British navy fires 9 nuclear submariners over cocaine use

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's navy has fired nine sailors serving on a nuclear-armed submarine after they tested positive for using cocaine, the country's defense ministry said on Saturday.

The crew were from HMS Vigilant, one of four Royal Navy submarines which operate the Trident nuclear missile system.

"We do not tolerate drugs misuse by service personnel. Those found to have fallen short of our high standards face being discharged from service," a Royal Navy spokesman said.

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RHU, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 20: Able Seaman Smith and Able Seaman Davies in their Bunkspace on HMS Vigilant, submarine on January 20, 2016 in Rhu, Scotland. HMS Vigilant is one of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines carrying the Trident nuclear missile system. A decision on when to hold a key Westminster vote on renewing Trident submarine class is yet to be decided senior Whitehall sources have admitted. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RHU, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 20: Royal Navy security personnel stand guard on HMS Vigilant at Her Majesty's Naval Base, Clyde on January 20, 2016 in Rhu, Scotland. HMS Vigilant is one of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines carrying the Trident nuclear missile system. A decision on when to hold a key Westminster vote on renewing Trident submarine class is yet to be decided senior Whitehall sources have admitted. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RHU, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 20: Lieutenant Alexandra Olsson in the control room on HMS Vigilant, submarine on January 20, 2016 in Rhu, Scotland. HMS Vigilant is one of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines carrying the Trident nuclear missile system. A decision on when to hold a key Westminster vote on renewing Trident submarine class is yet to be decided senior Whitehall sources have admitted. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RHU, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 20: Royal Navy personnel respond to a fire in a control room of a Vanguard Class ship simulator at Her Majesty's Naval Base, Clyde on January 20, 2016 in Rhu, Scotland. HMS Vigilant is one of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines carrying the Trident nuclear missile system. A decision on when to hold a key Westminster vote on renewing Trident submarine class is yet to be decided senior Whitehall sources have admitted. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RHU, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 20: Lieutenant Benson and WOZ Firth in the missile compartments on HMS Vigilant, submarine on January 20, 2016 in Rhu, Scotland. HMS Vigilant is one of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines carrying the Trident nuclear missile system. A decision on when to hold a key Westminster vote on renewing Trident submarine class is yet to be decided senior Whitehall sources have admitted. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RHU, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 20: WOZ Johnston in the weapons room on HMS Vigilant, submarine on January 20, 2016 in Rhu, Scotland. HMS Vigilant is one of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines carrying the Trident nuclear missile system. A decision on when to hold a key Westminster vote on renewing Trident submarine class is yet to be decided senior Whitehall sources have admitted. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RHU, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 20: WOZ Gray makes his way through a hatch on HMS Vigilant, submarine on January 20, 2016 in Rhu, Scotland. HMS Vigilant is one of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines carrying the Trident nuclear missile system. A decision on when to hold a key Westminster vote on renewing Trident submarine class is yet to be decided senior Whitehall sources have admitted. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RHU, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 20: Surgeon Lieutenant Tweed poses in the sickbay on HMS Vigilant, submarine on January 20, 2016 in Rhu, Scotland. HMS Vigilant is one of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines carrying the Trident nuclear missile system. A decision on when to hold a key Westminster vote on renewing Trident submarine class is yet to be decided senior Whitehall sources have admitted. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RHU, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 20: Chef Sewell prepares a curry in the Galley on HMS Vigilant, submarine on January 20, 2016 in Rhu, Scotland. HMS Vigilant is one of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines carrying the Trident nuclear missile system. A decision on when to hold a key Westminster vote on renewing Trident submarine class is yet to be decided senior Whitehall sources have admitted. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RHU, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 20: Junior rates relax in the mess playing a playstation on HMS Vigilant, submarineon January 20, 2016 in Rhu, Scotland. HMS Vigilant is one of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines carrying the Trident nuclear missile system. A decision on when to hold a key Westminster vote on renewing Trident submarine class is yet to be decided senior Whitehall sources have admitted. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RHU, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 20: Junior rates relax in the mess playing Vickers on HMS Vigilant, submarine on January 20, 2016 in Rhu, Scotland. HMS Vigilant is one of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines carrying the Trident nuclear missile system. A decision on when to hold a key Westminster vote on renewing Trident submarine class is yet to be decided senior Whitehall sources have admitted. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RHU, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 20: STD Skinner poses in the Wardroom on HMS Vigilant, submarine on January 20, 2016 in Rhu, Scotland. HMS Vigilant is one of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines carrying the Trident nuclear missile system. A decision on when to hold a key Westminster vote on renewing Trident submarine class is yet to be decided senior Whitehall sources have admitted. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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The Daily Mail newspaper reported that the sailors had failed drugs tests while the submarine was docked in the United States to pick up nuclear warheads and undergo work, and the sailors had been accommodated in hotels on shore.

A defense ministry spokesman declined to comment on the location of the incident but said: "There is no evidence to suggest any individual was under the influence while performing their duties."

The ministry also confirmed the submarine's commander had been relieved of his command pending investigation, but declined to give details. Previous reports said this was due to an earlier unrelated incident.

Britain's four nuclear-armed submarines each carry eight operational missiles and 40 nuclear warheads, and have a crew of 135. Since 1969 Britain has had at least one nuclear-armed submarine on patrol at all times.

(Reporting by David Milliken; editing by Alexander Smith)

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