A crew has been awarded for its heroism after rescuing seven seafarers from a ship which was sinking in the Bay of Biscay near the UK.
Officers and crewmembers of the Crowley Maritime-managed MV Ocean Titan were honoured with a 2012 Admiral of the Ocean Sea (AOTOS) Mariners’ Plaque for demonstrating heroism at sea during the United Seamen’s Service’s (USS) annual AOTOS awards ceremony in New York.
The mariners were recognised for their rescue, last December, of crew of the MV Florece, which sank about 250 miles southwest of Land’s End in the Bay of Biscay following a collision with the tanker MV Afrodite. Accepting the award on behalf of the ship’s officers and crew was Captain Christopher Hill, Master on the Ocean Titan.
The account of the incident provided by the USS said the collision caused the Florece to sink to the ocean floor within an hour, causing the crew of seven to take to lifeboats. Shortly after, the crew of the Ocean Titan received the distress call and, upon arriving on scene, launched rescue operations. The crew faced gale-force winds and 12 to 14ft seas, and had a full load of cargo. To ensure the crew’s safety, Hill decreased the vessel’s speed to prevent broaching as he approached, and then idled near the life raft. He used the engines and rudder to block the swell and minimise roll, moving close enough to pull the survivors on board from the raft using a heaving line.
“The Ocean Titan crew saved lives, while demonstrating proficiency and devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the sea,” wrote the USS in its account of the rescue.
“On behalf of everyone at Crowley, we want to commend crew of the Ocean Titan for their truly heroic act,” said Mike Golonka, Vice President, ship management. “Capt Hill and his crew showed extraordinary skill to ensure the safety of their own lives while fighting through extreme weather to rescue their seven fellow mariners. Without the crew’s bravery, those men may not be alive today.”
The Ocean Titan crew involved in the rescue included Capt Hill, Chief Mate Thomas Lisante, Second Mate Daniel Landgrebe, Third Mate Zachary Gray, Chief Engineer John Vlahakis, First Assistant Engineer Sean Donovan, Bosun Magdy Balat, AB Hilario Rochez, AB James Luttrell, AB Miguel Angel Matos, QMED Electrician Michael Kelly, GUDE Stephon Thompson, Steward Lawrence Winfield and ACU Steven Holmes.
The Ocean Titan is operated by Intermarine LLC through its US-flag affiliate US Ocean LLC, as part of its US-flag heavy-lift service. Crowley began managing vessels for Intermarine in October 2011, including the technical management of the M/V Ocean Titan in April 2012.
Pictured accepting the AOTOS Mariners’ Plaque on behalf of the officers and crew of the Ocean Titan was Captain Christopher Hill (second from right). Accepting the Mariners’ Plaque on behalf of the officers and crew of the USNS 1st LT Baldomero Lopez was AMO National Executive Vice President Robert Kiefer. With them at the AOTOS awards ceremony were (left to right) AMO National Assistant Vice President David Weathers, AMO National President Thomas Bethel and AMO National Secretary-Treasurer José Leonard. Photo courtesy AMO.