Australien – Defence personnel commended following SIEV 36 rescue

The Australian Defence Force has presented commendations to Darwin-based Service men and women who helped rescue, treat and evacuate those injured from the explosion onboard Suspected Irregular Entry Vessel (SIEV) 36 on 16 April, 2009.

Commander Border Protection Command, Rear Admiral Tim Barrett, RAN presented Commendations to approximately 20 ADF personnel who are current or former members of the Darwin-based Armidale Class Patrol Boat crew Assail Two, or who were serving with Transit Security Element 52 or with the Cairns-based crew Ardent Four at the time of the SIEV 36 incident.

The commendations were awarded for the outstanding service, courage, drive, dedication and compassion shown by those involved in the rescue, treatment and evacuation of people following the explosion.

ADF Gold (Chief of Joint Operations) Group Commendations have been awarded to all 51 personnel from Navy, Army and Air Force who were embarked in HMA Ships Childers and Albany on 16 April, 2009, as part of the crews of Ardent Four and Assail Two. Approximately 20 of these ADF members are Darwin-based.

At today’s ceremony, Chief of the Defence Force Commendations were also awarded to Lieutenant Commander Barry Learoyd (Commanding Officer Assail Two), and Air Force Corporal Sharon Jager. An ADF Silver (Deputy Chief of Joint Operations) Commendation was presented to Petty Officer Cheryl McCabe and an ADF Bronze (Deputy Chief of Joint Operations) Commendation was awarded to Petty Officer Rachele Karmiste.

Lieutenant Commander Learoyd said he is honoured to be formally recognised and extremely proud of what his crew and the members serving with Ardent Four did in the face of extreme adversity.

“What both crews did that day embodied the Navy values of loyalty, honesty, integrity and courage as well as the Australian values of helping a mate or anybody in need.

“When the vessel blew up I declared ‘Mass SOLAS’ (Save Our Life At Sea). That was the last order I gave. Everyone just swung into action and went to work and they didn’t stop until we reached Darwin the following day.

“The compassion of our people in dealing with things that no person should ever have to endure was truly remarkable.”

Although five Afghan men drowned, every other person who was pulled alive from the water after the explosion is living today, despite some suffering life threatening burns.

Events following the explosion were coordinated by Headquarters Northern Command staff in Darwin who provided support during the rescue and evacuation of the critically injured and seriously ill. The Augmented Operations Branch provided support to the rescue and evacuation operation that was highly complex.

Press release
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, Australia