Mr. Bo Xu, Chief Officer impressed the judges with his exceptional rescue of two survivors, found in a life raft in severe weather and heavy seas.
Mr. Bo Xu, Chief Officer of the oil tanker Jian Qiao 502, is to receive the 2022 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea, in recognition of his bravery, determination and endurance when rescuing two individuals in a liferaft near Zhifu Bay in northern China, in severe weather and heavy seas.
Five individuals or sets of nominees will receive certificates of commendation for their acts of bravery, while a further six will receive letters of commendation.
The recipients were selected by a Panel of Judges, whose recommendation was endorsed by the IMO Council, meeting for its 127th session (11-15 July).
A total of 41 nominations were received for the 2022 award from 17 Member States and two non-governmental organizations in consultative status with IMO.
Winner of the 2022 award
On the morning of 12 December 2021, the cargo ship Tian Feng 369 experienced bad weather, flooded and began to sink 30 nautical miles northeast of Zhifu Bay. The tanker Jian Qiao 502, which was en-route to Port of Dongguan, changed course without delay to assist the vessel in distress.
After one and a half hours of exhaustive search, chief officer Bo Xu spotted a drifting life raft filled with seawater and carrying two survivors. The Jian Qiao 502 headed for the raft and the crew quickly realized that both survivors were too weak to securely tie a rope to themselves.
Mr. Xu jumped into the freezing waters without hesitating and swam relentlessly towards the raft, battling high waves and strong currents. After several attempts, he reached and pulled himself to the life raft and tied the ropes to the survivors, who were successfully transferred to the deck with the help of other crew members.
On his return to the ship, the chief officer immediately performed emergency resuscitation on both survivors, despite the fatigue and cold he still suffered. Eventually, one of the rescued survived and the other, regrettably, passed away due to hypothermia.
Mr. Xu was nominated for the award by China.
Certificates of Commendation
The Council agreed to award certificates of commendation to:
1. The crew of SAR helicopter Rescue Cyclone Victor, Flotilla 33F, Lanvéoc Naval Air Base, French Navy, nominated by France, for the rescue in severe weather conditions and heavy seas of the entire crew of the sailing vessel Don Quijote, which was badly damaged.
2. The crews of Indian Naval vessels INS Kochi and INS Kolkata, as well as those of tug/supply vessel Greatship Ahalya, for the rescue of 261 personnel (of which there were 18 casualties) on board the accommodation barge P-305, following its collision with an oil rig during cyclone Tauktae.
3. The crew of the fishing vessel Fukuseki-maru No.15, nominated by Japan, for the successful rescue of all 20 lives onboard the half‑sunken fishing vessel Bandar Nelayan 188.
4. Three crews of the Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, MA, United States Coast Guard; three crews of the 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron, Greenwood NS, Royal Canadian Air Force; and the crew of the CGCC Cape Roger, Canadian Coast Guard, nominated by the United States, for the international rescue operation of all 31 crew members of the fishing vessel Atlantic Destiny, which was on fire, unpowered, flooding and violently pitching and rolling.
5. Aviation Survival Technician Second Class Juan Espinosa Gomez, Coast Guard Air Station Sitka, Alaska, United States Coast Guard, nominated by the United States, for the rescue of a mariner of the sailing vessel Ananda, amidst heavy seas and limited visibility caused by a powerful Alaskan storm.
Letters of commendation
Letters of commendation will be sent to:
1. The crew of rescue helicopter B-7309, Beihai Rescue Bureau, nominated by China, for the search and rescue operation of five fishers of the capsized fishing vessel Liao Zhuang Yu 65558.
2. The crew of the fishing vessel Zhe Yu Yu 82085, nominated by China, for rescuing five surviving fishers of the sinking vessel Shen Lian Cheng 707.
3. The firefighter of the Hazardous Environment Intervention Group (GRIMP), Departmental Fire and Rescue Service of Reunion (SDIS 974), nominated by France, for his actions during the co-ordinated rescue of 11 crew members of the grounded tanker Tresta Star.
4. Captain Kakha Bezhanidze, Master of the M/T Elan Vital, nominated by Georgia, for the co‑ordinated search and rescue operation of 10 survivors found in three separate life rafts after the sinking of the M/T Suvari H.
5. Aviation Survival Technician First Class Newsward K. Marfil, Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, United States Coast Guard, nominated by the United States, for the rescue of two pilots forced to ditch their cargo aircraft into the Pacific Ocean.
6. Mr. Nguyen Van Hoa, Leader of the Anti-Drugs and Crime Team, Tan Thanh Border Guard Post, Provincial Border Guard Command of Binh Thuan, nominated by Viet Nam, for rescuing a swimmer swept away by fast-flowing currents.
Despite the significant number of nominations received, the Panel of Judges noted that several nominations did not provide enough information on their citations to ensure an accurate evaluation or did not meet the criteria of the Award Guidelines. Future submitters are encouraged to include as much information as possible, providing detailed descriptions of circumstances and events .
Rescue of migrants
Three merchant vessels involved in rescue operations of migrants, nominated by Croatia, the Philippines and INTERTANKO, fit the criteria for Special recognition for merchant vessels and their crew involved in the rescue of mixed migrants at sea (as per resolution A.1093(29)). They will be awarded certificates for this recognition.
IMO Awards Ceremony
The awards will be presented by the Secretary‑General at the IMO Awards Ceremony on 2 November 2022, during the 106th meeting of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (2-11 November).
About the IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea
This annual award was established by IMO to provide international recognition for those who, at the risk of losing their own life, perform acts of exceptional bravery, displaying outstanding courage in attempting to save life at sea or in attempting to prevent or mitigate damage to the marine environment. Such acts of bravery may also involve extraordinary seamanship skills in very difficult conditions or any other display of outstanding courage.
The nominations were examined by an Assessment Panel which includes representatives of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Maritime Pilots’ Association (IMPA), the International Federation of Shipmasters’ Associations (IFSMA), the International Salvage Union (ISU), the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).
The Assessment Panel submitted its recommendations to a Panel of Judges, consisting of the Chairs of the Council and Committees of IMO, which met on 27 June 2022 to select the recipients of the Awards.