The Leader and Chief Executive of Southampton City Council have been awarded the George Medal for their role in tackling a gunman aboard a Royal Navy nuclear submarine in April last year.
Councillor Royston Smith (pictured below) and Alistair Neill (pictured right) were awarded the honour for disarming and subduing an armed sentry on HMS Astute while the submarine was docked at Southampton for a civic visit. Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux was killed during the incident. He has been awarded the George Medal posthumously for his bravery.
Councillor Royston Smith, leader of Southampton City Council, said: “Of course I am proud and honoured to receive the George Medal and to serve Queen and country but we should never lose sight of the fact that a good man died that day while doing his duty. Lt Cdr Molyneux was the first person to intervene on the submarine and he paid the ultimate price. Someone is not here today who should be and that should not be forgotten.”
Alistair Neill said: “I‘m very honoured to be told of this award, and humbled when I look at the list of very brave men and women who have received the George Medal in the past and again this year. I am particularly pleased too that Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux is to be awarded posthumously for his bravery, which I hope will be a proud day for his family.”
The George Medal is awarded to civilians for acts of great bravery, but not so outstanding as to merit consideration for the George Cross. The medal is also awarded to military personnel for those acts for which military honours would not normally granted, such as acts of great bravery not in presence of the enemy.
The full citation is as follows:
The Queen has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards of The George Medal and The Queen’s Gallantry Medal and for publication in The London Gazette of the names of those shown below as having received an expression of Commendation for Bravery.
Alistair Klaas Neill, Civilian
Royston Matthew Smith, Civilian
For tackling and subduing a gunman armed with a semi automatic weapon.
On 8 April 2011 Alistair Neill and Royston Smith were both visitors on board HMS Astute, which was in Southampton for a liaison visit. Many civilians were on board.
They were with other guests in the Control Room when they became aware of some loud bangs and saw one of the Naval Officers move towards the corridor. They then heard another bang and saw the same officer collapse to the floor. The gunman (who was an armed sentry on board) then entered the Control Room and shot another officer.
Both men believed the submarine was under terrorist attack and that the sentry would continue to fire until he ran out of ammunition. Alistair Neill was stood in front of the sentry when Royston Smith grabbed the firearm and began to grapple with the sentry. Alistair Neill also wrestled with the sentry and attempted to restrain him against a wall during which the sentry fired his weapon again. They eventually succeeded in wrestling the gun away from the sentry and it dropped to the floor. They managed to pin the sentry to the floor and fought to restrain him. Both men were concerned that the sentry may have further weapons and even explosives. Alistair Neill was injured in the struggle but still managed to hold on to the sentry until Military Police officers arrived at the scene.
Both men placed themselves at great risk by choosing to tackle someone who had shot at least two Naval Officers. By their actions they prevented further shootings and possible death or injury to others on board the submarine.