Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

Inquest concludes a tank barrel flaw was responsible for deaths

Published

on

A CORONER has reached the conclusion that a fatal explosion in a British Army tank was the result of a design flaw in the gun barrel, allowing highly unstable gases to escape into a tank crew’s turret.

The incident at Castlemartin Range on June 14, 2017, resulted in the deaths of Royal Tank Regiment corporals Matthew Hatfield, 27, and Darren Neilson, 31.

Two others were injured in the blast involving a Challenger 2 tank.

Louise Hunt, the Senior Coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, said the ‘main cause’ was that the gun could still be fired even when a key component, the bolt vent axial (BVA), which prevents 3,000C explosive gases from entering the crew turret, was missing.

She said: “The main cause of this incident was the tank being able to fire without the BVA assembly being present.
“During production and manufacture of the gun, this hazard was not adequately considered or investigated and therefore the ability of the gun to fire without the BVA present … went undetected.”

Ms Hunt went on to add that there were ‘other issues which contributed to the incident’, citing a lack of written procedures regarding equipment drills and communication, specifically the handing over of vehicles to new crews and the handling of the BVA.

These conclusions were reached following a lengthy inquest detailing the events.

It had previously been heard how the air-tight BVA was not in place at the time of the fatal blast. The inquest also found that there had not been a set procedure to check for said equipment, as well as an unknown flaw in the system which allowed the gun to fire without the BVA in place. Four high explosive ammunition bags, referred to as ‘bag charges’, which are used to propel the shell when firing, were found to be ‘incorrectly stowed’.

The Coroner concluded: “Failure to correctly stow charges caused a secondary explosion following failure of the breech block due to the absence of the BVA assembly, and the practice of un-stowed charges was routine.”

Ms Hunt heard several soldiers provide evidence that charges were sometimes stored outside of the heat-proof storage bins within the turret, notably referring to storage ‘on a soldier’s lap’.

Tank Commander that day was Cpl Darren Neilson, a father-of-one from Preston, Lancashire. He was thrown from the turret during the blast, while Cpl Hatfield, also a father, from Amesbury, Wiltshire, was loading ammunition. Both were evacuated from the scene of the blast, but died later of the injuries sustained.

The other two passengers, Warrant Officer Stuart Lawson and Trooper Michael Warren, were injured but survived.

Cpls Neilson and Hatfield were both highly-trained gunnery instructors that had served with the Royal Tank Regiment in Tidworth, Wiltshire, as well as seeing active combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. They had taken WO Lawson for a ‘guest shoot’, as he had asked permission to go out and fire a tank.

Yet the inquest heard, that according to Army rules, the Royal Tank Regiment Commanding Officer Lt Col Simon Ridgway was supposed to have written authorisation from a more senior officer for the guest shoot, but he told the coroner that he ‘had not appreciated that at the time’.

Lt Col Ridgway also ‘failed’ to recognise a culture incorrectly storing high explosive charges in the tank turrets. When asked if the incident represented a failure of his leadership during his evidence, Lt Col Ridgway, a veteran of Iraq, said: “I think I failed to identify it was happening. I’m not sure it’s a failure of leadership.

“I have to admit I sort of felt physically sick when I heard people were stowing them out of the bins.

“If for one moment I suspected they were storing them incorrectly, I would have been furious.”

The inquest went on to hear that Lt Col Ridgway didn’t know that the ‘guest shoot’ was happening that day, and so had not passed down his order for WO Lawson to ‘sit on his hands’, and make sure to leave firing to the tank commander.

The inquest found that a basic whiteboard was used to assign crews and tank activities, but it was not routinely updated. The Army said that drill sand training procedure has been updated since the blast.

A report containing three recommendations has been sent out to the Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems, which had designed and constructed the main battle tank of the Army, with the aim of preventing further accidents.

News

Amroth: RNLI rescue three people swept out to sea

Published

on

THE RNLI rescued three people after they were washed off rocks by huge waves at Telpyn Point near Amroth.

At 5pm on Sunday (Dec 9) as the lifeboat crew’s children’s Christmas Party was ending, both of Tenby’s RNLI lifeboats were requested to launch after a report that three women were cut off by the incoming tide somewhere between Marros and Amroth.

The casualties had been forced to cut their call to the Coastguard short as their mobile phone battery was about to run out, so the Coastguard didn’t have an exact position for them.

The lifeboats were quickly on the water and the volunteer crew made best speed to towards Amroth to begin their search in pitch black conditions and with a large swell running into the rocks.

Despite the low battery, once the casualties spotted the lifeboat in the distance, they turned on their phone’s screen and began waving the phone towards the lifeboat. The volunteer crew on the inshore lifeboat immediately spotted the light and headed for it, closely followed by the all-weather lifeboat.

Once on scene, it was apparent to the lifeboat crew that this would be a difficult rescue due to the heavy swell crashing on the rocks, just feet from where the casualties were precariously perched, so Tenby and St Govans Coastguard Rescue teams were paged in case a rope rescue was required.

With the numerous underwater rocks making it impossible for the all-weather lifeboat to get anywhere near, the bigger vessel illuminated the rocks with floodlights, whilst the inshore lifeboat prepared their anchor to veer down into the rocks through the swell in an attempt to reach the casualties.

As the crew made attempts to get close enough to shore in very tricky conditions, a large wave hit the rocks, washing one of the casualties into the sea. As the casualty struggled in the heavy swell, the helmsman managed to get the lifeboat alongside her and the crew pulled her to safety.

She was rushed to the all-weather lifeboat where the crew were waiting to assess and treat her. On their return to check on the remaining two casualties, the inshore lifeboat crew could only watch as another wave hit the rocks and washed them into the surf. Again, the helmsman managed to get inside the surf line and the crew plucked them to safety, before dropping them aboard the all-weather lifeboat.

With everyone accounted for, the boats returned to the station, where the casualties were further assessed and were delighted to be able to take warm showers. Despite the ferocity of the surf that washed them off the rocks, the women were lucky to escape with only a few minor grazes.

Once they were warmed up enough and had had a warm drink, they thanked the crew and then made their way home.

Continue Reading

News

Interviews to take place this week for £91k council job

Published

on

INTERVIEWS are to be held this week for a controversial senior role within Pembrokeshire County Council, with an advertised salary of up to £91,000.

On Wednesday (Dec 12), interviews will be held for the Head of Economic Development and Regeneration post, which has a salary bracket of £53,982 – £91,443.

In addition, the job was advertised with £5,259 subsidy for a leased car and a ‘generous pension scheme’.

Relocation assistance was also being offered for applicants outside of Pembrokeshire.

In July, at a meeting of Full Council, the new job post was approved, with most agreeing that the post should be advertised in order to ensure improvements and large investments are made around the county. The former head of regeneration recently retired.
Despite initial concern at the meeting, the only councillor strongly against the new role was Cllr Reg Owens, saying: “I really can’t see any justification in filling this post, I’ll say that from the start.

“Over the past year quite rightly we have been lectured… about the need to be far more prudent in our expenditure. When we approved the budget last year, and we approved the 12.5% [council tax] I did say at the time we are asking the people of Pembrokeshire to contribute towards Pembrokeshire County Council and we have also got to be seen to be doing our bit as well.

“When I look at the job description…we have certainly got those skills with our current chief officers and heads of services and of course the cabinet members, so I don’t think we will be cast adrift by not making this appointment, in fact, if we don’t make this appointment, we will be showing everybody that we do mean business trying to save some money.”

Despite this, Cllr Owens was ultimately persuaded by justifications of others.

Cllr Michael Williams of Plaid Cymru argued: “If you want justification just go and walk through our towns. I mean the whole economic base that used to be in these towns is now almost dead.

“To do nothing is not an option. We have got to show some ambition for the benefit of this county, otherwise the whole place is going to fail.

“I think this is an opportunity, I think we’ve failed in the past because we haven’t resourced in any way adequately enough this unit. And we have got to get that right.”

The proposition by Cllr Williams, seconded by Cllr Miller, detailed how the Senior Staff Committee recommend to the Council that the role of Head of Economic Development and Regeneration be advertised.

Continue Reading

News

Milford Haven: Defibrillator donated to town

Published

on

ON SUNDAY (De 9) a defibrillator was presented to the town of Milford Haven by The 3 Amigos & Dollies motorcycle group.

After the death earlier in the year of fellow 3 Amigo Little Bri (Brian Craig), money was raised at his funeral by the Amigos to make the donation possible.

The defibrillator is now dedicated to Little Bri, with a brass plaque hung on the wall in his honour. Brian’s widow, Kath, his friends, and the Amigos all attended the presentation.

The defibrillator can be found on the wall by Tom Neewing & Son funeral directors.

Continue Reading
News8 hours ago

Amroth: RNLI rescue three people swept out to sea

THE RNLI rescued three people after they were washed off rocks by huge waves at Telpyn Point near Amroth. At...

News9 hours ago

Interviews to take place this week for £91k council job

INTERVIEWS are to be held this week for a controversial senior role within Pembrokeshire County Council, with an advertised salary...

News12 hours ago

Police investigating burglary find two drug dealers

POLICE investigating reports of a burglary found two drug dealers instead. Reece Ford, 19, was visiting his friend and fellow...

News12 hours ago

Fishguard: Police catch drug dealer who boasted about selling cannabis

A CANNABIS dealer from Fishguard became so brazen he boasted in social media ‘I buy and sell weed ha ha...

News4 days ago

Stephen Crabb MP speaks out in 40 hour Brexit debate

PRESELI MP Stephen Crabb has spoken out against a so-called ‘No Deal Brexit’ which would see Britain leave the EU...

News4 days ago

Police searching for two missing teenage boys

Dyfed-Powys Police is concerned about 15-year-old Shane and 14-year-old Ewan who are missing from Pembrokeshire. Shane is described as white,...

News4 days ago

Have you seen this missing 14-year-old boy from Haverfordwest?

DYFED-POWYS POLICE is concerned for the welfare of 14-year-old Ewan who is missing from Haverfordwest. Ewan is described as white...

News5 days ago

Dashcam footage: Lorry on wrong side of road nearly hits car

A NEAR MISS with a lorry which was driving on the wrong side of the road left a local motorist...

News5 days ago

Heavy rain leads to flooding, yellow warning issued [UPDATED]

A YELLOW weather warning is in place over Pembrokeshire today (Dec 5) as heavy rainfall is causing flooding around the...

News6 days ago

Police CCTV now operating in Milford Haven

FOUR new CCTV cameras have been installed in Milford Haven. They are located at Upper Charles Street, Lower Charles Street,...

Popular This Week