Page last updated at 17:15 GMT, Tuesday, 11 May 2010 18:15 UK

Navy diver who battled HMS Endurance flood honoured

Carl Thomas and Admiral Sir Trevor Soar
Carl Thomas received the reward for his efforts in helping to save the ship

A Royal Navy diver based in Portsmouth has been honoured for his courage while tackling a major flood on board a ship.

Leading Seaman Carl Thomas, 28, of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, was given a Queen's Commendation for Bravery.

The flood was in the engine room of Portsmouth-based ice patrol ship HMS Endurance while it was in the South Atlantic in December 2008.

The incident, in which 15 civilians were airlifted to safety, was deemed a "near loss" by the Ministry of defence.

The ship's mission is to patrol and survey the Antarctic and South Atlantic.

You displayed a complete disregard for your own safety in order to save your ship
Leading Seaman Carl Thomas' citation

Leading Seaman Thomas received the award from the Commander-In-Chief Fleet Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, for his efforts in helping to save the ship.

He made three attempts to fix a valve that had opened, causing the flood, but was forced back by the torrent of water.

He spent more than 45 minutes submerged in the darkened engine room.

The seaman, who is based at the Fleet Diving Unit at Horsea Island, said he was "extremely proud to be recognised".

"Although I got the award, I really think it was a combined effort from the whole ship - we were completely united in our goal."

HMS Endurance being towed in
The Navy is deciding whether to repair or replace HMS Endurance

Leading Seaman Thomas' citation said: "You demonstrated outstanding courage and fortitude in the most hazardous conditions.

"Repeatedly attempting to stop sea water entering the engine room, you displayed a complete disregard for your own safety in order to save your ship.

"Throughout every stage of this emergency, your selfless bravery and unwavering commitment were remarkable and in the finest traditions of the service."

The MoD said the ship could have capsized, sunk or run aground following the incident off Chile and that "clarity of command" had been lost.

Twenty-one recommendations were made but it was decided no legal action should be taken against any one person.

The ship was later brought back to Portsmouth, where the Navy is deciding whether to repair or replace it.

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