THE Southampton-born naval chief in charge of a nuclear-powered submarine which ran aground on a shingle bank has been relieved of his command.

HMS Astute was on sea trials last month when it became stuck off the coast of Skye and ended up marooned for several hours.

Navy officials confirmed that Andy Coles, 47, lost his command of the submarine yesterday.

He will remain with the Royal Navy and is to be given another post.

A final decision has still to be made about whether Commander Coles, who now lives in Devon, will face a court martial over the incident.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: "From yesterday, November 26, he was removed from command of HMS Astute.

"He's going to continue with the Royal Navy. He will be reappointed to another post.

"It's an internal administrative matter between Commander Coles and his senior officers."

The spokesman said it was not known what the new post would be.

He added that a new commanding officer of HMS Astute would be appointed in the near future.

The vessel ran aground on the west coast of Scotland on October 22. It was freed by the evening when the tide began to rise.

However, it is understood HMS Astute was damaged after a collision with the coastguard tug the Anglian Prince, which was sent to free it.

The submarine returned to its base at Faslane on the Clyde three days after the incident.

The Navy spokesman said repairs to the vessel have now been completed, but the final cost of the work is still being calculated. Unconfirmed reports have suggested the repair bill could run into millions.

He added a service inquiry into the incident had concluded and its findings were being considered.

The 7,800-tonne boat is a brand new Astute class hunter killer sub designed to be invisible to enemies and billed as the next generation of submarines.

Last month the Daily Echo revealed that sister vessel HMS Artful, which is yet to be built, will be adopted by the city of Southampton.