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Royal Navy sailors hurl Ronald McDonald into Chilean harbour

Matelots in bungled Valparaiso hamburgling

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Two Royal Navy sailors have appeared in a Chilean court for stealing a life-sized plastic statue of Ronald McDonald from an outlet of the popular animal-products-in-a-bun globocorp. The mischievous matelots were thought to have hurled the tasteful icon of American capitalism into the harbour.

The BBC reports that the duo were from HMS Manchester, currently visiting the Chilean port of Valparaiso after an eight-week patrol in the South Atlantic. The Type 42 destroyer is scheduled to return to her base at Portsmouth in August.

According to the Beeb, the two sailors were braceleted by the Valparaiso heat on Monday, and hauled up before a judge who fined them £350 for the plastic figurehead harbour jettison outrage hi-jinks. The incident apparently received extensive media coverage in Chile, with a local source telling the BBC that "most Chileans laughed" on hearing the story.

The Ministry of Defence in London said that the errant sailors were now back aboard their destroyer and that they had offered formal apologies to McDonald's.

During your correspondent's time in the Service, it would have been normal - in the disappointing event of sailors being unable to manage a basic statue theft without being arrested - for the ship's executive officer to strike some kind of deal with the burger people and the Valparaiso cops that would have avoided the need for a court appearance, but possibly things have changed.

"The Navy does not condone unlawful activity," an MoD spokesman told the Beeb.

The BBC adds that the destroyer "is the third to carry the City of Manchester name and coat of arms on its funnel", which seems a bit odd as the first Manchester was at sea in 1814 - well before funnels were seen on seagoing vessels.

The ship's history page adds an even more unbelievable statement. It says that despite the current Manchester's advanced age - in service since 1980 - and the highly dubious effectiveness of the Type 42 destroyers even when new, she "remains one of the most potent weapons platforms in the world". ®

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