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Extraordinary bravery of Culdrose Aircrewman recognised

Published: 07 Oct 2014

An Aircrewman from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose has been recognised for extreme bravery at sea for his part in the rescue of five fishermen, at a national awards ceremony held by the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society today. 

Petty Officer Aircrewman Russell Adams, based at Culdrose, has today received an Individual Commendation from the Society’s Patron HRH The Princess Royal, for his courage, stamina and fearless determination during an air/sea rescue off the North Cornwall Coast. 

During the rescue on 1 February 2014, Adams retrieved five French fishermen from the sea shortly before their vessel, ‘Le Sillon’, was wrecked off Trevose Head near Padstow.  He battled significant spray, thirty foot seas and at one stage was fully submerged beneath a particularly large wave.  After the third recovery the helicopter Observer Lieutenant Commander Paul Robertson noted that despite being exhausted and vomiting, having ingested sea water,Adams was immediately preparing himself to be lowered again.  His professionalism continued on the short flight back as he cared for the survivors, monitoring them for the effects of cold and shock. 

Following the rescue, Petty Officer Adams said; “The plan was for me to go down on the winch and get the rescue strop around the crew one by one, bringing them up safely to the Sea King.  The sea state was pretty rough and I reckon there was an eight metre swell.  I was swinging around a lot and on some of the lifts I was dragged along the wave tops and underwater.  It did seem we were working at the limits.” 

Adams demonstrated outstanding courage, willpower and skill during the rescue for which he has been awarded this prestigious commendation by the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society.

The Charity’s Skill and Gallantry Awards took place on Tuesday 7 October at Fishmongers’ Hall in London.  HRH The Princess Royal attended the ceremony and presented the awards.  Currently in its 175th year the Charity still recognises the skill and bravery demonstrated by those who dedicate their lives to protecting Britain’s seafarers. 

Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society Chief Executive, Commodore Malcolm Williams, said: “Russell proved himself to be extraordinarily courageous and skilled as an Aircrewman during this rescue.  This award is testimony to his bravery which we are proud to be able to reward.  The skill and gallantry of the maritime and air/sea rescue professionals are second to none and we rely on them to protect those in danger around our coastline.”


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