0.02 per cent of the navy’s 30,000 sailors have tested positive since October 2007.

A navy spokesman said: ‘We have a robust anti-drugs policy and will not tolerate misuse of drugs by personnel in any form.

‘We maintain a comprehensive programme of compulsory random drugs testing to ensure maximum deterrence.

‘All navy service personnel, wherever they are serving – ship, shore establishment or on operations – are liable for random compulsory drug testing.

‘Administrative discharge is the normal consequence of a positive test. The procedure allows those who test positive to make a representation against discharge and to contest the results if they wish. They will be reinstated if vindicated.’