Tragedy clouds 150th anniversary celebrations

A sea cadet has died after plummeting 30ft into the sea from the rigging of a brig, marring the organistation’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

Jonathan Martin, 14, was helping to stow the sails aboard TS Royalist (pictured), when he fell and attempts by cadet leaders to resusciate him failed.

He was taken by Solent Coastguard helicopter to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, but pronounced dead on arrival.

TS Royalist was anchored in Stokes Bay, off Gosport, as part of the two-day celebration at Gunwharf Quays and Jonathan, from Ashford, Kent, was among 19 teen cadets and 10 staff aboard the training ship.

The tragedy occured at 8.30pm on Sunday, as the celebrations came to an end.

Sea Cadets chief executive Mike Cornish said: “The Royalist had anchored, the cadets went aloft to furl and reef
the sails and unfortunately the cadet fell while aloft.

“He was rapidly retrieved by our own RIB and the crew of Royalist.

“There was clearly major concern over his condition and the captain of Royalist called a Mayday.

“We are devastated and our thoughts are with the parents of the cadet who sadly lost his life. It’s a very sad day.”

The death is the first in the history of TS Royalist since its 1971 launch and, although the cadets wear safety harnesses while climbing the rigging, they do not wear lifejackets to avoid getting tangled.

It is though Jonathan may have banged his head on the way down.