Seafarers Garner Honors During AOTOS Gathering


January 2017


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Seafarers from four vessels were honored late last year during the United Seamen’s Service’s annual Admiral of the Ocean Seas event in New York.


Earning recognition were the mariners from the MV Ocean Glory, MV Maersk Kentucky, MV Courage, and USNS Mercy, respectively.


The Ocean Glory and Kentucky were lauded for rescues, while the Courage was credited for putting out a shipboard fire that resulted in no injuries (and saved millions of dollars’ worth of cargo). The Mercy, an SIU Government Services Division hospital ship, was honored for support of a months-long, international exercise named Pacific Partnership.


The Maersk Kentucky (operated by Maersk Line, Limited) rescue happened in May of last year. The ship received a distress call while en route to Singapore. It diverted off course and came to the aid of the disabled fishing boat Al Yasmeen, which was sinking.


All 11 men aboard the distressed vessel were allowed to board the Kentucky, after it was deemed that they were not armed and posed no threat. They were found to be in good health overall, but extremely dehydrated and hungry. The men were provided plenty of food and water before disembarking in Colombo, Sri Lanka.


The Ocean Glory (operated by Crowley for the Military Sealift Command) mariners were recognized for their August 2016 rescue of an Indonesian fisherman in the vicinity of the Bali Strait while en route to Banyuwangi, Indonesia. The account of the incident provided by Capt. Christopher Hill said that an officer on watch reported seeing a man standing atop an overturned, outrigger fishing boat. The man, who had become stranded about 20 hours earlier after his boat capsized during a squall, was caught in a strong current and was quickly being swept out of the Bali Strait and into the open, unfrequented region of the Indian Ocean.


The Ocean Glory notified the Indonesian Coast Guard and, while awaiting their assistance, attempted to pass a lifejacket via the ship’s heaving line to the distressed fisherman. During that time, the fisherman lost his footing and fell into the water while still holding the end of the ship’s heaving line. The ship’s pilot ladder was quickly rigged and all hands on deck worked together to quickly drag the fisherman alongside the hull and to the ladder, where he was able to climb aboard before collapsing from exhaustion and dehydration.


The Courage incident happened in 2015. At that time, the professionalism and superb safety training of Seafarers, which includes (among other disciplines) comprehensive instruction in basic and advanced firefighting at the union-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education in Piney Point, Maryland, yielded huge dividends.


All hands were safe following a fire aboard the TOTE Services-operated car carrier. The mishap occurred as the vessel (carrying a mix of commercial and U.S. military vehicles) departed Bremerhaven, Germany, for its final destination of Baltimore.


Finally, the Mercy played a key role in Pacific Partnership, and made several missions stops during the year including Timor Leste, Philippines, Vietnam, Palau and Malaysia. The operation featured humanitarian assistance disaster response collaboration and training, medical and engineering subject matter expert exchanges, cooperative health engagements and community relation events.


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