HMS Kent arrivied back home into Portsmouth, the last warship home from CSG21 10122021 CREDIT MOD.jpg
Sailor Daniel Harrison served as a leading engineering technician onboard HMS Kent (Picture: MOD).

Emotional account of sailor's death told in episode of The Warship TV series

HMS Kent arrivied back home into Portsmouth, the last warship home from CSG21 10122021 CREDIT MOD.jpg
Sailor Daniel Harrison served as a leading engineering technician onboard HMS Kent (Picture: MOD).

An emotional account of a sailor's death has been told in BBC's: The Warship TV series.

Royal Navy Leading Engineering Technician Daniel Harrison died onboard HMS Kent on 10 July.

The Type 23 frigate had been travelling to the Far East as part of the Carrier Strike Group deployment with the Royal Navy flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, when the tragedy was announced to the ship's company.

BBC's Warship series is telling the "moving story of navy life on board HMS Queen Elizabeth's maiden voyage".

In the latest episode, HMS Queen Elizabeth's then-Captain Angus Essenhigh informs the ship's crew of having to send a medical team to HMS Kent and the news of the tragic death of the sailor.

Capt Essenhigh, filmed for the documentary speaking over the tannoy to the crew says: "Good morning, Queen Elizabeth. It's the captain speaking. And I have an announcement for you all.

"We were required overnight to send a Royal Two medical team over to HMS Kent to assist with an emerging casualty situation.

"Now, the news related to this will eventually filter out, so I thought it'd be apposite for me to talk to you about it.

"This casualty was an apparent suicide attempt. 

"The individual concerned was brought across to Queen Elizabeth for urgent assistance, but despite the very best efforts of all the medical team here, they were unable to save this young man's life."

He added: "This is obviously a huge tragedy, it's a tragedy for this young man, it's a tragedy for his family and his friends, it's a tragedy for his ship and for the wider strike group, and it's a tragedy for the Royal Navy."

Later, the show followed the Captain into a Command brief, in which he instructed his management team to "get out there and make sure that our people are all OK."

He added: "You don't know who's going to get triggered by this very sad news based on, you know, personal histories, background, how people are feeling right now.

"So you've got to get out there and talk to your people and make sure they are ok".

With the Covid pandemic forcing hundreds of the crew into isolation, Capt Essenhigh added that "while we've got 385 people in isolation, it's vital that we look after our people, and it's something like this, as awful as it is, that should inspire us and commit us to making sure we look after our people that little bit more, that little bit more special so that we don't have any of these things happens again to us on this trip."

"Do it with as much respect, dignity and honour as we possibly can"

A voiceover for the BBC programme said that HMS Kent came in close to mark the ceremonial repatriation from the HMS Queen Elizabeth of the leading engineering technician Daniel Harrison.

The show then follows the preparations for the arrival of the sailor on to HMS Queen Elizabeth before departing home, while sailors were readied to meet the coffin at attention before it would receive its lift.

A bearer party of sailors on The Warship BBC series discussed how they would transport the sailor, stressing that they must be careful with their footing on a ramp they would use, to make sure that they "do it with as much respect, dignity and honour as we possibly can to get that young man into the aircraft."

Sailors remembered him and paid tribute to the sailor.

"We're all on this deployment together and we'd expect - we'd want them to come home. I'm just gutted. Just awful and everyone's gutted," One sailor said.

"Sometimes people aren't actually as content as they seem"

Sub Lieutenant John Hawk told the BBC programme: "This repatriation, I think, the most important thing is that it's dignified and gives everyone a chance to take stock.

"And, hopefully, that sort of emotional significance of it will help with reminding everyone that sometimes people aren't actually as content as they seem."

Hawk added: "I think that's one of the difficult things about the nature of his death - is that it, one can think it was in vain. But we can't let it be in vain. That's the way I see it."

A commentator on Twitter who said they were a friend of Sailor Harrison posted that the episode was "incredibly painful" to watch.

He added: "Tonight's episode of Warship was incredibly painful. To see a friend's suicide documented and re-live it was very, very hard.

"For you that didn't have the pleasure of knowing Dan, he was incredible. A guardian Angel for us all."

Ben Wilson, a Royal Navy warfare specialist, last year set up a Go Fund Me page to raise funds for the Samaritans in the name of his former shipmate.

He said on the fundraiser page: "The main focus of this fundraiser is to raise awareness of mental health in everyone rather it be young, old or even those you'd never expect to struggle.

"It's crucial we all look out for one another, especially in this day and age."

If you or someone you know needs support at this time, you can find more information here.

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