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September 1, 2011
By LEUT Peter Croce
THE swift and professional efforts
of Navy personnel after an explosion
tore Suspected Irregular Entry Vessel
(SIEV) 36 apart have been recognised,
with Governor-General Quentin Bryce
honouring 15 sailors with bravery
The sailors, undertaking patrols for
Operation Resolute, were included in a
group of 18 ADF personnel recognised
with a Group Bravery Citation for res-
cuing passengers and Navy crew after
SIEV 36 exploded near Ashmore Reef off
Western Australia on April 16, 2009, kill-
ing five people.
One of those recognised, LS Matthew
Keogh, also received the Bravery Medal.
The Armidale-class patrol boats
HMAS Childers and Albany were on
station monitoring the SIEV with 49 pas-
sengers and ADF personnel aboard when
the situation on the vessel deteriorated
and the vessel exploded -- throwing most
of the people into the
The citation praises
the entire group for
reacting "swiftly and
professionally" to res-
cue people in the water
and on the burning
Hetherington, currently serving on
Operation Resolute with Assail Two,
said he immediately knew "something
was amiss" and scrambled to the helm of
Albany's RHIB with two crew members
to render assistance.
"We were last to launch and headed
straight for the transom of the SIEV to
start getting people off," he said.
"It was still on fire and people were
jumping off into the water -- about a
dozen of them could not swim and it was
a very chaotic situation.
"Fear never crossed our minds -- we
just had to get them off because they had
PO Hetherington said he was humbled
by the citation, but it reflected the entire
border protection effort.
"It wasn't just us that day, it was the
supplies dropped from the air, the coor-
dination back at Headquarters Northern
Command (HQNORCOM) and beyond --
it was a whole team effort."
Chief of Navy VADM Ray Griggs
praised the efforts of all personnel aboard
Childers and Albany as well as those at
HQNORCOM in Darwin for their efforts.
"This is well-deserved recognition
for all the Navy people who worked hard
to save lives on that tragic day," VADM
"We should all be proud of their
efforts and, on behalf of the RAN, I con-
gratulate them for their work both on this
day and throughout their careers.
"This award is also recognition for all
the men and women who put themselves
on the line when they pull on the uniform
and undertake Operation Resolute in
northern Australian waters.
"It is a task that is undertaken every
single day, and one that requires great
persistence, dedication and professional-
AB Michael Lordan
said he was humbled by
the award, but insisted
it was a team effort.
"I am stunned a
bit [to get the award].
It was not something
I had expected, given
there were so many of
us working hard on that day," he said.
"I was in the initial boarding team
when we first boarded and after the
explosion I was in the rescue boat that
pulled a number of deceased people out
of the water.
"We rescued a number of severely
injured people out of the water and then
we approached the burning vessel and
collected people off that too -- we just
wanted to save as many lives as possible
because that is our job."
AB Quinton Boorman said he would
cherish the award for himself and his
"It was a group effort, it wasn't just
me, it was a whole lot of people pulling
together in trying circumstances," he said.
"We were just doing the job that we
had been trained for."
BRAVERY AWARD RECIPIENTS
crossed our minds
get them off..."
-- PO Paul Hetherington
AB Quinton Royston Boorman
LS Kirsty-Lee Brown
PO Thomas Raphael Dawe
CPO Dean Andrew Faunt
AB Tomas David Gallant
LS (now PO) Paul Christopher
LS Matthew Thomas Keogh
AB Jason Cordell List
AB Michael Alexander Lordan
CPO Shane Gregory
LS Maria Therese Mathews
LS Adrian Carl Medbury
AB Mathew Ross Pierce
LS Daniel Anthony Ryan
AB (now MIDN) Christopher
CPL Bradley Joseph Bendeic
CPL (now SGT) Sharon
Louise Jager (Air Force)
LAC Thomas Stephen Norton
(Below left) A HMAS Albany
RHIB recovers casualties
to HMAS Childers about 15
minutes after the explosion
and (below) sailors render
first aid to the injured on
Photos: Department of Defence
As brave as
LSBM Matthew Keogh has
been awarded the Bravery
Medal for his role in the
SIEV 36 response.
Part of his citations reads:
LS Keogh and three others
immediately volunteered to
form an augmented security
team to board the vessel.
Within two minutes of
arriving on board, the vessel
caught fire and exploded,
causing most people to be
thrown into the water.
Protected by part of the
vessel's superstructure, LS
Keogh remained on board.
He immediately assisted a
colleague, who had fallen
into the seat of the fire in the
bilge area and had sustained
burns, over the side to safety.
As the vessel continued
to burn out of control, he
noticed another colleague
suffering from facial burns
and a broken ankle. He
helped him into the water
before turning his attention to
the remaining passengers.
Disregarding the risk of
a second explosion, he con-
tinued to search and assist
the frightened and injured
survivors encouraging them
to jump into the water despite
By his actions, LS Keogh
Matthew Keogh has been
awarded a Bravery Medal
for his role in the aftermath
of the SIEV 36 explosion
near Ashmore Reef on
April 16, 2009.
Photo: ABIS James Whittle
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