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

Nine Dyfed-Powys Police officers assaulted in one weekend

Published

on

NINE Dyfed-Powys Police officers were assaulted in five incidents over the weekend, including a Special Constable who was bitten while on her probation period.

Officers across the force were punched, kicked, bitten and spat at as they responded to domestic assaults, harassment, a disturbance and a missing person.

The offences were alleged to have been committed by women aged between 14 and 61, all of whom were arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker.

Chief Constable Mark Collins said: “Policing, by its very nature, is a challenging occupation, and officers do expect to be put in difficult situations. However, it is completely unacceptable that they should be subject to assaults while they are carrying out their duties – particularly when they are assaulted by the very people they are trying to help.

“Nine officers being assaulted as they respond to five incidents is shocking – and this doesn’t include the verbal abuse and near misses they face daily.

“We take these matters very seriously. For every officer who is assaulted, a plan is put in place to support them, whether they are able to remain on duty or not.

“Our view is that assaults on police officers and staff should be investigated with the same care, compassion and commitment as an assault on a member of the public. This sounds obvious, but too often our response to assaults on officers and staff can be rushed or treated as secondary to other offences.”

Charges have been brought against two of the alleged offenders.

Chantelle Thomas, aged 18, of Water Street in Carmarthen, was charged with two counts of assaulting an emergency worker by kicking and biting them. Police had been called to a disturbance at Maes yr Ysgol at around 9.40pm on Saturday, where the defendant was found to be distressed. Officers attempted to calm her down, but she is alleged to have become irate, kicking out at one Special Constable and biting another.

One of the SCs, who is still in their probation period has been praised by their sergeant for their patience and composure during the incident.

Rhian Jeremiah, aged 32, of Adpar, Newcastle Emlyn, was also charged with two counts of assaulting an emergency worker following an incident on Saturday. She is reported to have bitten two PCs while they attempted to arrest her. She is due to appeal at Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court on March 4.

In other incidents, a PC was kicked while attending a report of a mother assaulting her daughter in Pembroke Dock, and others were assaulted while at a domestic disturbance.

An officer and a sergeant were also kicked, punched and spat at after finding a teenager who had been reported missing.

Continue Reading

News

Stepaside: Residents group seeks to stop building of 80 houses

Published

on

A PLANNING application is causing controversy in south Pembrokeshire.

Stepaside and Pleasant Valley Residents Group have said that they are against 80 “houses” proposed on flood plain over the historical mine workings

The people living around Pleasant Valley have come together to keep their valley ‘pleasant’ and not developed by a remotely owned company just for profit.

The residents group was formed last year by local residents to oppose this planning application for the Heritage Park in Pleasant Valley, Stepaside.

Their Objection, submitted in October 2019 has raised awareness locally and the level of resistance has continued to grow with more and more people joining the mailing list and Facebook group.

The planning application, doubling the size of the Heritage Park in Pleasant Valley may be given the go ahead as early as the Planning Committee on 10th March.

The project proposes to cover the whole area at the top of the valley with a significant development on land riddled with unmapped old coal mines and over a floodplain.

It includes around 80 accommodation units, some of which will, from historic experience in this kind of development, be used as permanent residences, and will surround, and discourage access to, an important CADW heritage industrial site with walks, trees and wildlife, the campaign group have said.

They told this newspaper: “The car parking and access to walks and woodland, that have been enjoyed by large numbers of local people and visitors for many years, will be restricted.

“It will increase light and noise pollution, which along with human activities will significantly repress wildlife such as rare bats, dormice, a wide range of shy birds – woodpeckers, owls, herons, dippers, treecreepers, etc. and proposes to remove trees at the very time we understand the importance of re-wilding our countryside and retaining mature trees.

The pressure group says that the proposal goes against the PCC recently published aim to encourage tourism development ‘while balancing this with the need to protect and celebrate the very features that make Pembrokeshire an attractive visitor destination.’

Ben Morris said: “Our objections are to protect this small community from over development and maintain the long held, access for local people and visitors to this heritage and wildlife area`. He added ‘If there is demand for more self-catering spaces there are many less sensitive sites where such developments could take places.

“The scheme is opposed by Friends of the Earth, Woodland Trust, other environment groups and a high proportion of local residents and visitors.

“Local residents wanting more information, or to join SPVRG should go to http://spvrg.wales”

The Herald has contacted the developer’s agent for a comment to the objections.

Continue Reading

News

Met Office: More rain and flooding warnings for Wales

Published

on

ALTHOUGH the severe weather associated with Storm Dennis has passed, there is further wet and windy weather to come this week.

With much of the ground around the UK saturated from heavy rain over the last two weeks, further severe weather warnings are in force for some of the worst hit areas. Yellow National Severe Weather warnings for rain have been issued for southern and north west Wales on Wednesday evening and through Thursday.

Chief Meteorologist Andy Page said: “Further rain will arrive on Wednesday evening and this is likely to become prolonged and possibly heavy over areas of high ground. For example, there is a chance that 60mm of rain could fall in parts of south Wales over 24 hours. With the ground already saturated there is a chance of further flooding, members of the public should check their flood risk and stay up to date with flood warnings from Natural Resources Wales, SEPA, NI Direct and the Environment Agency.”

Blustery showers will continue through the day on Monday and Tuesday, particularly in the west, these showers are likely to fall as snow over higher ground especially in Scotland over 200m in elevation. Although there will be sunny spells for many, thunder and hail could accompany the heavier showers.

Under clear skies on Tuesday night pockets of frost are likely as more settled conditions associated with a brief ridge of higher pressure pass through.

Rain and increasingly strong winds will move in from the west on Wednesday morning spreading across the whole of the UK through the day. Rain will be persistent and heavy at times in Wales and north western England overnight and a further front will move through on Thursday bringing heavy downpours.

Storm Dennis brought wet and windy conditions after what was an unsettled week, with Storm Ciara bringing stormy conditions the weekend before. South Wales saw the most rain from Storm Dennis, with 157.6mm recorded at a Natural Resources Wales site in Crai Resr, Powys, between midnight on Saturday morning to 10:00 this morning (17 February). The highest wind speed recorded during the storm was 91mph on Saturday evening at Aberdaron, Gwynedd.

Continue Reading
News1 day ago

Nine Dyfed-Powys Police officers assaulted in one weekend

NINE Dyfed-Powys Police officers were assaulted in five incidents over the weekend, including a Special Constable who was bitten while...

News1 day ago

Stepaside: Residents group seeks to stop building of 80 houses

A PLANNING application is causing controversy in south Pembrokeshire. Stepaside and Pleasant Valley Residents Group have said that they are...

News2 days ago

Met Office: More rain and flooding warnings for Wales

ALTHOUGH the severe weather associated with Storm Dennis has passed, there is further wet and windy weather to come this...

News3 days ago

Public should ‘be alert’ as flood water causes disruption across Wales

NATURAL RESOURCES WALES is warning people to be alert as flood water causes disruption across Wales. Coastal areas in west...

News6 days ago

Farmer Sean Burns has been given a 20 weeks custodial sentence

THE FARMER behind the ‘farm of horrors’, Bramble Hall Farm, in Pembroke has been sent to prison following a sentencing...

News6 days ago

Rear windscreen smashed, Haverfordwest

DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating after a car window was smashed in Haverfordwest. The red Volkswagen Golf was parked in Castle...

News6 days ago

Cabinet recommends 5% Council Tax rise

AT ITS meeting on Monday this week, the Council’s Cabinet decided to recommend a Council Tax rise of 5% for...

News6 days ago

A new future for tourism in Pembrokeshire revealed

OVER the last 12 months the Destination Pembrokeshire Partnership (DPP) – comprising Pembrokeshire Tourism, Pembrokeshire County Council, PLANED and the...

Community1 week ago

Trecadwgan farm to be sold by auction

PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has decided to sell Trecadwgan Farm by way of public auction. The Council’s decision has been made...

News1 week ago

Robbery in Narberth – witnesses sought

POLICE are appealing for witnesses to a robbery which took place in Narberth on Wednesday, February 5. A 17-year-old reported...

Popular This Week