Royal Navy nuclear submarine commander John Lewis has been sacked after he organised a barbecue for his crew amid the coronavirus lockdown.
Commander Lewis was relieved of his command of HMS Trenchant and will reportedly be assigned other duties after he was placed under ‘administrative investigation’ over concerns about his judgement.
The barbecue, which took place earlier this month amid the nationwide lockdown, was said to be just one of a number of incidents ‘in which his judgement came into question’, BBC Defence Correspondent Jonathan Beale said on Twitter.
The broadcaster also claimed it was not only senior officers ashore who advised against the barbecue and DJ set, but some of his own crew.
A Royal Navy spokeswoman confirmed Lewis’ dismissal to MailOnline.
The submarine captain was placed under investigation by the Royal Navy after he was filmed hosting a ‘rave-themed barbecue’ at Devonport naval base in Plymouth following two months at sea.
Royal Navy nuclear submarine commander John Lewis (pictured) has been relieved of his command of the HMS Trenchant, the Royal Navy has confirmed
It was reported on Friday he had been sent home on leave and could face dismissal after what was understood to be a ‘terse exchange’ with his superiors.
They were reportedly unhappy he was seen countering their orders in front of junior crew.
Lewis had been told to scrap the homecoming celebration as it was deemed ‘inappropriate’ while Britain was on lockdown in the fight against the coronavirus.
The barbecue is said to be one of a number of ‘errors of judgement’ which were investigated by Navy chiefs ahead of the reported decision to relieve him of command of HMS Trenchant.
In a clip, Lewis is seen standing apart from the rest of the crew talking into his mobile phone soon after music blares out from a mobile disco.
The commander then talks briefly before hanging up with a flourish to loud cheers from his crew, who surround him on the jetty.
Commander Lewis has been relieved of commands of HMS Trenchant and will be assigned other duties after a Royal Navy investigation into the gathering (Pictured: the barbecue)
Commander Lewis held an impromptu party for his crew from the ‘hunter-killer’ sub HMS Trenchant alongside their boat at Devonport naval base after being at sea for two months
Commander Lewis, who is in his 40s, took over command of the Trafalgar-class nuclear-powered fleet submarine less than a year ago.
The shocking clip was captured in the first week of April when the submarine had returned to its base in the Naval dockyard at Devonport following a patrol of several weeks.
Despite effectively self-isolating underwater, the 150 crew were told they had to do the same at home for a further two weeks.
Commander Lewis reportedly arranged the barbecue and disco as a morale booster before shore leave.
‘The commanding officer decided that it would help cheer his men up after a long time at sea,’ an insider told MailOnline.
‘It was his way of letting them blow off steam after weeks at sea where they had been self isolating anyway. They were told on their return they had to self isolate for a further two weeks.
‘Unfortunately, some people higher in command saw this as a lapse of judgement given that most of the UK has been in lockdown and not allowed to have BBQs. It wasn’t seen as the right choice to throw a BBQ.
‘Senior officers take a dim view of a commander countering an order in front of junior members of the crew.’
Footage of the mobile disco on HMS Trenchant (left) was posted to social media. Many of the crew can seen looking on bewildered with their hands in their pockets (right) as the disco blares out music.
Senior officers were said to be particularly appalled that he allowed crew to film the event and post it to social media where it was picked up by an insurance comparison website.
Many of the crew can seen looking on bewildered with their hands in their pockets as the disco blares out music.
A Royal Navy insider said the dockside party is one of several incidents which was under investigation connected to Lewis.
His treatment has divided opinion, with some outraged that he is being punished for looking after crew and others asking if he disobeyed the chain of command.
One Twitter user wrote: ‘The crew of HMS Trenchant have all practically lived in each other’s pockets for months.
‘They had a barbecue and played some loud music. So what. It’s the same as what folk are doing at home. They’re just a massive family. Lighten up.’
Others said he would be in trouble if held the barbecue after being ‘explicitly told not to’.
HMS Trenchant is one of three nuclear powered subs in the Navy’s arsenal
Lewis had previously been executive officer on another nuclear submarine that was at the centre of a drugs scandal in 2017 when nine crew members tested positive for cocaine.
The submarine’s captain was also removed while an investigation into an alleged affair with a female crew member was carried out.
HMS Trenchant is one of three nuclear powered subs in the Navy’s arsenal.
The Trafalgar-class submarine is equipped with Tomahawk cruise missile, which can destroy a target from up to 1,000 miles away.
Powered by a nuclear generator it can stay underwater for months with only food replenishment for the crew making it surface.
In 2018 the sub broke through the ice of the North Pole after a joint exercise with the US Navy. One of the crew posed for a photo holding a cricket bat on the ice cap.
A Royal Navy spokesman said: ‘An investigation is underway. It would be inappropriate to comment further.’