Commendation for sea rescue hero from Ripon

A SAILOR from Ripon has received a commendation from the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet in recognition of his bravery in rescuing three people from the sea when a fire broke out on an oil platform in the Gulf last year.

Leading Seaman (LS) Stephen 'Spud' Murphy was working as a member of the Naval Transition Team based in Umm Qasr, Southern Iraq, when the drama unfolded.

The 41-year-old was aboard the United States Ship Ogden with the crew of an Iraqi Fast Aluminium Boat (FAB) when he witnessed the initial explosion on the oil platform. After assessing the situation he immediately took charge and having quickly commandeered the FAB he started searching for any survivors blown into the sea. Approaching the platform LS Murphy saw two Iraqi marines and a civilian worker in the water.

"They were all in a state of shock and bewilderment. I picked them up and transferred them to an American rigid inflatable boat , where they were given first aid and dry clothing," he said.

With the men safely in the hands of the Americans, LS Murphy helped to evacuate the Iraqi Marines together with the civilian oil workers from the burning platform.

He has already received an award for bravery from the Iraqi Navy, and has now been presented with a commendation by the Commander-in-Chief Fleet, Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent in recognition of actions.

LS Murphy said: "It's a real honour to receive a commendation and I'm pleased that by being out there we are helping to train the Iraqi Navy to react in similar situations. The two Iraqi marines came down to our base in Umm Qasr every couple of weeks afterwards to thank me.

“They brought their parents and said that I am now an honorary member of their families. At the time of the incident it was quite scary. Certainly something different from my normal job and I was just glad I was in the right place and able to help."

A former pupil of Ripon City School, LS Murphy has been in the Royal Navy for 15 years. He currently lives in Portsmouth with his wife, Kaatia, who is also serving in the Royal Navy. His parents, Jeannette and Michael, still live in Ripon.

LS Murphy is due to take up an appointment at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall in July where he will be passing on his vast experience to the Royal Navy's newest recruits.