A rescue diver from China who made a series of underwater dives to rescue three people from a sunken cargo ship will receive the 2018 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery At Sea.
A Panel of Judges decided that the rescue merited the highest award. The decision was endorsed by the IMO Council at its 120th session in London (2nd-5th July).
Following a collision with another ship, in Guangzhou Port, China, in the early morning of 27 November 2017, the bulk carrier Jin Ze Lun sank. Of the 14 crew on board, two were immediately rescued by local maritime authorities but 12 remained missing. The bulk carrier was lying on the seabed, in the main channel into the port. A strong current would make the underwater search and rescue operation extremely difficult.
Zhong Haifeng, senior diver and deputy of the Engineering Team of Guangzhou Salvage was put in charge of the desperate search for survivors. After 36 hours of repeated dives, six survivors were located – trapped in the cargo hold. Mr Zhong instructed his team to replenish oxygen to the cabin and talk to the trapped survivors, to calm them.
Mr Zhong then dived down to the cargo hold alongside a teammate, bringing scuba diving equipment for those trapped underneath. In the afternoon of 28 November, Mr Zhong dived down six times. He taught survivors how to put on and use scuba diving equipment and personally rescued three of them in the space of one hour, despite becoming extremely exhausted. The Panel of Judges agreed that by personally exerting tireless efforts under highly dangerous circumstances, Mr Zhong demonstrated truly exceptional bravery and human spirit.
Mr Zhong was nominated for the award by China.
The 2018 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea will be presented during an IMO Awards ceremony to be held on 6th December 2018 at IMO Headquarters in London.
Of a total of 22 qualifying nominations, received from 15 Member States and two non-governmental organisations, a further three will receive Certificates of Commendation and eight will receive Letters of Commendation.