Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has admitted that one of its personnel dropped a submachine gun over the side of a boat.
Government officials listed the Heckler and Koch MP5 assault rifle among firearms and ammunition it has lost track of during the last year.
The machine gun belonged to the Ministry of Defence Police, a civilian force which guards military sites around the UK.
A response to a Freedom of Information request, published last month, lists the rifle as one of 10 which went missing in the 2016-2017 financial year.
Alongside the entry was a comments field, which said: “Lost at sea (fell overboard).”
Both the MoD and the MoD Police have so far declined to provide any more details of how the gun came to end up in the sea, or where the accident took place.
- Ministry of Defence
However, details of the force’s waterborne activities are detailed at some length on its website.
A page entitled “marine units” explains that its officers operate a “large fleet” of inflatable and traditional ships, which work around naval bases in Portsmouth, Plymouth, and on the River Clyde near Glasgow. These operations would provide most of the opportunity for a machine gun to go missing.
The British Army lost the other nine weapons, including a standard-issue SA80 rifle, which was also lost in the water during an exercise in Brunei.
A Glock 17 pistol was lost on an unspecified army operation. Seven more guns were stolen from an army vehicle in Sweden, though the models were bolt-action sport rifles used in biathlon contests rather than service weapons.
The information release also showed that a substantial amount of ammunition had also gone missing.
Between them, the various branches of the military lost 597 rounds of ammunition, all of it live, and also had 41 live rounds and 300 blank rounds stolen.