While you may not be allowed to vape in your home if your landlord says you can’t, Royal Navy sailors in the United Kingdom will henceforth likely be permitted to vape aboard submarines. As a consequence of a fugitive whistleblower’s publication of a lengthy list of safety failings on the part of the Royal Navy, among which appeared the use of electronic cigarettes aboard submarines, the Royal Navy is now considering lifting its ban on electronic cigarettes. Several Ministry of Defence spokespeople appear to be of the opinion that electronic cigarettes do not really constitute a fire hazard, and that they might be useful in allowing sailors to overcome nicotine cravings while on board.
William McNeilly, the nuclear weapons submariner who, through Wikileaks, managed to publish an anthology of safety failings he witnessed first hand while serving on the UK Royal Navy’s HMS Victorious, recently returned to duty, but not before his whistleblowing led the UK Defence Secretary to declare his complaints to mostly a consequence of misunderstandings, or else totally misguided. The only claim that led to any follow-up appears to have been McNeilly’s claim that a particular sailor on his sub lost his temper after running out of vaping supplies. I would venture a guess that having spent months submerged on a nuclear vessel likely contributed to said sailor’s short fuse, but never mind. As a consequence of that claim, the Institute of Naval Medicine is now investigating whether electronic cigarettes could actually create a fire hazard on Royal Navy vessels, and whether the ban on electronic cigarettes should be lifted in order to allow sailors who smoke to use their preferred nicotine replacement therapies on board.
Interestingly, McNeilly’s report makes no mention of electronic cigarettes themselves as posing any kind of risk; rather, the risk he perceives comes from his fellow soldiers’ reaction to nicotine deprivation. Here is the relevant portion of McNeilly’s report, as published by Wikilieaks.
“It appeared most people had breaking points at some point on patrol. There was one guy who presented a prime example of how someone could go from saying things like “back to back patrols won’t bother me” and “patrols aren’t that bad.” Till completely losing it over a missed placed pair of flip flops. This guy smoked electric cigarettes which are banned onboard. His supply ran low and that’s when he became aggressive. After losing his flip flops he went berserk, he was throwing things everywhere, looking for them. He shouted “everyone on this boat is a bunch of f**king re***ds.” he punched lockers and went on shouting and banging for over ten minutes. Not once did the CAMP watch keeper come over to see what the banging on his compartment was. When someone trying to sleep said “what’s your problem?” he responded by verbally assaulting him. He told him “get back in your f**king bed now you…” If this is how people react to a lost flip flop after a tiny adjustment to their nicotine intake, then what else are people capable of doing once the electric cigarette ban is properly enforced. If the Captain was to catch anyone with electrical cigarettes he would have most likely enforced the ban.”
Well, all right, sailors! Happy vaping!