AWO honors heroism of tug and towboat crews with new award

(HOUSTON) — At its Winter Safety Meeting on Wednesday, the American Waterways Operators (AWO) announced the inaugural recipients of the new American Waterways Honor & Excellence in Rescue Operations (HERO) Award. The award documents and recognizes rescues undertaken by AWO member company employees who demonstrate selflessness, skill and bravery.

Qualifying events for the award include, among others: rescuing commercial or recreational mariners; responding to a medical emergency on board; recovering a person who has fallen overboard; responding to a person in distress while traveling to/from the boat; and other selfless service actions that reflect the safety culture of the American tugboat, towboat and barge industry.

The inaugural American Waterways HERO recipients include six vessel crews employed by three different AWO member companies:

• The crew aboard M/V Ron Callegan, American Commercial Barge Line, for rescuing a crewmember from a fall overboard near the Plaquemine, La., ferry.
• The crew aboard M/V Safety Explorer, American Commercial Barge Line, for rescuing a crewmember who had fallen overboard from another vessel.
• The crew working for Great Lakes Dredge & Dock who, while working on the Houston Ship Channel Project, rescued three civilians from the water after their boat caught fire.
• The crew aboard M/V Mary K. Cavarra, Ingram Barge Co., for rescuing a person in the water near the St. Paul, Minn., city front.
• The crew aboard M/V Michael J. Granger, Ingram Barge Co., for rescuing a distressed automobile driver who had entered the water near Paducah, Ky.
• The crew aboard M/V Midland, Ingram Barge Co., who responded to a health emergency on their vessel, rendering immediate care and supporting an airlift evacuation on the Illinois River.

“We are proud to recognize the inaugural recipients of the American Waterways HERO Award and we congratulate them on this achievement,” said AWO President and CEO Jennifer Carpenter. “These crews exemplify the purpose of our launching this award: to recognize the heroism of the men and women of America’s tugboat, towboat and barge industry, whose actions prevent harm and save lives on the water every day. We look forward to highlighting such acts of professionalism and selflessness, and at the same time learning from those efforts to continue improving safety across our industry.”

“We always say that our mariners are the eyes and ears of the waterways, but sometimes they’re the hands as well – first on the scene to help someone in need,” said Mary McCarthy, director of sustainability and corporate responsibility for Moran Towing Corp. and co-chairwoman of the AWO Safety Leadership Advisory Panel Distracted Operations Subcommittee. “The mariners that conduct rescues on the water often do so behind the scenes and humbly refer to their life-saving actions as ‘just part of the job.’ We’re excited to bring those stories to the forefront to show our mariners’ valuable contributions to communities on the water, and share learnings from them to help all of us improve as operators and responders.”

Companies wishing to nominate employees for an American Waterways HERO Award can fill out an informational form. Information submitted through the program may be shared by AWO with members and the public to support safety efforts such as lessons-learned presentations or safety trending reports, and to raise public awareness of the industry’s role in ensuring safety on America’s waterways.

– American Waterways Operators

By Rich Miller