Petty Officer Marine Technician Michael Fagg of the Royal Australian Navy School of Survivability and Ship Safety Training Facility (South) at HMAS Cerberus, has been awarded the perpetual Bradley Meek Shield, recognising him as the most outstanding Combat Survivability Instructor at the school for 2013.
The Bradley Meek Shield is awarded each year in memory of Leading Seaman Marine Technician Meek, who perished at the age of 25, during the main machinery space fire onboard HMAS Westralia on May 5, 1998.
To ensure the ethos of the award is upheld, Instructors are scrutinised and assessed on their professional knowledge, instructional technique, level of application to the training process, adherence to Navy’s values and the personal values that set them apart from others.
Petty Officer Fagg showed exceptional application towards Combat Survivability training and has not limited his knowledge or proficiency to just one discipline in that arena. He is recognised for being instrumental in the implementation of an awareness training program for new staff inductees and, in part, for all staff at his unit.
Petty Officer Fagg was unaware of his nomination for the award and overwhelmed by the high regard his unit held in him.
“Every Marine Technician knows the history of the Bradley Meek award and the tragedy on Westralia. Every day, all of us at the School of Survivability and Ship Safety work to make sure that everyone who goes to sea can react safely in fire, flooding and gassing scenarios. It’s that important. But it’s not just me; we do it as a team,” Petty Officer Fagg said.
Director Training Authority - Maritime Warfare, Captain William Martin, presented the award to Petty Officer Fagg, praising his accomplishment and emphasising the importance of the award.
“Navy learns from its tragedies and its successes. We strive to be the best we can by remembering our past, valuing our people and respecting their contribution,” Captain Martin said.
“Outstanding people and exceptional training ensures Navy’s bright future. Petty Officer Fagg has demonstrated his commitment to making a better, safer future for Navy and for his seagoing colleagues. His dedication honours the memories of those who died in Westralia.”
Through the nature of their work with machinery in close confines, Navy’s Marine Technicians are the subject matter experts of repair and maintenance and are trained to respond in critical situations, ensuring the safety and integrity of the ship. On the 5th of May 1998, disaster struck in the engine room of Westralia when a fuel hose burst, spraying fuel which ignited when it came in contact with hot machinery. Two hours passed before the fire was extinguished and four sailors died from carbon monoxide poisoning.