http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... itual.html
Article includes x-ray image of ingested dolphins.
Up stethoscope. Navy's health and safety bosses say it's a rum do as nuclear sub recruit swallows badge in 'bonding' ritual
By Stephen Houston
Last updated at 11:50 PM on 28th March 2009
It is a fine tradition among Royal Navy submariners. Recruits down a glass of rum containing a coveted silver badge, catching it in their teeth.
But the ‘bonding’ ritual may be banned on health and safety grounds after a young sailor swallowed the 13⁄4inch-long emblem and was lucky not to choke to death.
Horrified crewmates and officers in the mess at the Clyde Naval Base, in Faslane near Glasgow, realised the sailor – who has not been named – was in trouble.
He was taken to hospital, where an X-ray showed the Dolphins badge was halfway down his gullet, heading for his stomach. The sailor was kept in hospital for two days but the Navy is refusing to say whether the badge emerged naturally or if there was an operation to remove it.
A source said: ‘The boy appeared to be quite drunk before he took the rum and seemed to hiccup as he swallowed it. He was lucky not to choke to death.’
The sailor serves aboard HMS Sceptre, a nuclear-powered submarine that carries Tomahawk cruise missiles and has a complement of 116.
Admiralty top brass are now investigating whether to ban the near 40-year-old ceremony.
Another source added: ‘On health and safety grounds it may well be a ban. Everyone is talking about it along the waterfront at Faslane. To my knowledge nothing like this has happened before, and thousands of sailors have gone through rum dolphins. But this could have been so much more serious. Times have now changed. It could leave the Ministry of Defence open to legal action.’
The badge was introduced in 1972 and quickly became revered. It features two dolphins along with a crown and anchor.
All submariners who pass the final part of their training are presented with it in a glass of rum, the Navy’s spirit of choice. Sailors used to get a daily rum ration until it was abolished in 1970.
Last night, Jimmy Sleith, a Scottish Area Secretary of the Royal Naval Association, said: ‘It is harmless and is a tradition that helps enormously with bonding. There are too many health and safety fuddy-duddies and I hope sense prevails.’
A Navy spokesman said: ‘This incident is subject to an investigation.