Fall from yard on fore mast on sail training ship TS Royalist with loss of 1 life

Location: Stokes Bay, near Gosport, England.

Accident Investigation Report 2/2011

Read our marine accident investigation report, which includes what happened, actions taken, and recommendations:

RoyalistReport.pdf (1,124.82 kb)



On Sunday 2 May 2010, a 14 year old sea cadet fell from a yard on the fore mast of the sail training ship TS Royalist when the vessel was at anchor. The sea cadet was assisting other cadets to stow the fore course sail when he fell backwards and struck the starboard gunwale 8m below, before falling into the sea. He was quickly recovered from the water by the vessel’s sea boat and transferred to a coastguard helicopter which flew him to hospital. Sadly, the cadet died as a result of the severe injuries he had sustained.

Safety Issues

  • sail training is an extremely specialist activity, but the under-utilisation of health and safety advisors from the oversight and audit of the MSSC’s offshore activities was detrimental to the safety management of TS Royalist
  • the ineffectiveness of the supervision of cadets on this occasion, and the unsuitability of the belt harnesses provided, strongly indicate that there is scope to improve the safety of cadets when aloft
  • the belt harnesses used on board were not fit for purpose. They were unsuitable for fall arrest, and were neither tested nor manufactured to comply with current standards, and no records of their inspection were maintained


Recommendations have been made to the Marine Society & Sea Cadets and the Royal Navy aimed at improving the safety of cadets by addressing the safety issues identified and, through the development of assurance procedures, to ensure that the risks to cadets participating in this challenging, but potentially dangerous activity, are reduced to and kept as low as reasonably practicable.

This report was published on 3 March 2011.

Published 23 January 2015