A SENIOR Navy rating has told of the terrifying moment that a crazed gunman tried to kill him on board a submarine berthed in Southampton.

Chief Petty Officer David McCoy relived the ordeal during an inquest into the death of Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, who was shot in the head by Able Seaman Ryan Donovan on board HMS Astute.

CPO McCoy told the court how he was talking to a colleague, Petty Officer Christopher Brown, when he heard gunfire.

He told Southampton Coroner’s Court: “I just heard a bang. Straight away I went down to my knees. I never knew it was a gunshot at first, I thought it was an air valve going off above us.

“When I looked around Donovan was walking towards us and I’d seen smoke coming out of the barrel.

“He was looking at me, just walking towards me, squeezing the trigger.

“I shouted ‘go’, but there wasn’t anywhere to go.”

CPO MCoy then described how he scrambled down a ladder to the deck below before taking cover in the weapons storage department.

The weapon was issued to Donovan by PO Brown, but CPO McCoy, who was standing only four feet away and exchanged pleasantries with the junior sailor, said he had “absolutely no reason” to suggest that he was unfit for sentry duty that day.

But moments later, the sentry began firing the gun.

In his evidence PO Christopher Brown described the moment he handed the rifle to Donovan. He said: “I was stood a foot or a foot and a half away from him at all times so I know what condition he was in and he seemed absolutely fine.”

"I asked him if he was happy and he said yes and he walked off but he hadn’t signed for the weapon. I called him back and that is when the shooting started. He had moved the rifle down and was shooting from the hip. The first round that he fired went just past my nose. It was like a wasp flying past my face."

"I turned my head to look round and Donovan was stood maybe about ten paces away and the rifle was still at the hip and there was smoke coming out of the barrel. He pulled the trigger again and after that, that is when I dived for cover.”.

The inquest has heard Donovan, who was 22 at the time of the shooting in April 2011, is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of 36-year-old dad-of-four Lt Cdr Molyneux.