MN CRUSH Bravery Awards sign now

In 1984 in the Falkland Islands, an unmanned and unguarded ammunition barge, loaded with over 30 tons of unsecured high explosives, mines, unexploded shells and missiles, plastic explosives, ammunition and other munitions, broke loose from its mooring buoy in extreme weather and was blown towards a troop ship with nearly 2000 British subjects on board. The troop ship could not be evacuated, as all the boats used to shuttle personnel to the shore were confined to base because of the conditions. There would have been no time for the ship to start its engines, slip its moorings and sail to safety. A tug was the only vessel available to intercept the runaway barge, and the crew only had one option available to them - to land somebody on the barge to make a tow line fast.

In gale-force winds, not knowing if the very act of jumping on board the barge would detonate it, an officer defied the conditions and the violent motion of the two vessels to jump on to the cluttered, slippery wet deck of the barge. The cargo of explosives was leaking (as many of them had been dug from the ground), and smoke was coming from the chemical mix - also, mines and other munitions were rolling heavily and smashing against each other in the wave motion.

Unable to manage the sheer weight of the tow wire alone, another officer made the jump to help. Still too heavy, a Combat Support Boat (CSB) was asked to help - but refused. The weather conditions were too extreme for the safe operation of the CSB. However, it was ordered to attend the incident and managed to liaise with the tug and the barge. It brought the tow wire over to the barge, allowing the two officers to wrestle the heavy steel wire on board to make it fast. By the time they had managed to take the barge under tow, it had travelled nearly three miles and was only approximately 100 metres from collision with the troop ship.

We have nominated the two officers who jumped on board that barge for a bravery award - the first one for the George Cross, and the second one for the same or similar. Further, we have asked that the tug's Captain be nominated for an award, too, for his outstanding leadership and ship-handling.

The committee of the Honours Secretariat have refused to consider the awards on a technicality - as it was more than five years ago. This is not a law, simply a guideline to preclude the many spurious nominations they receive. If the Captain, at the time, had not been restrained by modesty to avoid mentioning his own role in the incident, then the awards would have been conferred. The CSB operator was nominated for a bravery award - the two MN officers did not even get a thank you.

We want to petition the UK government to allow these men to get the rewards they deserve. If you agree, sign here!

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Roxie MurilloBy:
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