IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea

The 2019 IMO Awards Ceremony will be held on Monday 25 November 2019, at the end of the first day of the 31st IMO Assembly. The evening event will see the presentation of the 2018 International Maritime Prize and the 2019 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea.

Main recipient of Bravery Award: 

Petty Officer Michael W. Kelly, Aviation Survival Technician Second Class, Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, United States Coast Guard, was nominated by the United States of America for his part in the rescue operation which took place on 14 November 2018.

On that stormy day, the crew of the rescue helicopter CG6032 was directed to provide assistance to the sinking fishing vessel Aaron and Melissa II. The vessel’s four crew members were abandoning ship in very severe weather conditions, 70 miles off the Coast of Portland, Maine, United States.

After taking off, the helicopter crew immediately encountered very strong turbulence and gusts up to 60 knots. Arriving on scene, the aircrew located a life raft, battered by raging seas.

AST2 Michael Kelly was immediately deployed into the cold water. Battling 20-foot waves and chasing the raft, which was constantly being blown away by 50-knot winds, he finally managed to reach the anchor line and pull himself to the life raft.

It was a critical situation with all four survivors suffering from hypothermia. Two were unable to swim, while the flooded raft was in danger of capsizing. With great strength and stamina, AST2 Michael Kelly pulled each survivor from the raft, one by one, swimming strongly through the storm to keep them afloat. Each was lifted into the swaying rescue basket to be hoisted to safety.

After each rescue, AST2 Kelly was forced to regain lost ground, as the heavy winds continued to push the raft further away. He fought through extreme weather conditions, as well as physical and mental exhaustion, to save the lives of four seafarers in distress.

The panel of judges agreed that AST2 Kelly demonstrated truly exceptional bravery and determination.

Certificate recipients: (the recipient or their nominee will receive a certificate on the night)  

  • The members of the emergency rescue team involved in the rescue operation of the dredger Rong Chang 8, Guangzhou Salvage, nominated by China, for their tireless efforts and courage displayed in the rescue operation of 12 missing crew members of the capsized vessel Rong Chan 8. During the long and demanding operation, the divers had to dive multiple times for several hours, with many floating objects and loosened structures falling from above, playing a key role in blocking their routes in search for survivors, all the while fighting a strong ocean current and an unstable, sinking vessel. As a result of their brave and tenacious actions, two survivors who had been trapped in the pump cabin for 55 hours were rescued and the remains of a casualty were recovered.
  • Corvette Lieutenant of the Naval Infantry Juan Mateo Cabrera (posthumously), Secretariat of the Navy (SEMAR) – Mexican Navy, nominated by Mexico, for sacrificing his own life whilst helping other crew members to abandon their helicopter, which had just violently crashed onto the sea surface and was sinking rapidly. Lieutenant Cabrera was carrying out surveillance and species protection operations in the Gulf of California, together with eight other individuals from the Mexican Navy, on board a naval helicopter. Despite the chaos and confusion reigning in the aircraft after the accident, Lieutenant Cabrera quickly took action and helped three of his fellow crew members to escape to the surface and survive the ordeal. Sadly, his lifeless body was found five days later.
  • The Master and crew of the M/V APL Vancouver, nominated by Singapore, for the bravery, determination and professionalism displayed while fighting a fire that broke out in a cargo hold and had quickly spread to the containers on deck. The tireless fire-fighting efforts of Captain Mioc Zeljko (Croatia) and the crew members, for more than 36 hours, kept the raging fire under control until the arrival of the assisting fire-fighting tugs and the Coast Guard. As a result of their courageous actions, the 24 lives on board were saved, further damage to the ship was prevented and a serious marine pollution incident, potentially caused by the marine fuel and the large quantity of dangerous goods carried on board, was averted.
  • The Master and crew of the M/V Green Lake, nominated by the United States for the exceptional seamanship, tenacity and leadership demonstrated in attempting to rescue, for over 18 strenuous hours, 21 crew members of the M/V Sincerity Ace who had been forced to abandon ship due to a fire on board that had quickly grown out of control, in extreme weather conditions of 30‑knot winds and 25‑foot waves. The Captain of the Green Lake skilfully manoeuvred his 633-foot long vessel safely alongside survivors in the water, resulting in the rescue of seven crew members, while simultaneously coordinating the rescue efforts conducted by three other vessels assisting in the operation, saving the lives of nine other survivors.

Recipient of the International Maritime Prize 

Mr. Joseph J. Angelo, a former United States Coast Guard (USCG) and International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO) senior executive who participated in International Maritime Organization (IMO) meetings for many years, providing leadership on a number of key regulatory developments

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