As Chief of Navy, I welcome the group bravery citation for those Navy, Army and Customs personnel involved in the rescue of survivors from SIEV 221 at Rocky Point, Christmas Island.
On 15 December 2010 a vessel designated SIEV 221 foundered on rocks in atrocious weather conditions at Christmas Island. As the vessel broke apart, approximately ninety people were thrown into the turbulent water. In a combined search and rescue operation, forty one individuals were rescued by both the crew of Assail Three embarked in HMAS Pirie and ACV Triton. Up to fifty people died in this terrible tragedy.
I applaud the efforts by the Commanding Officer and crew of Assail Three who, along with the crew of ACV Triton, conducted the search and rescue in extremely dangerous circumstances, putting themselves in harms way and placing the safety of others on the sea above that of their own.
Over several hours the boats crews manoeuvred around and through the debris to within metres of the cliff face in appalling conditions. The rescuers repeatedly pulled multiple traumatised and injured survivors into their boats. At times the rescuers were forced to cover the survivors with their own bodies to keep them from being hurled out of the boats due to the rough sea.
When the rescue vessels were full, they transferred the survivors to HMAS Pirie and ACV Triton before returning to the shipwreck and searching for more survivors. Following repeated endeavours the crews were able to rescue forty one people.
The following Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel have been recognised:
Royal Australian Navy
- Able Seaman Daniel Ronald Blackburn
- Leading Seaman Mitchell Scott Davidson
- Lieutenant Jeremy Michel Evain
- Leading Seaman Adam Daniel Hubbard
- Chief Petty Officer Raymond Charles Manley
- Leading Seaman Shannon Mundy-Castle
- Able Seaman Cory James Roberts
- Able Seaman Jake Andrew Smith
- Private Dane Robert Heinemann
- Private Kale Raymond Morrissey
- Private Samuel Kurt Williamson-Robertson
The actions displayed by the crew of Assail Three and the embarked transit security element on that day, rescuing people in dire peril, showed Navy and Army people living our values and are in
the finest traditions of both services and of the ADF.
On behalf of you all I have written to those ADF personnel who received the award to express my thanks for their efforts. I take great pride in their actions and what it says about the quality of people we are privileged to work with. It reinforces the inherent risk involved in our work and the importance we place on preserving life at sea.
We acknowledge all individuals who contributed to saving lives on that most difficult of days, but should be particularly proud of those who have received this important recognition.
Chief of Navy