Sailors to Face Random Alcohol Tests: Navy

Positive results could prompt counseling

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 24, 2013 2:29 AM CST

(Newser) – The Navy is growing increasingly worried about alcohol use in the ranks, prompting random testing starting next month, the AP reports. The Navy announced the plan shortly after the Marines announced a similar action. Leaders aren't aiming to wipe alcohol completely from Naval culture; rather, they want to be sure it's being used responsibly. Sailors who arrive for duty with a blood alcohol level of .04% or higher will be barred from work.

But the program won't focus on punishment; instead, those who show a blood alcohol level of .02% or higher could be referred to counseling. The tests seek to increase safety and prevent an "incident" from occurring "due to the irresponsible use of alcohol," says a Navy official. Alcohol has been associated with military suicides and sexual assault, the AP notes. Out of some 7,500 sailors, 87 tested positive for alcohol last summer, which shows that "the vast majority" of sailors use alcohol responsibly, says a commander.

In this Oct. 12, 2012 photo, sailors participate in M4 rifle small arms certification on the flight deck onboard the USS Underwood in international waters near Panama.   (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
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