THE Ministry of Defence has admitted safety breaches over the death of a solider from Broadway.

In March 2018, Lance Corporal George Partridge’s death occurred as he carried out drills on an Army Diver Course at the National Dive Activity Centre in Chepstow, Gloucestershire.

The soldier, of 26 Engineer Regiment, was brought back to surface at the National Diving and Activity Centre after he stopped responding to lifeline signals underwater. The 27-year-old was pronounced dead after CPR at the scene.

Health and safety inspector Julian Tuvey, who specialises in diving, said: “This was a tragedy for all concerned however just like any other employer, the MoD has a responsibility to reduce dangers to its personnel, as far as they properly can.

“The scenario of a diver running out of air is a very real risk that needs to managed.”

Two Crown Improvement Notices have been issued to the MoD by the watchdog.

The MOD said its “thoughts and sympathies” remain with L/Cpl Partridge’s family and friends.

“The scenario of a diver running out of air is a very real risk that needs to managed,” Mr Tuvey said.

He and his “dive buddy” were tasked with attaching a line to the underwater wreck of a helicopter at a depth of 89ft (27m). When he was recovered his air cylinders were found to be empty.

The two improvement notices relate to the failure to train all army divers how to undertake air endurance calculations and to assess the risk of a diver running out of air.

The MoD admitted breaching its duty on September 2 when the the Health and Safety Executive issued the department with a Crown Censure - the maximum sanction for a government body.

A MOD spokesperson said: “The Ministry of Defence and Royal Navy take the safety of our personnel extremely seriously and co-operated fully with the civilian police and Health and Safety Executive investigations to fully understand the circumstances of this tragedy, which we will learn fully from.”

The MoD cannot face prosecution in the same way as non-Government bodies and a Crown Censure is the maximum sanction for a government body that HSE can bring.

There is no financial penalty associated with Crown Censure, but once accepted is an official record of a failing to meet the standards set out in law.