True heroism at sea was rewarded at the annual Bravery Awards, presented by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) recently.
Certificates of Commendation were awarded to recipients in connection with six different incidents during which all had displayed outstanding heroism in attempting to save the lives of others.
The acts of bravery included rescuing a baby from a sinking ship; rescuing 11 members of a fishing boat suffering from engine failure during a typhoon; rescuing three passengers trapped under a capsized catamaran; the rescue of 24 crew members of a container vessel which had exploded and was ablaze; the rescue of an injured crew member from a bulk carrier in extreme weather; and the rescue of a father and son swept off cliffs onto rough waters covering semi-submerged rocks from which ordeal, sadly the father did not survive.
Gold Medals and Certificates were awarded in relation to two further notable incidents:
The widow of Mr Jinguo Yang received his posthumous award in recognition of his sacrificing his own life whilst trying to rescue a person in distress on a ferry after it had collided with a cargo ship. Mr Yang himself had been rescued but elected to return to the ferry in order to assist.
A tearful Mrs Yang said, via China’s Permanent Representative, that given the same situation again, her shortly-to-retire husband, would undoubtedly do the same.
Aviation survival specialists, Randy Hall and Daniel Todd of the United States Coast Guard were honoured for saving the lives of 14 crew members from the tall ship HMS Bounty, during Hurricane Sandy. The rescue operation was conducted in extreme weather conditions of 60+ knots of wind and a 30 foot swell – absolutely on the edge of safe aviation. The success of this operation reflected great credit on the remarkable professionalism of the aircrews and the many support personnel involved.
The IMO’s Bravery Awards provide international recognition for seafarers and maritime personel and others who, at the risk of losing their own life, perform acts of exceptional bravery, displaying outstanding courage in attempting to save life at sea or in attempting to prevent or mitigate damage to the marine environment.
Nominations are scrutinized by an Assessment Panel made up of members of non-governmental organizations (including the Secretary-General of InterManager) in consultative status with IMO, under the Chairmanship of the IMO Secretary-General.
A Panel of Judges, under the Chairmanship of the Chairman of the Council, then considers the recommendations of the Assessment Panel and selects the Award recipients.
Captain Paddy McKnight, InterManager IMO representative, who attended the ceremony, said: “All these outlined acts of heroism reflected valour of the highest order; indeed, it was truly humbling to be in the presence of such outstanding individuals or in one case, his next of kin.”