Breaking news.Thirty Five female sailors have been airlifted from Royal Navy ships including HMS Duncan, after discovering they were pregnant while at sea, it can be revealed. The women, who were serving on some of the navy’s elite warships, either became pregnant while on duty or unknowingly conceived on shore. One of the ships involved is the £1bn HMS Duncan, the Royal Navy’s most sophisticated destroyer which is currently heading towards the Persian Gulf to face down threats from Iran.
Around 18 warships were involved in the Medevac operations and some vessels had more than one pregnant sailor removed from duty. The ships included the destroyer HMS Diamond - the same vessel in which a navy chef was court martial after filming himself having sex with a female colleague while in the showers. He was cleared of voyeurism by a court martial.
Also named was HMS Ocean, which had featured in a TV documentary, where at least five sailors were ordered to leave the ship after becoming pregnant since 2005. The ship was decommissioned last year and sold to the Brazilian navy. Details of the pregnancies have been revealed in a series of FOIs obtained by The Sun News Corperation on Sunday.
The documents show that since 2005 at least 35 sailors have been medically evacuated from operational duty after producing a positive pregnancy test. But the figures released by the Ministry of Defence only show those women who were flown home by MoD flights.
Pregnant sailors who made their own way back to the UK are not recorded. The Royal Navy has a strict no touching rule on board all ships even for married couples serving on the same vessels, relationships among sailors of all ranks do take place.
Discipline is one of the Royal Navy’s six core values, and they state in their guidelines that: “The Naval Service must be a disciplined service if it is to be effective. We must, therefore, obey all lawful orders from our superiors. "Self-discipline is fundamental; being able to discipline ourselves will earn us the respect and trust of others, and equip us to cope with difficult, individual decisions we will have to make during our service."
As might be expected, there are also strict Royal Navy rules about relationships on board vessels. The ban on women serving on board submarines was lifted in 2011. Men and women aboard Royal Navy ships are now given separate “mess decks” - the area where they sleep. Navy source .If a relationship between two individuals aboard is discovered then there is a risk of a court martial and even a dishonorable discharge.
In 2014, the first female commander of a front line Royal Navy warship left her vessel due to claims that she had an affair with a shipmate. She was “removed from command” from the Type 23 frigate and appointed to another position. Commenting on the case in 2014, a spokesperson for the MoD said:
“Social misconduct has the potential to break down trust within military units which depend upon respect, loyalty and discipline to retain their close-knit structure and capability.”
The reasoning behind the strict rules on relationships is that there is a risk of relationships inhibiting the effectiveness of Royal Navy operations. The rules are even stricter in the US military, where adultery is listed as a crime under the Unified Code of Military Justice, with punishments including not only dishonourable discharge but jail time.