Special fleet award for Daniel

Daniel and Paula Blackburn with their son, William. Picture by LPhot Paul Hall (Royal Navy).
Daniel and Paula Blackburn with their son, William. Picture by LPhot Paul Hall (Royal Navy).

A Morpeth man has received a prestigious Royal Navy accolade that recognises his excellent work in difficult circumstances.

Daniel Blackburn, who joined the service at the age of 17 in August 2005, was awarded a Fleet Commander Commendation for his efforts onboard HMS Torbay in late 2015 and the first half of 2016.

This included continuing to carry out his role to a very high level, despite food rationing being required, given that the submarine was in operation for a longer period than initially planned.

The commendations are given to sailors, marines and civilians working across the service who have been nominated for their exceptional performance in their unit.

The 29-year-old, who attended Abbeyfields First School, Newminster Middle School and King Edward VI School when growing up, said: “My role as a leading engineering technician includes assessing the information and signals we receive and deciding which has the highest priority for the captain and crew to address or take action immediately.

“The food rationing at that time was a challenge because it got to the stage where breakfast was just one sausage with a teaspoon of beans and dinner was pasta and tomato sauce, but we had to get on with it as there was an important job to carry out.

“I was very proud to receive the commendation. Only a certain number of people are awarded it, so I’m very pleased to be one of them.

“It’s a role I enjoy and the good times far outweigh the bad. It’s a good career as you meet a lot of new people and see many places all over the world. I would say people don’t know 90 per cent of what the Royal Navy does. Various operations are carried out by its vessels.”

After signing up, Daniel did eight weeks of basic training and nine months of job training. He then served on HMS Edinburgh before moving to the submarine service after achieving the required qualifications.

He joined HMS Talent in 2008 and was transferred to HMS Torbay in September 2013 initially in the role of communications and information systems engineering technician. He joined the submarine he is currently with, HMS Triumph, in October last year.

The text for the commendation includes the following: ‘During this prolonged and uncertain period of operations, Blackburn’s leadership, mentoring, guidance and development of his team was instrumental to delivering the communications capability of the submarine and contributed significantly to HMS Torbay’s effectiveness.

‘Despite facing numerous technical and procedural challenges throughout a number of operations, he worked effectively to deliver this key operational capability, displaying characteristics expected of a far more experienced and longer serving individual.

‘Indeed his performance, attitude and ability matched and often exceeded that of his qualified and more senior peers despite the high intensity and challenging operations the Torbay was conducting at that time, which included the adoption of food rationing to prolong her endurance in response to continued tasking.’

Daniel is married to Paula, originally from Amble. They have a son, William.

They moved to Plymouth a few years ago as HMS Torbay is based in the city, although they visit their families in Northumberland as often as they can.

Of his wife, Daniel said: “She provides me with amazing support and she definitely gets the harder end of it – for example, she has to look after our son without me for long periods of time.”