18 Mar 2013

Defence Force promises 'any improvements necessary'

10:13 am on 18 March 2013

The Defence Force says it will make any improvements necessary to its operations after an investigation into the drowning of a soldier during a training exercise last year.

Private Michael Ross fell from an inflatable boat into Moawhango lake near Waiouru last September. His body was found by Navy divers a week later.

The Sunday Star-Times reports an internal Defence Force investigation, which has not been made public, found several safety failures led to Private Ross' death, including a faulty lifejacket that failed to inflate.

The Defence Force said it will make any necessary improvements to its operations following the outcome of the investigation.

The Defence Force said the court of inquiry, which is nearly complete, has specifically looked at the lifejacket he was wearing, as well as other systems and processes.

Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones said the investigation has left no stone unturned in identifying the Defence Force's role in the incident.

He said the organisation will make improvements to its operations if needed.

The Military Police and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment are also investigating Private Ross' death.

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokesperson said there has also been a health and safety inquiry which is nearly complete.

But he said the ministry cannot comment on whether it will prosecute anyone until it receives the finished report.