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