Success sailors commended for actions during a man overboard

Published on Ms Natalie Staples (author), ABCSO Steven Thomson (photographer)

Commodore Warfare, Commodore Peter Leavy RAN, presents a Group Commendation to members of HMAS Success' ship's company. From left - Leading Seaman Boatswain's Mate (LSBM) Nathan Kane, Commodore Warfare, Commodore Peter Leavy RAN, LSBM Luke Horsburgh, LSBM Lucy Ricketts, Seaman Boatswain's Mate Gemma Hawken and Commanding Officer HMAS Success, Captain Allison Norris, RAN.  (photo: ABCSO Steven Thomson)
Commodore Warfare, Commodore Peter Leavy RAN, presents a Group Commendation to members of HMAS Success' ship's company. From left - Leading Seaman Boatswain's Mate (LSBM) Nathan Kane, Commodore Warfare, Commodore Peter Leavy RAN, LSBM Luke Horsburgh, LSBM Lucy Ricketts, Seaman Boatswain's Mate Gemma Hawken and Commanding Officer HMAS Success, Captain Allison Norris, RAN.

Six people from HMAS Success have been recognised for their calm and professional teamwork during a man overboard incident off Hawaii when they were presented with a Commendation recently by Commodore Warfare, Commodore Pete Leavy.

Leading Seaman Luke Horsburgh, Able Seaman Christopher Sinclair and Seaman Gemma Hawken were embarked in the remote control capable rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) Barracuda, during tactical development trials as part of Exercise RIMPAC 14.

During the recovery of Barracuda, the recovery hook became entangled in the boat’s mast, causing the bowman Able Seaman Sinclair to fall overboard.  The coxswain, Leading Seaman Horsburgh, became trapped under the mast and the deck hand, Seaman Hawken, was also trapped.

With the boat on the boat rope moving significantly on a moderate sea, Seaman Hawken managed to wiggle free.

“The mast fell across my foot and lower leg, but I managed to get myself out from under it.  I was able to then lift the mast assembly to free the injured coxswain,” Seaman Hawken said.

“I then slipped the boat rope.  The motion of the boat alongside the boat and the configuration made it pretty challenging, but I just did what I had to do.

At the same time, and despite being injured, Leading Seaman Horsburgh maintained the Barracuda’s position alongside and once slipped, manoeuvred the boat to safety.

Meantime, in Prowler, Success’ portside RHIB, coxswain Leading Seaman Lucy Ricketts, saw the incident and moved quickly to recover Able Seaman Sinclair from the water.

“It all happened very quickly. As soon as we realised what was happening, our training kicked in.  Our first priority was to get Chris from the water,” she said.

“The rest of Barracuda’s crew were either injured or in shock, so Leading Seaman Nathan Kane, Able Seaman Steven Tapp and I took charge of both boats and got them safely back to Success.”

Commodore Warfare, Commodore Pete Leavy, recognised the bravery and professionalism of all six of the sailors, when he presented his commendation.

“You were faced with a difficult and dangerous situation while isolated from the ship.  As junior sailors you responded magnificently to ensure the safety of your fellow sailor and the boats,” Commodore Leavy said.

“You instinctively demonstrated very high standards of seamanship and used your leadership skills, resourcefulness, courage and resilience to prevail in adversity.”

“You have all performed to a standard well beyond that expected of your rank and experience level,” Commodore Leavy said.

“I congratulate you on being role models to your peers and for your actions.”