A coroner has criticised the Royal Navy for "a culture of cutting corners" regarding health and safety on its warships at the conclusion of an inquest into the death of an officer who fell 40ft to his death from a suspended landing craft.
Lieutenant Joshua Woodhouse was serving as an engineering officer on board the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean which was visiting the Mayport naval station in Jacksonville, Florida, USA, on August 6 2010. The 25-year-old, from Portsmouth, Hampshire, died in hospital four days later from a severe head injury suffered in the fall.
The Portsmouth inquest heard that Lt Woodhouse had gone on to the landing craft vessel personnel without a safety harness as it was suspended in its bay at the side of the warship, the second largest in the Navy. He then fell from the craft, landing on another LCVP which was moored in the water together with another craft next to HMS Ocean.
The jury returned a narrative verdict at the end of the two-week inquest in which they suggested a lax health and safety culture and a "can-do" nature had contributed to Lt Woodhouse's death. They also stated that he should have been wearing a safety harness, which would have saved his life.
Portsmouth Coroner David Horsley said that he would be preparing a report for the MoD highlighting his and the jury's concerns. He said that despite efforts by the Navy to reinforce health and safety regulations, not enough had been done.