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[Governer-General will hold Investiture at Government House, Canberra … ]



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FOR INFORMATION OF THE MEDIA

The Governor-General will hold an investiture at Government House, Canberra on Wednesday, 13 October 1999 at 3.00 p.m. for the presentation of awards to those being recognised for their efforts in relation to the HMAS WESTRALIA incident which occurred on 5th May 1998. There will be 29 recipients and 36 presentations. A listing of those to be presented with their insignia is attached.

Journalists wishing to attend should arrive no later than 2.25 p.m.

Journalists wishing to interview any of the recipients are required to provide, on arrival, a list of the names of those they would like to interview. Interviews are to take place under the portico at the main entrance.

If you intend to be represented, please let Ms Dianne Callahan know by facsimile by COB on Monday, 11 October 1999 (facsimile 6281 3197).

If you have any queries about the ceremonies please contact me on 62833512.

(Dianne Callahan) Administrative Assistant

7 October 1999

Chief Petty Officer Graeme Hollis For bravery in hazardous circumstances following the outbreak of fire in the Main Machinery Space aboard HMAS WESTRALIA on 5 May 1998.

Chief Petty Officer Hollis was on duty as a watchkeeper when he detected a fuel leak from one of the ship’s engines. He immediately reported the leak and began attending to the problem when a fireball erupted, extending sideways through the Main Machinery Space. Chief

Petty Officer Hollis ran aft down the starboard side of the middle plate's to fetch the trolley-mounted fire extinguisher, returned to the source of fire and attempted to extinguish the flames. Chief Petty Officer Hollis was fighting the fire when a second fireball erupted, followed by further fireballs. With the fire extinguisher nearly empty and the blaze out of control, Chief Petty Officer Hollis attempted to evacuate by the port side

ladder which was by now his only means of escape. As he climbed the ladder, the heat of the rails caused the skin on his hands to melt. Visibility was zero and Chief Petty Officer Hollis could not see the exit door. At this point, overcome by fumes, he collapsed and was pulled to

safety by a colleague. By his actions, Chief Petty Officer Hollis displayed considerable bravery.

The late Petty Officer Shaun Smith For bravery in hazardous circumstances, thereby losing his life, following the outbreak of fire in the Main Machinery Space aboard HMAS WESTRALIA on 5 May 1998.

Immediately the fire erupted, Petty Officer Smith, on duty as assistant engineer in the engine room, went to the middle plates to assist in fighting the fire. As the fire intensified with concomitant extreme heat, overwhelming fumes and poor visibility, rather than escaping himself,

Petty Officer Smith remained behind to assist in the evacuation of others^ a decision that was ultimately to cost him his life. By his actions, Petty Officer Smith displayed considerable bravery. (To be received by his father, Brian Smith)

Hose Team 2

Leading Seaman Cindy Durnan Able Seaman Darrin Hunter Leading Seaman Trevor Mitchell Able Seaman Chad Morris Able Seaman Warwick Noles

For their group actions following the outbreak of fire in the Main Machinery Space aboard HMAS WESTRALIA on 5 May 1998.

Aware that personnel were still unaccounted for and that temperatures inside the engine room were continuing to increase, Hose Team 2 entered the Main Machinery Space via the fridge flat. The team encountered zero visibility and intense heat. Despite indications that they were surrounded by hot spots, the team chose to descend the

ladder to the top plates area. They were forced to untangle hoses and then began cooling oil drums and directing foam over the main engines. As the team fought the fire, their boots stuck to the hot metal plates and melting plastic from light fittings dripped down upon them. Despite wearing protective clothing, the intense heat forced them to hose each other repeatedly to reduce their body temperatures in order for them to continue to fight the fire.

Hose Team 2 only retreated from the Main Machinery Space after their air supplies became too low to continue.

Hose Team 3

Leading Seaman James Cain Leading Seaman Clem Croasdale Leading Seaman Chris Elliott -

Petty Officer Craig MacKinnon Able Seaman Nicole Williams

For their group actions following the outbreak of fire in the Main Machinery Space aboard HMAS WESTRALIA on 5 May 1998.

Hose Team 3, aware that personnel were unaccounted for, entered the Main Machinery Space via the fridge flat. Prior to entering, the team had been informed of the dangerous conditions they would confront. As the team descended to the top plates area they discovered the body of a shipmate, The team, in poor visibility, followed the hoses until they

located the nozzles and then commenced fighting the fire. Hose Team 3 remained in the treacherous conditions to fight the fire until their air supplies became too low and they were then relieved by another team. Hose Team 3 re-entered the Main Machinery Space after the fire was extinguished to ensure that the fire did not re-ignite.

Leading Seaman Jonathan Daly As the leader of Hose Team 1, Leading Seaman Daly entered the Main Machinery Space where the fire was raging. Although the initial courageous efforts of his team to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful, he later re-entered the area and continued to fight the fire. He subsequently located and recovered the bodies of three of the deceased members. His outstanding professionalism, bravery, dedication and determination deserve the highest praise and set a fine example fdr others.

Chief Petty Officer Gary Jenkins As the Officer-in-Charge of the After Damage Control Party, Chief Petty Officer Jenkins displayed high levels of professional knowledge and exceptional leadership to direct the hose teams fighting the fire and to sustain their efforts despite the extreme heat and poor visibility. His exceptional commitment and professional competence reflect great credit on himself and his actions are in the finest traditions of the Royal Australian Navy.

The late Leading Seaman Bradley Meek Leading Seaman Bradley Meek is commended for his outstanding actions in responding to the fire aboard HMAS WESTRALIA on 5 May 1998, and assisting in the evacuation of personnel from the Main Machinery Space. Regrettably, Leading Seaman Meek perished in the

fire. (To be received by his father, Vic Meek)

Leading Seaman Trevor Mitchell As the leader of Hose Team 2, Leading Seaman Mitchell led the team into the Main Machinery Space where intense smoke resulted in zero visibility. Using a thermal-imaging device he was able to confirm hot

spots. Despite the threatening conditions in which boots were sticking to the metal plates and molten plastic was dripping from overhead lights, he led his team to the highest vantage point to direct foam over the hot spots. His outstanding professionalism, bravery and dedication reflect

great credit on himself and the Royal Australian Navy.