PWSTS Forum for Old Boys, Family and Friends

Members Login
    Remember Me  
Post Info TOPIC: Merchant Navy Medal awards 4 Dec 2008

Prince of Wales Sea Training School

Status: Offline
Posts: 311
Merchant Navy Medal awards 4 Dec 2008

Among the 11 men and women who have been awarded the Merchant Navy Medal for 2008 is a Tees Bay pilot, Captain Colin Pratt, decorated for his bravery in rescuing a fellow pilot who fell overboard in the small hours from the deck of a freighter off the mouth of the Tees into the freezing cold waters of the North Sea.

On April 17, 2008, Captain Pratt was in the pilot cutter from which his colleague Paul Dunn was boarding the coaster Karina G, inbound in ballast, which he was to bring in to Tees Dock. As Captain Dunn gained the coasters deck he lost his grip on the handrail and in the darkness and heavy seas fell into the water. Although a recovery line was thrown to him from the pilot cutter, the cold numbed him so rapidly that he completely lost the use of his hands and was unable to attach it to his harness to enable him to be winched back on board.

Captain Pratt donned a survival suit and in pitch dark and heavy swells, jumped into the sea where he located Captain Dunn and swiftly secured the rescue line to him. Once he had been hauled to safety, Captain Pratt helped to remove his outer clothing and wrap him in blankets, and then kept up a stream of conversation to stop him losing consciousness as they sped back in to port.

He then accompanied him to hospital and waited with him until his wife arrived. In his 20 minutes in the water Captain Dunns body temperature had fallen to 31C (the norm is 37C and 29C is regarded as being fatal), and clearly he could not have survived much longer in the water. The nomination for Captain Pratts medal praised his unselfish act of courage which undoubtedly helped to save the life of a colleague. A grateful Paul Dunn was within two weeks of his retirement at the time of his rescue.

Colin Pratt, who is 46, first went to sea in 1979 as a deck cadet with P&O for whom he subsequently served as an officer in gas ships. When these operations were taken over by the Norwegian company Havtor, he sailed with the new owners and had his first command of a Havtor gas ship in 1990. He has been serving with Tees Bay pilots since 1996.

The Merchant Navy Medal is a recent institution. Since British seafarers are employed by companies, not the State, they had previously (unlike the Royal Navy and other maritime agencies operating under the auspices of the Crown) not had a decoration of their own to reward meritorious service or acts of courage.

Founded in 2005, as a charitable initiative with the support of the Chamber of Shipping, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and trade unions, the medal fills this gap. It can be awarded as an honorary decoration to those who are not registered British seafarers.

Other awards for 2008 are to: M. P. Coombs (services to cruise liners and the South Atlantic Medal Association); Capt J. R. Freestone (services to Thames pilotage and youth sail training); Capt R. J. M. Grey (services to marine journalism and merchant seafaring); Capt M. J. Morton (services to coastal shipping); Capt E. M. Scott, RNR, (services to merchant seafaring and the exploration and scientific research); CPO J. W. Summers (services to polar exploration and research); A. R. Todd (services to marine surveying and consultancy); B. J. Wattling (services to cruise liners).

Honorary awards were made to: Miss A. P. Haines (services to the welfare of merchant seafarers); Cdr C. F. Heron-Watson, RN (services to the welfare and education of the dependents of needy merchant seafarers).

The medals will be presented by Admiral Lord West of Spithead at St Michael Paternoster Royal Church, City of London, on December 4.

Full story:

Forum Management Team
Prince of Wales Sea Training School Society
Page 1 of 1  sorted by
Quick Reply

Please log in to post quick replies.

Tweet this page Post to Digg Post to

Create your own FREE Forum
Report Abuse
Powered by ActiveBoard