A ROYAL Navy diving expert who risked his own life to recover the body of a dead fisherman from a sinking boat is today being honoured for his bravery.
Leading Diver Simon Wharton, of Portsmouth, will be decorated with the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for his actions.
The 37-year-old was part of a team who battled to rescue a trapped sailor on MV Solstice when it sank on September 27, 2017, near Plymouth.
The vessel had capsized in perilous waters after being driven towards the rocks at Rame Head.
Two of the crew had been rescued by the RNLI but a third was still missing.
Married dad-of-two LD Wharton searched the sinking vessel in a valiant attempt to save the fisherman – who tragically died before he could be rescued.
However, rather than leaving the body entombed in the wreck, LD Wharton recovered the fisherman in pitch black, knowing the ship could have sunk at any moment.
He was supported by his fellow diver, LD Joshua Smith – also of Portsmouth – who led him to safety through a tangle of lines and nets hanging in the upturned boat.
Speaking to The News ahead of his medal ceremony, LD Wharton said: ‘It’s an absolute honour to be recognised enough to be awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal, however, it’s bittersweet due to such sad circumstance and my heart goes out the family and friends of the fisherman who lost his life.’
LD Wharton is now part of Fleet Diving Unit 1 and based in Portsmouth.
LD Smith, who was last year awarded a commendation for his role in the rescue, is part of the Clearance Diving Group and based in Portsmouth.