British sailors on HMS Queen Elizabeth arrested in first overseas trip
Sailors from the Fife-built HMS Queen Elizabeth have been arrested on the Â£3bn aircraft carrier's first journey to the US.
People in Jacksonville, Florida, saw British navy personnel urinating from a pub balcony, kicked out of bars – and one was detained by police using a Taser.
Six were arrested for drunk and disorderly, with another arrest for trespass in a pub, sources told The Scotsman’s sister title, The Portsmouth News.
Three of the six were also held over resisting arrest.
Jacksonville Beach Police Department confirmed arrests had been made, and a local jail said it was holding sailors on Friday afternoon.
The pride of the Royal Navy, the HMS Queen Elizabeth is the most powerful ship ever built for the British armed services. She was built in Scotland at the Rosyth Dockyards on the Firth of Forth.
Unsuspecting bar owners had not been warned the ship was coming to dock at Mayport, it is understood.
A Twitter account claiming to be run by a police officer in Florida posted about arresting British sailors from the 65,000-tonne ship.
The posts from Wednesday night said: ‘Holy hell Batman. Royal Navy has a ship docked in town and British sailors are wreaking hell at the downtown bars. ‘Y’all from across the pond can’t seem to hold your liquor for as much drinking in pubs I see in movies!’
Taking to Facebook a local nightclub DJ at Jacksonville Beach said: ‘I saw first hand. It was horrible. Fights everywhere. In the streets, bars, and even the parking garage.’
‘Cops started to clear the streets at 1.30am and as they’re doing that another brawl starts between 10 guys in front of the officer.’
He added: ‘Last night (Thursday) wasn’t as bad I think they got a pretty good idea of what would happen if they continued.’
The Portsmouth-based carrier is abroad ahead of trialling F-35B Lightning fighter jets.
Ms Dinenage insisted the incident must not ‘detract’ from the British effort abroad in bringing the ship’s capability forward.
She added: ‘But we mustn’t let it detract from what will be a remarkable visit, seeing the first landing of the F35 fighter jets on board in the coming weeks.’
The navy said personnel were assisting US police. Delphine Coles, 23, from Jacksonville, told The Portsmouth News: ‘My friend works at one of the bars and said some of them were peeing off the top deck and got kicked out. Another friend said one got Tasered for messing with a cop.’
Another tweet from the Florida police officer, which has now been deleted, said: ‘One of the sailors I arrested last night kept asking if the Queen knew. I assured him her majesty probably didn’t. I now know the dumb look I got in return was because he was referring to his boat.’
The ship’s company is on an 11-week deployment, having left on August 18.
A Royal Navy spokeswoman said: ‘We can confirm that a number of naval personnel are assisting US police with their inquiries. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.’
Former First Sea Lord Admiral Lord Alan West said: ‘You might get one or two people behaving badly and that certainly happened in my first 53 years in the navy.’