Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Samuel Hatton shooting death: 'Better navy security needed'

HMS Cattistock
Samuel Hatton died on board HMS Cattistock

A coroner has called on the Royal Navy to improve weapons security on board warships following the death of a sailor.

Engineering technician Samuel Hatton, 20, killed himself with a rifle on HMS Cattistock in Portsmouth.

Coroner David Horsley recorded a narrative verdict, but admitted fearing a similar situation in the future.

The Royal Navy has reviewed and enhanced its safety procedures following his death in September 2010.

ET Hatton, from Southampton, used an SA80 service rifle to take his own life after entering a gun store on board the minehunter without supervision. He had permission to access the store, but not the right to handle a weapon.

Defective rifle rack

A safety rack holding the rifles had been broken for at least six months and had not been repaired, enabling ET Hatton to easily remove the weapon and use it to shoot himself.

Only two days earlier, he had been allowed to enter the gun store unaccompanied to carry out a temperature check.

The two-day inquest heard he had been teased by fellow officers about a friend, Matthew Webster, who had also shot himself on board HMS Hurworth in February that year.

Mr Horsley said he would write to the Royal Navy asking it to design and fit a more secure storage system on all of its warships.

He said: "I am worried about a similar situation arising in the future."

'Swift action'

Mr Horsley also called on the Royal Navy to change its administration procedures to enable warship captains to have access to complete files of prospective crew members, ensuring their suitability for posts.

Responding to the verdict, a Royal Navy spokesperson said: "Our thoughts remain with the family of ET Hatton at this difficult time.

"The defective rifle rack on board HMS Cattistock has been repaired.

"We also took swift action to re-brief all surface ships and submarines on the importance of correctly controlling access to small arms and ammunition.

"The guidance used to identify those who are unsuitable to serve on board small ships has also been reviewed and enhanced.

"We note the coroner's helpful comments and will respond in full once we have received his letter and consider what further action might need to be taken."

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