HMS Liverpool’s crew are honoured

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The crew of the Portsmouth-based destroyer HMS Liverpool have been honoured for their service off Libya in awards for Britain’s armed forces.

Also among the winners was Royal Navy hero Mike Henson, who received the Most Outstanding Sailor award for plucking 13 sinking mariners to safety in a daring rescue mission.

And for their efforts during the conflict in Afghanistan, Royal Marines from 42 Commando were named Best Unit at the ceremony.

Portsmouth-based HMS Liverpool was given a special judges award for protecting Libyan civilians earlier this year.

The Type-42 destroyer spent seven months on deployment to support Operation Unified Protector - the Nato mission to enforce UN resolutions and protect Libyan civilians which ended on October 31.

This involved the warship enforcing the no-fly zone and conducting operations to prevent arms reaching pro-Gaddafi forces by sea. She was attacked numerous times and destroyed enemy targets.

Petty Officer Mike Henson made an astonishing 27 trips up and down the wire of HMS St Albans’ helicopter to save the crew of a tanker in the Arabian Sea.

The Portsmouth-based warship had raced 100 miles to answer a desperate mayday call from merchant vessel MV Pavit off the coast of Oman.

The 2,000-tonne tanker had been rolling helplessly in a heavy monsoon storm after its engines broke down.

Its 13-strong crew from India were in a perilous situation as the ship took on thousands of gallons of water and three of the men had taken ill.

But just before the vessel sank to the bottom of the sea bed, Petty Officer Mike Henson arrived to winch the

men to safety before lowering them down to medics on another tanker, MV Jag Pushpa, 10 miles away.

The modest 29-year-old added: ‘Most airmen would do exactly the same thing but I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.’

Servicemen rubbed shoulders with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who joined a host of famous faces at the Sun Military Awards in central London.

The night, also known as the Millies or Night of Heroes, was also attended by footballers David Beckham and Frank Lampard, star TV chef Gordon Ramsay, and comedian Jimmy Carr.

Warrant Officer Phil Gilby, Regimental Sergeant Major, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said it was ‘truly an honour’ to be at the event.

The unit has just returned from serving on Operation Herrick 14 in Afghanistan where seven marines were killed.

Speaking before the ceremony, WO Gilby added: ‘We had an exceptionally hard but successful tour and that is what we have been nominated for.’

The ceremony, now in its fourth year, recognises servicemen and women for their outstanding performances and contributions in the military and saw 11 awards presented to groups, individuals and units.

The event can be watched on Wednesday night at 8.30pm when ITV1 screens A Night Of Heroes: The Military Awards 2011.

The full awards were as follows:-

:: Best unit: 42 Commando Royal Marines

The unit has just returned from serving on Operation Herrick 14 in Afghanistan where seven marines were killed.

:: Overcoming Adversity: Private Scott Meenagh

Pte Meenagh, of 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, lost both legs to a Taliban mine in Afghanistan. His colleague Pte Martin Bell, 24, was killed while trying to rescue him. The paratrooper, 22, has since won medals at the Endurance Games in the US for water skiing, and intends to cycle 3,000 miles across America.

:: Most Outstanding Soldier: Sgt Ryan McCready

Sgt McCready, of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, leads his troops in daily battles in Afghanistan.

:: Best Reservist: Able Seaman Michelle Ping

The 37-year-old paramedic braved Taliban fire to give first aid to a soldier who was shot in the head.

:: Support of the Armed Forces: Walking With The Wounded

Wounded Captain Guy Disney, Pte Jaco Van Gass, Sgt Steve Young and Sgt Martin Hewett were part of a team who made an unsupported trek to the North Pole in a bid to raise £2 million for charity. Prince Harry joined them for some of the trip.

:: Most Outstanding Sailor/Marine: Aircrewman Mike Henson

The Royal Navy Petty Officer, 29, winched down a helicopter cable in a monsoon off the coast of Oman to save 13 sailors from a sinking ship.

:: Most Outstanding Airman: Flt Lt Michael Anderson

The 31-year-old Chinook pilot was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after he braved mortar fire to rescue six Afghan children.

:: True Grit: Private Lee Stephens

The 31-year-old, of The Mercian Regiment, jumped from his tank to tackle a Taliban commander and bomb-maker who was fleeing on a motorbike.

:: Judges’ Special Award: RAF Search And Rescue

The organisation provides around-the-clock aeronautical search and rescue cover. The Duke of Cambridge qualified as an RAF Search and Rescue Force (Sarf) helicopter co-pilot last September.

:: Judges’ Special Award: HMS Liverpool

The Type 42 destroyer returned to its base in Portsmouth, last month after spending seven months on deployment supporting the Nato mission to enforce UN resolutions to protect Libyan civilians. HMS Liverpool was attacked numerous times and destroyed enemy targets.

:: Life Saver: Tactical Medical Wing

Based at RAF Lyneham, the Tactical Medical Wing helps provide medical services to all deployed RAF staff worldwide.