Royal Marines Recruit Ethan Jones cover image
Royal Marines

Royal Marines Recruit Death: 'Deviation' From Protocol A Factor In Beach Incident

The MOD published an inquiry report into the death of Recruit Ethan Jones after a training exercise on a Cornish beach last year.

Royal Marines Recruit Ethan Jones cover image

A report into the death of a Royal Marines recruit found a "deviation" from training course protocol was one of the factors behind the incident.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has published a service inquiry report into the death of Royal Marines recruit Ethan Jones on 24 January 2020 following a beach landing exercise on Tregantle Beach in Cornwall, part of the final exercise during recruit training.

Recruit Jones, of 282 Troop, Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, had been disembarking a landing craft when an accident took place at approximately 21:35 on 21 January, the report said.

The decision of staff to deviate from the course documentation and provide the training at night was found to be a contributory factor behind it, the Service Inquiry Panel concluded.

As part of Exercise Final Thrust, the vessel had arrived from HMNB Devonport, and members of 282 Troop were ordered to disembark the craft without their Assault Troop life jackets.

This decision was deemed an aggravating factor in the incident, alongside the cold water shock experienced by Recruit Jones.

According to the inquiry report, water depth increased from 77cm during the disembarkation, leaving the last eight of the 26 individuals to leave the craft in water above their heads, at more than 1.85m deep.

The vessel had moved astern into deep water, and the inquiry panel deemed this a causal factor behind the incident.

Also included as a causal factor was "the continued disembarkation of recruits into water deeper than their height", making it "extremely difficult for them to make their way safely ashore".

Three recruits were recovered from the water, including an unconscious and unresponsive Recruit Jones – the 20th recruit to leave the craft.

Tregantle Beach in Cornwall
Tregantle Beach in Cornwall.

The two other recruits had already been recovered to the craft when a daysack attached to Recruit Jones was spotted floating in the water.

First aid on board followed before the recruit was transferred to the beach and then airlifted to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, where he died three days later.

The inquiry panel declared that Recruit Jones' medical records did not indicate any reason for him not to have taken part in the exercise.

According to the inquiry report conclusions, 'Coxswain A', who was in charge of the vessel in question, "was not competent to command or helm coxswain an in-service landing craft", and therefore did not meet the criteria of a "safe person" – also a contributory factor to the incident.

Regarding deviation from course documentation, the report also stated: "The Panel opined that the instances of deviation from prescribed practices within 47 Cdo (RG) RM and 10 Trg Sqn had become normal practice.

"Within the timeframe of the inquiry, the Panel were unable to establish the full extent of the deviations.

"However, the Panel concluded that the deviations witnessed would have had an accumulative detrimental effect to safe craft operation."

Cover image: Royal Marines Recruit Ethan Jones (Picture: Royal Navy).