Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Posthumous George Medal for shot submariner Ian Molyneux

Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux with his wife Gillian
Image caption Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux was married with four children

A Royal Navy officer shot dead on board a nuclear submarine has been awarded a posthumous George Medal.

Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux, 36, was killed as he tried to disarm fellow crew member Able Seaman Ryan Donovan, 22, on HMS Astute as it was docked in Southampton.

Southampton City Council leader Royston Smith and chief executive Alistair Neill have received the same honour.

They were on the submarine and disarmed Donovan, who was jailed for life after he shot Lt Cdr Molyneux last April.

The George Medal is awarded for gallantry not directly in the face of the enemy.

Mr Smith and Mr Neill were touring the Royal Navy's hunter-killer nuclear submarine with other dignitaries including Southampton's mayor.

Donovan fired six shots from an SA80 rifle in the £1bn submarine's control room while it was at its mooring in the Eastern Docks.

'Ultimate price'

Lt Cdr Molyneux, a father of four originally from Wigan, tackled Donovan and was shot in the head at very close range.

Mr Smith and Mr Neill have been recognised in the Civilian Gallantry List. They believed the submarine was under terrorist attack, pinned Donovan to the floor and restrained him until police arrived.

Looking back on Lt Cdr Molyneux's actions during the shooting Mr Smith said: "It's a just award for the actions he took. He was the first one to intervene and he paid the ultimate price.

"It's well deserved, he was a fine fine chap and a great military man and he proved that."

In a letter to Lt Cdr Molyneux's widow Gillian, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope said: "In giving his life to save others Ian demonstrated courage of the highest possible order.

"His selfless actions displayed incredible presence of mind and singular bravery."

'Incalculably brave'

Mrs Molyneux said: "On behalf of myself and our children, I wish to express how extremely proud and humbled we all feel to know that Ian's remarkable bravery has been recognised with such a prestigious award.

"Ian is so desperately missed, but his memory will live on through his four beautiful children and in the hearts and minds of all who knew him."

The medal citation for her husband said: "Lt Cdr Molyneux, with complete disregard for his own safety, had deliberately made an effort to tackle the gunman, knowingly putting himself into extreme danger in order to try to safeguard others from personal injury.

"His actions were incalculably brave and were carried out in the highest possible service traditions of courage and selfless commitment, resulting ultimately in providing just enough disruption to the sentry's intent to enable him to be subsequently overwhelmed and disarmed."

Home Secretary Theresa May said Lt Cdr Molyneux acted with "considerable courage and selflessness".

"He acted to save the lives of others and sadly he paid the ultimate price."

"Councillor Smith and Mr Neill acted in the heat of the moment to ensure what was a terrible incident was not worse and more people were not injured - they were tremendous acts of bravery," she said.

The citation for Mr Neill and Mr Smith added: "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."

Donovan, of Dartford, Kent, was jailed for life in September for Lt Cdr Molyneux's murder and the attempted murder of three other officers.

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