A ROYAL Navy officer in charge of 16 nuclear missiles turned up drunk and clutching a bag of grilled chicken.
Lt Commander Len Louw was hauled off HMS Vigilant from its temporary base in the US and flown home in disgrace.
He alarmed crew members as he turned up to take charge of the Trident missiles — which can kill 60million people.
A source said the weapons expert had been on a big session and was carrying a bag of grilled chicken from a barbecue.
The source said: “He was not in a fit state to be in charge of nuclear weapons.
“The person he was taking over from realised something was seriously wrong. They had no choice but to alert the higher ups.”
The £3billion sub, known as HMS Sex and Cocaine after a string of scandals, was docked at the US Navy’s Kings Bay base in Camden County, Georgia.
The crew was preparing to offload its missiles, each weighing 60 tons, when Lt Cdr Louw turned up.
As weapons engineering officer, his prime responsibility was to look after the missiles.
Each carry three nuclear warheads, as powerful as 30 Hiroshima bombs.
A former submariner said: “It’s absolutely shocking. He’s the person in charge of the Trident missile system.
“He totally disregarded his duties. It’s not hard to imagine the worst that could happen.”
Lt Cdr Louw, in his 40s, was flown back to Faslane, Scotland, where the vessel is usually based, and an investigation launched.
It is the latest scandal to hit the Vigilant, one of four Vanguard-class subs providing the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
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A previous captain and first mate were removed for sleeping with female junior officers, while nine of the crew were sacked for snorting Class A drugs.
The Sun revealed last week how a quarter of the crew tested positive for Covid after sailors broke lockdown rules to go boozing.
A Royal Navy spokesman said: “Where an individual’s conduct falls short of the high standards we expect, we won’t hesitate to take the appropriate action.”
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