Training mishap led to soldiers ‘near-drowning’ – Oakey

Defence is investigating a training mishap where soldiers sunk to the bottom of a swimming pool while wearing 20-kilogram weighted vests.

Key points:

  • Defence is reviewing a reported near-drowning incident at an army training base
  • Several soldiers sunk to the bottom of a pool while training in weighted gear
  • One soldier was taken to hospital and another had to be rescued

The ABC has confirmed that one of the participants was taken to hospital as a precaution, while army sources say another also had to be rescued from the water.

Witnesses say both soldiers came close to drowning during last week’s incident, and a lifesaver assigned to the activity had been unable to reach the bottom of the pool.

A further three members of the Australian Army’s Aviation Training Centre at Oakey in southern Queensland managed to remove their weighted vests during the activity and did not require assistance.

The Department of Defence told the ABC it was “aware of an incident at the Army Aviation Training Centre swimming pool on 22 October 2021”.

“A soldier was taken to hospital as a precaution but was later released uninjured and without requiring treatment,” a Defence spokesperson said.

The department added that the matter was “currently being reviewed” and Comcare had been notified so it was not appropriate to comment on it further.

“Defence is committed to ensuring the safety of all Australian Defence Force personnel during training activities,” the spokesperson said.

“Defence policy requires all physical training activities to be conducted in accordance with a defined lesson plan and associated risk assessment with mitigating factors to lessen any identified risk.”

A senior Defence source told the ABC while last week’s training mishap was unusual it was also not considered serious, and all safety protocols appeared to have been followed.

However other military sources told the ABC there remained fears within Defence about the long-term consequences of the mishap.

“The unit has gone into panic control after it was pointed out individuals could personally sue,” one source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to comment publicly.


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