FIVE officers who worked through the night to rescue 23 passengers and crew of the stricken Riverdance ferry have been honoured by the chief coastguard.
Tony Topping, Sue Daintith, Paul Harrison, Paul Campbell and Steve Cross were working at Liverpool’s Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre on January 31, 2008, when a call came in the ferry had been hit by a large wave during stormy seas.
Sue, 37, was in charge of liaising with the ship’s captain.
She said: “Initially the ship was listing but they were managing the situation and just needed a tow to port. But as it got worse they sent out a mayday to get the passengers and crew off the boat.
“We train for this all the time but we don’t get many maydays of this magnitude.”
Tony was watch manager in charge of co-ordinating the team, and Steve was in charge of communicating with lifeboat crews at Lytham and Fleetwood, the RAF, the Navy and local coastguards.
Sue added: “The crews in the lifeboats, helicopter and the rescue teams worked all night in conjunction with us. This award is as much theirs as it is ours.”
Handing over the award, Chief Coastguard Peter Dymond said: “The determination, professionalism and expertise demonstrated by the Liverpool coastguard operators throughout this incident were exemplary and upheld the finest traditions of Her Majesty’s Coastguard.”
The awards come as the Liverpool Coastguard is threatened with closure, and services transferred to Holyhead in Belfast from next year.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman today vowed there would be no change in how emergency situations were dealt with.
She said: “As part of the new structure, the Maritime Operations Centre will maintain an overview of activity right across the country and make sure work on search and rescue coordination, tackling pollution incidents and monitoring shipping is effectively managed.”