The highest medal of honour has been given to Captain John Pearn, a maritime pilot at the Port of Milford Haven.

On September 3, Merchant Navy Day, the UK Government honoured Captain John Pearn with a Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service. This is the highest medal of honour within the maritime sector and it recognises John’s lifetime of service to marine pilotage and safety.

John joined the Port’s skilled team of pilots in 1992 and has since become an exemplary ambassador for marine pilotage. He played a key role in the safe introduction of Liquefied Natural Gas vessels to the Milford Haven Waterway and has worked tirelessly within the wider UK, European and worldwide piloting communities to improve safety. He has collaborated with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Department for Transport, British Ports Association and UK Harbour Masters Association, whilst also promoting safety internationally at the International Maritime Organisation. He has served as the Chairman of the UK Maritime Pilots Association, crusading for Piloting safety standards, served as Vice President of the International Maritime Pilots Association, and still holds a key role on the Pilot Ladder Safety Committee, continuing to contribute to improving safety standards.

Tom Sawyer, Chief Executive at the Port, said:

“We are unutterably proud of John. We can think of no better way to honour his lifetime commitment to improving the industry and the lives of those who work in it. As a key part of the UK’s maritime sector, we recognise and celebrate the dedication and diligence of all seafarers that the Merchant Navy Medals honours and send our congratulations to all recipients of this year’s awards.”

John is one of 11 seafarers recognised in the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service. These awards focus on the often overlooked but nationally important work carried out by the men and women in merchant navy, and their role in ensuring the safe movement of 95 per cent of UK trade. It’s a particularly important part of Pembrokeshire life with so many families working within this community along the Milford Haven Waterway.

Maritime pilots are responsible for the safe movements of vessels in pre-determined locations in accordance with the 1987 Pilotage Act. Here on the Milford Haven Waterway, except for a few cases, pilotage is compulsory for all ships, or tug and tow combinations, of 50 metres or more in length overall, with some vessels even requiring two pilots.