Vietnamese Rescuers to Receive IMO Bravery Award

Vietnamese crew members will receive the 2021 IMO Award for "Special Action of Courage" at sea for rescuing four survivors from the sinking of cargo ship VIETSHIP 01 in October 2020.
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Vietnamese Rescuers to Receive IMO Bravery Award
Crew member Tran Van Khoi went to rescue the cargo ship VIETSHIP 01 that sank in October 2020. Photo: NDO

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has just announced this year's "Special Action of Courage" award for Tran Van Khoi, a search and rescue crew member of the Search and Rescue Officer of the Regional Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center No.II, Viet Nam Maritime Administration.

Before that, on the morning of October 8, 2020, the ship VIETSHIP 01, anchored in Cua Viet port area, was washed away by flood water and ran aground. The ship VIETSHIP 01 with nine people while adrift rescued three crew members of the ship VIETSHIP TK 12 that had sunk earlier.

On October 9, the four crew members were able to swim to shore, the remaining eight crew members clung to the floating part of the ship, trying to hold out. On the morning of October 10, a rescue force consisting of four seasoned fishermen went on a fishing boat and tried to approach the ship in distress. When approaching the vessel VIETSHIP 01 due to strong waves, the fishing boat capsized, three crew members climbed onto the ship and one person swam to shore.

Vietnamese Rescuers to Receive IMO Bravery Award
Image of crewman Tran Van Khoi and his teammates crossing the waves to approach the VIETSHIP 01 ship. Photo: NDO

At this time, there were 11 people on the ship, including eight crew members and three fishermen. Under the drastic direction of the Front Command, which was established at the scene, the forces searched for all options and found ways to save the victims. On the afternoon of October 10, at 3:15 p.m., the rescue force continued to bring the fishing boat with four people, including crewman Tran Van Khoi of the Regional Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center. Tran Van Khoi joined the command on the boat and bravely crossed the waves to approach VIETSHIP 01.

By 3:45 p.m., the rescue force had successfully brought the two people to shore. At this time, there were nine people on board VIETSHIP 01, including eight crew members and a fisherman.

The marine rescue force and local fishermen familiar with the currents of the sea together tried to approach the VIETSHIP 01 with fishing boats but it was not effective due to the waves being too big and the currents tight. At this time, two crew members on board VIETSHIP 01 jumped into the sea because of panic, realizing the dangerous situation, Khoi jumped into the water and swam out to save these two crewmen and bring them back to shore safely.

In the late afternoon, Khoi continued to volunteer to control the lifeboat to try to approach the accident site, the rough sea caused the water to make the lifeboat stall, sway, and risk capsizing at any time. However, with effort and experience, Khoi and his teammates quickly fixed the engine problem and continued to struggle with the rough waves to approach the Vietship 01, but failed.

By this time it was dark, the entire rescue team was exhausted and ordered to return to shore. The final action of the rescue operation took place on October 11, 2020, after a rescue helicopter was deployed to the scene and the remaining survivors were taken to safety.

Khoi said: “The next day, the storm was more intense, participating directly at the scene for two days in a row, so my colleague and I understood the danger of this rescue work because life and death were only seconds apart. Although we were nervous, we started the lifeboat and rushed to the sea. Each the waves rolled past us, we were reliefed we were still alive. The distance to sea was difficult, but when approaching the vessel VIETSHIP 01, it was even more difficult.”

Vietnamese Rescuers to Receive IMO Bravery Award
Tran Van Khoi received an IMO award from Vietnam for his extraordinary courage, will and endurance. Photo: IMO
The IMO Awards Ceremony will be held according to the plan proposed by the IMO Secretary-General. This annual award established by IMO aims to provide international recognition to those who perform exceptional acts of bravery, demonstrating outstanding courage in their efforts to save lives in distress at sea or to prevent , minimizing damage to the ocean environment in situations where there is the potential for risk of sacrifice or injury.

This year, a total of 37 nominations were proposed from 23 Member States and four NGOs in consultation with IMO. The nominated individuals or groups were evaluated by the Jury. The composition of this Council is appointed by the IMO, which met online for its 125th session from June 28 to July 2.

Vietnamese Rescuers to Receive IMO Bravery Award
Director of the Vietnam Maritime Administration Nguyen Xuan Sang presents the IMO Council's Letter of Commendation to Captain Dinh Xuan Truong in 2020. Photo: NDO

In 2020, the person nominated by Vietnam to IMO is Dinh Xuan Truong, captain of the ship SAR 413 of the Regional Center for Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination III. IMO acknowledges the professionalism, determination and efforts in the rescue of 11 crew members and passengers of Dai Hai Phat 17 in difficult weather conditions on November 20, 2019.

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