A South Korea ship’s Master who resisted a pirate attack on his chemical carrier but ended up with life threatening injuries has won the 2011 IMO award for exceptional bravery at sea.
The actions of Capt Seok Hae-kyun helped secure the rescue of the 21 crew of the 19,900-dwt Samho Jewelry (built 2001) with IMO saying his action went “far beyond the call of duty at great risk and danger to himself.”
South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, visits Capt Seok Hae-kyun in hospital. With the pirates already on his ship Captain Seok steered the vessel away from the Somali coast, watered down the fuel to prevent combustion, pretended the steering gear was not working properly and reduced the vessel’s speed.
He also surreptitiously made contact with South Korean naval forces, which facilitated a dramatic raid by commandos from the destroyer, Choi Young.
During the hijack, in January this year Captain Seok was subject to a number of assaults which fractured his legs and shoulders.
Then in the rescue he was shot twice in the abdomen and once in the upper thigh requiring several surgical operations.
Several pirates are believed to have been killed during the retaking of the Samho Jewelry with other pirates captured, put on trial and given lengthy sentences.
Capt Seok, who was nominated by the South Korean government, will be presented with the award in November.
The owner of the Samho Jewelry, financially troubled Samho Shipping, has since filed for protection from creditors.