Plimsolls go to lifesaving program, Long Beach pilot, maker of lifeboat hook

The editors of Professional Mariner have presented Plimsoll Awards for 2009 to a U.S. Coast Guard mutual rescue program, a Long Beach pilot who pioneered modern escort tug operations and the developer of a lifeboat hook designed to prevent accidents.

The awards were presented on March 24 at the Connecticut Maritime Association’s (CMA) Shipping 2009 conference in Stamford, Conn.

The Samuel Plimsoll Award for Outstanding Service by an Organization was presented to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Amver program. Created in 1958, the program enlists vessel operators around the world who provide the Coast Guard with regular updates on the positions of their ships. When the Coast Guard receives a distress signal, it can then use that voyage data to identify and alert the ship in the best position to respond to the emergency.

Amver, short for Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System, is credited with saving the lives of thousands of mariners over the half century of its existence. In the last 15 years, it has been instrumental in the rescue of almost 4,000 people.

Over 18,000 vessels worldwide are currently enlisted in the program. Participation is voluntary. Voyage data is kept confidential and is used only for the purposes of rescues.

Accepting the award was Benjamin Strong, Amver’s director of marketing.

The Samuel Plimsoll Award for Outstanding Service by an individual was presented to Capt. Victor Schisler, a pilot with Jacobsen Pilot Service Inc. in Long Beach, Calif.

Schisler has been instrumental in developing safe and effective operating techniques and procedures for modern escort tugs. As ships have become larger and their escorts more powerful and maneuverable, Schisler played a key role in working out innovative maneuvers that allow the latest azimuthing stern drive and cycloidal tugs to maximize their potential and increase safety margins. For example, he is considered the father of twin-tug transom escorting. Schisler has also played a leadership role in transmitting to other mariners his deep knowledge about shiphandling and escorting. He has worked with pilot groups on simulators at training facilities across the United States and has served as a consultant with leading vessel operating companies around the world.

The Samuel Plimsoll Award for Innovation went to Mad Rock Marine Solutions Inc., makers of the RocLoc lifeboat hook. The company, based in Saint John’s, Newfoundland, set out to find a solution to hook failures that have caused an estimated 600 deaths over the last two decades.

Many of these accidents occur during lifeboat drills when a hook thought to be in the locked position opens while the boat is being brought back up aboard the ship. Mad Rock devised a hook made out of stainless steel designed to be fail safe in the locked position. Simple to operate and maintain, it allows the operator to see clearly and easily when it is in the locked position.

Accepting the award on behalf of Mad Rock was Lacee Abbott, the company’s marketing specialist.

By Professional Mariner Staff