Sea captain wins Merchant Navy award for fighting off pirates

A BRITISH captain who fought off armed Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea was awarded a Merchant Navy honour this week in the East End. Captain Peter Stapleton received the award for bravery at a special ceremony at Trinity House in Tower Hill on Monday

A BRITISH captain who fought off armed Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea was awarded a Merchant Navy honour this week in the East End.

Captain Peter Stapleton received the award for bravery at a special ceremony at Trinity House in Tower Hill on Monday after he and his crew beat off hijackers with chunks of wood and water hoses as they sailed around the Horn of Africa.

The pirates armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK47 assault rifles, started shooting at their ship MV Boularibank but the 56-year-old, who has been manning cargo ships for the past 20 years, was determined not to let the pirates on board.

Captain Stapleton from South Shields in South Tyneside managed to beat them off by dropping wooden beams on to their boats and he increased the ship's speed, weaving the 550-ft cargo freighter from side to side to create a wash.


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He said: "I'll be honest, we were all trembling. I was glad to say the least when it came to an end because we were running out of ideas to fend them off.

"I'm not sure we could have handled another attack."

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Admiral Lord West of Spithead, the Merchant Navy Medal's patron, presented the gong to Captain Stapleton at the ceremony hosted by British Shipping.

He was one of 15 award-winners.

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