A HERO who risked his life to save the last survivor of a sunken ship will go to Buckingham Palace to receive an award for his bravery.

Royal Navy engineer technician Stuart Rogers, from Old Town in Swindon, battled 40ft waves and high winds to rescue the 13th survivor of the oil tanker Rama 2, which sank 140 miles off the coast of Yemen in June last year.

Stuart was lowered down on a cable over the choppy sea from a Wildcat helicopter and pulled the last survivor to safety just as night was closing in and they were running low on fuel.

And tomorrow he will travel to London to be awarded with the Queen’s Gallantry Medal to commend his bravery during the mission.

Stuart, who had only recently qualified as a winchman before his first live rescue, told the Adver about the inspiring ordeal.

He said: “It was off the back of the monsoon season, so there were huge waves, it was pretty bad.”

“It was getting dark and conditions were getting worse. There was oil everywhere. It would go in your eyes and up your nose.

“Your looking for a dot in the sea amongst empty life jackets and debris. The sea was so rough as soon as I hit the water I was completed taken out by a wave.

“I thought that was it. anything could have happened”

Stuart was pulled under water by a wave and lost his bearings, before going back for a second attempt.

“The winch cable went through my legs and pulled me away from the guy. I lost all my goggles and I had to use my lifejacket to keep my head above water,” he said.

“I managed to get him the second time, that was our last chance really. Nobody else would have got him, it would have been impossible in that situation.”

The Sir Lankan crew member was hoisted to safety after being in the water for seven hours.

“He was just exhausted,” added Stuart.

“His eyes were red raw, he was drifting in and out of consciousness, and I was just holding on to him.

“I didn’t have time to worry about anything apart from getting this guy out the water. You just prioritise getting him out, and do what you can.

“The medal’s great. I really appreciate being nominated, but I’m just happy this guy got back to his family. That’s the main thing, I’m just so glad we got him.”

Only one crew member died during the incident, thanks to Stuart and his crew, and nearby merchant ships and Japanese aircraft who rescued the other twelve survivors.

Stuart’s wife Natalie Rogers added: “I’m just very proud of him. He needs to be recognised. He’s the type of person that would do anything for anyone.

“It was frightening when I got the phone call about what happened. He’s alright and the guy he saved is ok that’s the main thing , so it turns a bit of a negative into a positive.”

The Wildcat helicopter pilot Lieutenant Si Hall paid tribute to the others involved in the international rescue.

“The efforts of the crew of the Japanese patrol aircraft and the assistant merchant vessels were particularly humbling and I have no doubt that it was the combined efforts that results in a successful rescue,” he said.

Stuart served in the Royal Navy for more than five years, serving onboard the HMS Monmouth all over the world in the 815 Naval Air Squadron based in Yeovil.

The Queen’s Gallantry Medal is awarded for exemplary acts of bravery by members of the armed forces or civilians while not in direct combat with an enemy.