Sailors recognised for going beyond the call of duty

A warfare officer who ensured 650,000 tonnes of British shipping safely passed through the gauntlet of ‘missile alley’ in the Middle East is one of several sailors to receive the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service.

Lt Cdr Ben Martin was HMS Daring’s Principal Warfare Officer during her 2016-17 deployment to the Gulf.

The destroyer was called upon to safeguard shipping passing through the Bab el Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea following an attack on the MV Swift.

Operations lasted 50 days, throughout which the ship operated under the threat of attack by Houthi rebel-controlled coastal-defence cruise missiles and explosive boats. 

Each transit of the chokepoint was conducted at the highest degree of personnel and material readiness and Lt Cdr Martin oversaw the preparations and conduct of every one. 

Also commended is POET(MESM) Aaron Smith who assumed the responsibilities of chief stoker on an operational V-boat for 15 months, filling a role normally carried out by an experienced chief petty officer with considerable operational and engineering experience.

During a deterrent patrol, the sanitary system failed. Using the limited documentation and workshop facilities aboard, Aaron used sound engineering judgment and considerable intuition to identify a ‘similar’ replacement component from a completely unrelated system  and then single-handedly refurbished the defective valve.

Without his ingenuity, the loss of toilets and washing facilities would have had a major impact on the health, well-being and morale of the entire ship’s company.

And LLogs Andrew Gill was the RN’s sole Royal Navy supply chain rating at Al Minhad Airbase in the Gulf – a key hub of RN operations in the region.

Acutely aware of the operational impact should the correct equipment fail to arrive on time, the leading hand worked tirelessly to ensure delivery dates were achieved, often working long days and late into the night. 

On several occasions, it was Gill’s foresight that prevented breaches of procedure that may have disrupted important tasking, had he not interceded.

Lt Isha Harvey receives a Fleet Commander’s Commendation for her work as executive assistant to the CO of Commando Helicopter Force.

She oversaw improvements to CHF’s medical and personnel record administration, organised two hugely-successful CHF ‘experience’ days which raised significant sums for charities, and delivered the high-profile annual ‘Junglie’ dinner.

Her greatest contribution, however, has been her support of the RN’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic organisation, acting “to great effect” as a ‘reverse’ mentor to senior officers, providing ‘council’ on the direction and focus of the Navy’s BAME organisation as well as feedback on the effectiveness of its activities.

Also receiving a Fleet Commander’s Commendation is PO Richard Wilmot, who played a key role in replacing an unserviceable Lynx aboard RFA Wave Knight in the Caribbean – a replacement desperately needed as a hurricane neared.

PO Wilmot volunteered to lead all engineering aspects of preparing the helicopter, including the road-move to Brize Norton and escorting the aircraft during the flights to and from Martinique.