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MBE for Marlow warship commander who battled against Gaddafi
A WARSHIP commander whose ship was called out during the battle against Colonel Gaddafi in Libya has been bestowed with a prestigious award from the Queen.
Marlow-born Royal Navy officer Phil Dennis, 40, has been given an MBE after being deployed on two back-to-back operations lasting 14 months in the Gulf.
Lieutenant Commander Dennis commanded HMS Middleton for seven months in Bahrain before returning to the UK and deploying back out to the Gulf three months later as the captain of HMS Quorn.
The former Sir William Borlase's Grammar School pupil had also previously spent time at the UK's Maritime Component Commander's staff in Bahrain - bringing his total time in the Gulf region to 20 out of 36 months.
Lt Cdr Dennis, who was deployed to Middleton just two months after marrying wife Holly, a fellow RN officer, said of the MBE: "I was totally made up when I heard. I told Holly as well and she was very proud - it was something I had not been expecting but it was a real honour that someone thought to nominate me."
When he took HMS Quorn through the Mediterranean it was at the tail end of the Libya campaign where sister ship HMS Brocklesby had real success with clearing mines laid by pro-Gadaffi forces in their main shipping port.
He said: "That type of action really focuses the crew's minds that going to the Gulf to train is not just training for training's sake - but essential for us to take part in operations around the world."
Lt Cdr Dennis, who now lives in Hampshire, sailed HMS Quorn from her home port of Portsmouth through narrow chokepoints such as the Suez Canal to eventually arrive in Bahrain. Three Royal Navy minehunters stay in the Gulf for around three years each before rotating with their sister ships back home. The minehunters are based in the tiny kingdom of Bahrain. Lt Cdr Dennis, who has also been working alongside the Japanese Navy for some of their Gulf deployment, said: "When we went through the Suez Canal it was quite poignant for me.
"My grandfather had been based on a mine hunter during World War Two where he helped sweep shipping lanes for mines in the lead-up to the Yalta conference in the Dardanelles. "He was very interested to hear all about what we had been doing and even more delighted when I presented him with a picture of the ship on his 90th birthday."
His former ships have included appointments on HMS Newcastle, HMS Illustrious and HMS Lancaster.
MBE stands for Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and is an order of chivalry for anyone who makes a significant impact while in Service of the UK.