Portsmouth sailor hailed a hero for preventing crew suffocating during dockside disaster

Petty Officer Toby Jones pictured with wife Jenny and sons Todd and Finn
Petty Officer Toby Jones pictured with wife Jenny and sons Todd and Finn
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HE RUSHED to the his shipmates’ aid, saving them from suffocating to death during a deadly gas leak.

And now the selfless actions of a Portsmouth-based sailor have been honoured with a top award.

Petty Officer Toby Jones, of Emsworth, risked his own life to save his fellow ship’s company during a nightmarish emergency on HMS Tyne.

A fault caused the vessel’s firefighting system to trigger.

With flood water thundering around him and nitrogen turning the air toxic,the dad-of-two was forced to seal the compartment where the leak was – locking away friend Rob Knott in the process.

But despite the risks to his own safety, the veteran navy diver grabbed a gas mask and ventured into the pitch-black room to rescue his pal.

Now PO Jones has received a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery at this year’s Operational Honour and Awards 2018 List for his ‘calm and measured leadership’.

Proud of his actions, Toby added: ‘Rob is a good friend of mine. You hope you never have to make that decision.’

Catastrophe struck on May 17, 2017, while the patrol ship was alongside at Faslane, HM Naval Base Clyde.

PO Jones was woken up after a pipe burst, sending a tonne of water into Tyne’s baggage store, with gas from the ship’s fire suppression system also leaking out.

PO Jones rushed to the cabin and, after seeing personnel were dealing with the leak, he ran to help engineers trying to isolate it.

On arrival, he saw two colleagues trying to recover a shipmate who was passing in and out of consciousness.

After giving him an oxygen mask Toby realised the problem was due to nitrogen gas which had also been released into the baggage store, and knowing the danger, he ordered the area evacuated and doors closed to stop the gas from spreading.

PO Jones then took the breathing apparatus from another sailor and went back into the room.

Eventually he found Rob lying lifeless and not breathing, and dragged him out up a flight of stairs.

He added: ‘It was one of those harrowing sounds I will never be able to forget. Closing the door, condemning a man, it was harrowing. But we all got out alive.’

Reacting to his award, PO Jones said: ‘I am very humbled to have received this award. My actions reflected the high level of training that I have received through my time in the Royal Navy without which the incident would have had a much graver and different outcome.’