Real Lives: City officer Craig hailed for role in Libyan rescue

Rear Admiral David Steele, left, presents Petty Officer Pilley with his commendation
Rear Admiral David Steele, left, presents Petty Officer Pilley with his commendation
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A Royal Navy petty officer from Edinburgh has been presented with a commendation in recognition of his role in the evacuation of civilians from Libya.

Petty Officer Craig Pilley was serving on HMS Cumberland and was responsible for the registration of 450 people during three operations to evacuate entitled civilians from the Libyan port of Benghazi earlier this year.

The frigate was among the first British vessels on the scene, and helped to evacuate oil workers and other British nationals to Malta, as Colonel Gaddafi’s rule was challenged by armed rebels.

In his commendation, PO Pilley was praised for his efficient handling of the registration process, as well as his compassion in dealing with the evacuees, which they said was key to the success of the operation.

Honoured with a commendation by Air Marshal Stuart Peach, Chief of Joint Operations, PO Pilley was formally presented with his award during a passing-out-parade at HMS Raleigh, in Cornwall, where he is now serving.

The 40-year-old Hibs fan said: “I feel privileged to receive an award that reflects the superb efforts of not only my team in the ship’s office on board, but those of the ship’s company as a whole and the core values of the Royal Navy which they displayed in achieving everything that HMS Cumberland did while operating in Libya.

“The team worked extremely hard to look after the evacuees, some of whom had been through some testing ordeals in Libya and it was a real feeling of achievement to evacuate them from the dangers of Benghazi and deliver them to the safety of Malta for connecting flights home.”

PO Pilley joined the Royal Navy in 1988.

The former pupil of Boroughmuir High School has since served on five Royal Navy warships and ashore in Plymouth, Portsmouth, Rosyth and London.

Now serving at the Defence Maritime Logistics School, PO Pilley is passing on his experience to junior members of his branch as an instructor.

He has recently been selected for promotion to Chief Petty Officer and will take up a new appointment in the Defence Maritime Logistics School as the Deputy Logistics Training Officer for Writers next year.

Now living in Torpoint, Cornwall with his wife Angie, and children, Shaunii, aged 20 and 11-year-old Jordan, PO Pilley is still a regular visitor to Edinburgh to see family and friends, and to show his support for his beloved Hibernian Football Club.