Commanding officer of Special Boat Service dies on exercise

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THE commanding officer of the Special Boat Service has died following a diving accident in Norway, the Ministry of Defence confirmed last night.

Lieutenant Colonel Richard van der Horst was taking part in a training exercise last week when the incident happened. He subsequently died in hospital in Norway.

According to reports, Lt Col van der Horst had been leaving a "swimmer delivery vehicle" - a mini-submarine allowing SBS troops to infiltrate enemy territory undetected - during a major amphibious exercise off Narvik. The MoD gave no further details.

According to reports, his wife was at his bedside when he died on Monday.

Lt Col van der Horst was honoured for his work with British special forces in Iraq.

Similar in status to the better-known Special Air Service, the SBS’s most famous veteran is Lord Ashdown. A spokesman said the MoD had conveyed its deepest sympathies to Lt Col van der Horst’s family.

Members of the Royal Marines are chosen to join the elite SBS only after a gruelling physical and mental selection process. The focus of their operations tends to be from the sea but they also operate inland, and served in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

The SBS was formed during the Second World War to satisfy the need for maritime special operations.