Military honours: Bravery award for Portsmouth sailor who averted disaster

Chief Petty Officer Neil Halsey, who received the Queen's Commendation for Bravery
Chief Petty Officer Neil Halsey, who received the Queen's Commendation for Bravery

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A ROYAL Navy sailor who helped prevent an environmental disaster when a tug carrying 200 tonnes of diesel crashed has been decorated with a top military honour.

Portsmouth-based Chief Petty Officer Neil Halsey, 43, led a three-man team that prevented the Christos XXII tugboat from sinking in January last year.

CPO Halsey risked his life entering the tug’s engine room to plug a hole in the ship’s hull, caused by the tug crashing into the boat it was towing off the coast of Devon.

Now he has been decorated with the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.

CPO Halsey said it was the fear of an oil slick that made him continue with his dangerous work.

He said: ‘We found there was 200 tonnes of fuel oil on board, the environmental damage that would have happened to the coast and the surrounding area would have been a horrible thing.’

CPO Halsey joins three other Portsmouth-based sailors who have been recognised in today’s Operational Honours List.

Warrant Officer Christopher Mullan, Lieutenant Karl Ashton, and Chief Petty Officer Al Kennedy have also been named on the list.

WO Mullan, 44, has been awarded the MBE because of his work supporting minehunters in the arduous conditions of the Gulf.

He said: ‘I am immensely proud to have been nominated for this award.

‘It could not have happened if it wasn’t for the professionalism and dedication of every member of my team.’

WO Mullan’s citation said he was instrumental in raising the state of deployed vessels to an ‘unprecedented’ level.

Lt Ashton and CPO Kennedy have both been awarded a Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service (QCVS).

Lt Ashton, 28, stepped up to the role of deputy logistics officer on board HMS Dragon at short notice while the ship was on deployment in the Indian Ocean.

He said: ‘The team spirit and sense of pride experienced while serving in HMS Dragon was immense.

‘Taking responsibility for supporting one of the world’s most advanced warships on operations in the Middle East was a great privilege.

‘It is important to recognise the efforts and sacrifices our people make in support of the armed forces – I did not expect to be on the receiving end.’

CPO Kennedy, 34, received his QCVS for providing engineering support to minehunters both in the UK and in the waters of the Gulf.

He said: ‘After the initial surprise of the news, I am delighted to be receiving such a prestigious award.

‘I hope the award helps boost the profile of the mine countermeasures vessels and the operations they carry out.’

CPO Kennedy’s citation said the sailor always led by example and was ‘unwilling to yield’.