Sounds like no blame for the RN, and the QM handled the situation well. A little more excitment than I'd want if I was QM on duty...
PIRATES OF THE HEBRIDEAN
SAILOR AIMS GUN AS THUGS SWARM SHIP
By Craig Mcdonald [email protected]
A SAILOR had to aim his gun at a drunken mob who tried to board a warship in a Hebridean harbour.
The officer was forced to act after the angry group stormed the gangway of the Royal Navy's HMS Blyth on Lewis.
It followed a fight between some of the 35-strong crew of the minesweeper and locals.
And although the situation finally calmed, the Navy yesterday admitted the quartermaster could have opened fire with his SA80 rifle if he believed the lives of any service personal were in danger.
A spokeswoman said: "We can't take chances with security when ships are at out-of-base ports."
It's alleged one crew member was violently kicked in the initial quayside fight after being chased back to the ship in the early hours of Sunday.
Two were injured and needed hospital treatment.
Earlier, the sailors had been celebrating the end of the Neptune Warrior exercise by going on a pub crawl through the town.
They spent hours in the well-known Hebridean Bar but trouble flared later in the night.
One regular of the Stornoway pub said: "There were a lot of folk from the ship in on Saturday and things were okay at first.
"But as the evening wore on, some of the girls were paying the sailors a bit of attention.
"Things got a bit tense between the local boys and the Navy folk and it basically all kicked off at closing time.
"Some had a go at getting on the ship but thought better of it after a guard pulled out his rifle."
Yesterday, the Royal Navy confirmed that the duty guard, the quartermaster, was forced to raise his rifle and warn the men off boarding the ship.
The standard-issue SA80 rifle was armed at the time with a magazine of about 25 rounds.
The Navy spokeswoman said: "Two members of HMS Blyth's company were assaulted quite badly early on Sunday.
"The incident happened during an altercation with locals when the ship was alongside at Stornoway for a visit.
"The locals then tried to gain access to the ship.
"They got on the gangway and the ship's quartermaster brought his rifle up to arm and issued a warning to them to leave."
She added: "In theory, the quartermaster could have opened fire if he felt his life, or the life of a crew member, was under threat.
"Thankfully, the situation was diffused after the warnings."
Murray Weir, manager of the Hebridean Bar, said last night: "Sailors were in the bar on Saturday and were model customers
"The people who later had a go at them were denied entry by our doorstaff.
"As I understand it, something kicked off outside afterwards, once we were closed."
HMS Blyth, which was launched in 2000 and has served in the Gulf, set sail at 9am yesterday for its base on the Clyde after police investigations were completed.
The vessel is part of Mine Counter Measures 1, the new minehunter squadron at Faslane.
Police say one crew member was detained overnight at the Western Isles Hospital.
The man, who is Scottish but has not been named, was released from hospital on Sunday.
A spokesman for Northern Constabulary said last night: "One man was arrested in connection with an alleged assault in Stornoway.
"It's anticipated further arrests may follow. A report will be sent to the procurator fiscal."