Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Crews of Freight Vessels Recognised for Skill and Courage

MOL Ships Demonstrated Excellent Seamanship to Rescue 64 Souls
Shipping News Feature

JAPAN – During the course of a year, amongst the mundane, everyday reports that fill the freight and logistics press occasionally comes a story which not only reminds one of the inherent dangers associated with the shipping industry, but demonstrates the skill and courage that sometimes is called upon, often far from land and away from the watching eyes of reporters.

Last week saw recognition for one such act which demonstrated the mettle of the ordinary seamen in which the crews of two humble woodchip carriers worked in tandem to save the lives of sixty four, mostly inexperienced, sailors lost in the fearsome waters of the Atlantic.

The Amver Assisted Rescue at Sea Award, sponsored by inmarsat and presented by Lloyds List praises seafarers for rescue activities demonstrating extraordinary courage and seamanship. This year’s award honoured the Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) woodchip carriers Hokuetsu Delight and Crystal Pioneer, which rescued the entire complement of crew adrift from the sailing training ship Concordia, after she foundered in the Atlantic Ocean 550km southeast of Rio de Janeiro.

The 57-metre Concordia, which operated as a floating school, encountered fierce winds on February 17th and capsized around 8:00 p.m. that night, with the crew and trainees, high school and university students, abandoning the ship. The search for survivors continued into the small hours of the 19th when, despite high winds, choppy seas, and limited predawn visibility, the two MOL vessels searched for and located the shipwreck survivors.

One can only imagine the difficulties as the crews struggled to control and manoeuvre the huge 40,000 tonne+ bulk freighters in the high winds, but the highly skilled officers and Filipino crews managed to locate the survivors from the Concordia and complete the rescue operations without any secondary injuries or damage.

On September 20th, Mitsui O.S.K. Bulk Shipping (Europe) Ltd. Managing Director Mitsuhiro Iwata and other executives attended the awards ceremony held at the Hilton Hotel in London. At the awards ceremony, one judge commented:

“The operation to save such a large group of student sailors was a deeply impressive display of skill and bravery by all involved. The actions of the Crystal Pioneer and Hokuetsu Delight offered a perfect display of international cooperation and a shining example of best practices.”

Photo: Alison Horrocks, Senior Vice President Corporate Governance and Company Secretary, Inmarsat, Mitsuhiro Iwata , Managing Director, Mitsui O.S.K. Bulk Shipping (Europe) Ltd., and Matthew Parris, The Awards Host