Monday, September 3, 2018

Merchant Navy Medal Winners Announced as RoRo Ferry Officer Gets Top Bravery Award

Nineteen Named for Services to the Maritime Industry
Shipping News Feature
UK – There really can be no higher honour for a merchant sailor than an award for bravery and, with the release of this year's list of the nineteen people receiving the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service for going above and beyond in their service to the maritime industry, topping the list is the man in our photograph, Stephen Chamberlain, a deck officer with Wightlink, the RoRo ferry company which services the Isle of Wight from the mainland.

On February 3rd this year Chamberlain put his own life at considerable risk to help a man struggling in the cold water in Portsmouth Harbour at 11pm. The crew on the St Clare ferry spotted the man in danger and Mr Chamberlain saw he was not able to reach the flotation device. The officer jumped in and kept the man, who was suffering from hypothermia, from drowning.

Chamberlain lives in Portsmouth and has 20 years’ service with Wightlink and five years with the Royal Navy. He was taken to hospital and released in the early hours of the next morning. He commented at the time:

“I just acted instinctively when we saw the man wasn’t able to get into the life ring. We carry out emergency drills all the time but it’s different when it’s happening for real. Getting the man to safety was team work and I’m grateful to my fellow crew members for their support.”

This is the third year the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service has been awarded to those who have set an outstanding example to others, and other winners of this year’s awards included Captain Belinda Bennett, the first black female captain in the commercial cruise industry, whose maiden voyage was a cruise to the Caribbean aboard a 148-passenger Windstar ship. Announcing the Awards Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani said:

“Our merchant navy is crucial to keeping the UK thriving, helping deliver goods, energy and food to our homes. These nineteen people are a credit not just to the maritime industry but to the wider nation. They have gone above and beyond their duty for the benefit of others.”

Among the other winners this year are Captain Timothy Charlesworth who, on top of his service, provides sailing opportunities for people with mental health and addiction problems, Captain Michael Reeves who has five decades of merchant navy experience, much of which has been spent promoting seafaring to young people, and Captain Antonio Gatti who has played a crucial role in scientific research on board a Royal Research Ship during his 33 years of service.

Nominations have been put forward for those working in the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. This State Award replaces the shipping industry’s previous Merchant Navy Medal which was awarded annually from 2005 to 2015 by the Merchant Navy Medal Fund. The medals will be awarded by Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, at a ceremony in Trinity House on Wednesday, September 26.

The full alphabetical list of winners to receive the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service is as follows:

  • Captain Belinda Bennett, for services to the promotion of the maritime sector (Southampton)
  • Mr Derek Cardno, for services to the welfare of fishermen (Aberdeen)
  • Lieutenant Commander David Carter, for services to the careers of young seafarers and seafarer welfare (Skipton)
  • Mr Stephen Chamberlain, for an act of bravery in saving a life (Portsmouth)
  • Captain Timothy Charlesworth, for services to UK ports and the maritime industry (Plymouth)
  • Mr Mark Dickinson, for services to seafarer employment, training and welfare (London)
  • Captain Antonio Gatti, for services to UK research expeditions
  • Mr John Halsall, for services to the careers of young seafarers
  • Captain Nigel Jardine, for services to UK ports and the maritime industry including the small port sector (Chichester)
  • Captain Robin Lock, for services to a maritime charity (Havant)
  • Mr George Lonie, for services to the careers of young seafarers and seafarer welfare (Isle of Lewis)
  • Mr Michael Morley, for services to a maritime charity (Lyndhurst)
  • Captain Nicholas Nash, for services to maritime training (Penzance)
  • Captain John Rankin, for services to the Merchant Navy (Torpoint)
  • Captain Michael Reeves, for services to the careers of young seafarers and seafarer welfare (Pontypool)
  • Captain Andrew Schofield, for services to the large yacht industry
  • Captain Ian Shields, for services to a maritime charity (Portsmouth)
  • Mr Keith Thompson, for services to a maritime charity (Hull)
  • Mr Thomas Woolley, for services to harbour towage and safety standards (Angus)
Photo: Stephen Chamberlain and (inset) the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service.