THE last ship built on the Tyne has won an international award for its lifesaving work in hurricane-struck Haiti.
Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Largs Bay has received the prestigious Firmin Sword of Peace.
The prize is granted ever year for outstanding humanitarian work which improves lives in disaster zones.
Largs Bay has now been renamed HMAS Choules after she was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy.
The ship was bought from Britain for £65m in April and was named after the last surviving First World War combat veteran, British-born Claude Choules.
Australia beat Brazil, Chile and India for the ship, which was scrapped in Prime Minister David Cameron’s strategic defence and security review last year.
The ship was built by the Swan Hunter yard in Wallsend and launched for sea trials in November 2006, sailing into history as the final full vessel built on the Tyne.
Largs Bay was sent to Haiti by the British government after more than 230,000 people were killed in the Caribbean territory in January 2010.
At a recent ceremony, the Royal Navy’s Commander-in-Chief Fleet, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, said: “There is no doubt in my mind at all that the teamwork and sheer determination displayed by the ship’s company of RFA Largs Bay saved many lives and your help continues to make a difference to the people of Haiti.”
When the hurricane struck, the ship was on an operational exercise in the Arctic Circle.
She was rapidly rerouted to provide humanitarian disaster relief and sailed from Southampton.
When she arrived at the capital, Port-au-Prince, Largs Bay combined the ship’s ability to position close to shore with the skills of 17 Port and Maritime Regiment to enable landing craft from the ship to cross the final stretch of water to the beach.
Working with American personnel, the Geordie vessel delivered 430 tonnes of supplies and 165 tonnes of rations, which equated to 389,000 meals.
Meanwhile, engineers worked ashore to repair generators and to rewire key administrative and public service buildings.
The crew also raised £10,500 for the Disasters Emergency Committee by jogging the distance from the UK to Haiti on ship running machines.