Royal Navy sailor demoted after disabling HMS Sultan smoke alarm so he could vape

A ROYAL Navy sailor has been demoted for disabling a smoke alarm at a military base - so he didn't have to go outside for a drunken vape.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 9:57 am

Able Seaman Marc Bulcock a marine engineer, switched off the device so he could stay inside for a smoke.

But he was so drunk he forgot he had done it and the alarm remained disabled for more than a month, a court martial heard.

The 26-year-old had become upset and decided to get drunk after had been told by his wife that she was going to be deployed in the Falkland Islands, the court heard.

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The west gate at HMS Sultan in Gosport. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150176-3)

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But AB Bulcock will now lose his rank – a position which saw him earn over £30,000 a year – after what was described as a 'foolish and reckless act'.

The engineer, a fifth generation mariner, joined the Royal Navy when he was 19.

On September 27 2020, he discovered that his wife, Sian, a petty officer, was being deployed to the Falkland Islands – where she currently is serving – earlier than anticipated.

The engineer, who has served for nearly eight years, drank 'a considerable amount of alcohol' before heading back to his room that he was sharing with three of his colleagues.

In the room, situated on the third and top floor of the HMS Sultan, a shore base of the Royal Navy in Gosport, Bulcock disabled the fire alarm so he could smoke on his vape in an act that was 'out of character'.

The court heard that 'had he not been that intoxicated then he would not have done so and that is why he forgot what he had done'.

The smoke alarm was then left disabled and was only noticed when a company came in to change the alarms over a month later on November 3 2020.

AB Bulcock came forward and admitted his offence to the police immediately because 'he did not want the other lads to get in the shit for something that he had done', Bulford military court in Wiltshire heard.

Leading up to the trial, AB Bulcock had been 'working hard' by undertaking a year long Leading Engineering Technician (LET) qualifying course of which he had completed eleven months.

Demoting him from the rank of leading hand to engineering technician, Judge advocate general Alan Large said: ‘This was a foolish and reckless act which could have had serious consequences. As a leading hand and marine engineer you know all about the importance of fire alarms.

‘You must have known the punishable consequences of this type of behaviour.

‘As a leading hand, you failed to display any leadership qualities.’

The court martial heard that in the past other sailors had disabled fire alarms at the base by placing bags over them.

The board said: ‘The evidence in this case has shown that it was common practice in Sultan for fire alarms to have bags put over them.

‘The panel advise that routine checks are made of fire alarms.’