The Seamen’s Church Institute presents lifesaving awards to Foss and Maersk crews

The Seamen’s Church Institute recognized the crew of Justine Foss and the crews of Eli Maersk and Clementine Maersk with the organization’s Lifesaving Awards at the Silver Bell Awards Dinner in New York on June 1.

Jean R. Smith, executive director of SCI, commended the crew of Justine Foss. She praised “the brave crew of the Justine Foss for their heroic rescue of crewmembers of the tug Valour in dangerous seas.â€�

On Jan. 17, Justine Foss of Foss Maritime Co., responded to a distress call from Valour, owned by Maritrans Operating Co. The tug, which had a crew of nine, was sinking off the coast of North Carolina. Justine Foss reached the scene in time to retrieve six crewmembers from the water. One of the six rescued from the water died shortly after being brought aboard Justine Foss. One crewmember drifted away in the 20-foot seas and 40-knot winds and was never found. The chief mate had a heart attack and died aboard Valour before it sank. One man fell overboard and was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter.

After rescuing the crewmembers, Justine Foss then had to catch up with and monitor Valour’s barge loaded with 135,000 barrels of No. 6 oil. As soon as the emergency tow wire pick-up line of the barge was recovered, Justine Foss towed the barge to the Port of Wilmington on Jan. 19.

Smith also saluted the crews of Maersk Line’s Eli Maersk and Clementine Maersk for assisting 39 Somalian refugees adrift in the Gulf of Aden. The engine on their vessel had failed, and the Somalis had been stranded for a week before receiving help from the Maersk vessels. Two of the Somalis in critical condition and a woman who had given birth while adrift were given immediate medical care in Djibouti. The rest of the Somalis were temporarily put in a military facility in Djibouti.

“The crews and shore-based personnel saw to the needs of those rescued with compassion,â€� Smith said. “Maersk Line’s corporate culture values human life, and we are proud to honor their unwavering commitment to rescue any vessel in distress.â€�

The Seamen’s Church Institute also awarded the Coast Guard Foundation with the Silver Bell Award for its programs that benefit education, training and quality of life for Coast Guard employees and their families.

Lucy McFadden
By Professional Mariner Staff