Capt Rawat, crew of Marlin Luanda to get global award for bravery

New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) Capt Avhilash Rawat and crew of the Marlin Luanda, which was attacked in the Red Sea earlier this year, have been selected to receive prestigious 2024 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea.
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Capt Rawat, crew of Marlin Luanda to get global award for bravery

New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) Capt Avhilash Rawat and crew of the Marlin Luanda, which was attacked in the Red Sea earlier this year, have been selected to receive prestigious 2024 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea.

Two individuals will receive certificates of commendation for their acts of bravery and 15 letters of commendation will be sent to their recipients.

Capt Brijesh Nambiar and the crew of the INS Visakhapatnam of the Indian Navy will also receive a letter of commendation for their support to the oil tanker Marlin Luanda when in distress.

The IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea is for two sets of nominees: the Captain and crew, for containing a fire after the ship was struck by an anti-ship missile; and the Captain and crew of the tugboat Pemex Maya, for their rescue of six shipwrecked persons from four different vessels, during a hurricane.

Nominations were initially reviewed by an assessment panel and their recommendations were considered by a panel of judges, who ultimately selected the recipients of honours. The recommendations of the panel of judges were endorsed by the IMO Council, meeting for its 132nd session from July 8 to 12.

A total of 41 nominations were received from 15 member states and three non-governmental organisations in consultative status with IMO.

Captain Rawat and the crew were nominated by the Marshall Islands for their extraordinary courage, determination and endurance demonstrated while coordinating firefighting and damage control efforts to combat the fire that broke out after an anti-ship ballistic missile struck their vessel.

On the evening of January 26, 2024, the Marlin Luanda, carrying 84,147 tons of Naphtha, was en route from Suez to Incheon when it was struck by an anti-ship ballistic missile. The explosion ignited a cargo tank, creating a significant fire hazard with flames exceeding five metres. Despite the damage, Captain Rawat swiftly organised firefighting efforts, ensuring the crew's safety and maintaining the ship’s navigability amidst the chaos.

With the starboard lifeboat destroyed, the remaining crew mustered at the port lifeboat station, ready for potential evacuation. Despite the extreme danger and the constant threat of further attacks, the crew fought the fire using fixed foam monitors and portable hoses.

The fire continued to spread, particularly affecting an adjacent tank, but the crew managed to contain it using seawater after foam supplies were exhausted.

After four and a half hours fighting the fire on their own, assistance arrived from the merchant tanker Achilles, and later from the French frigate FS Alsace and the US frigate USS Carney, which provided additional firefighting foam and support, followed soon after by the Indian warship INS Visakhapatnam.

Despite efforts by the Marlin Luanda crew, the fire reignited multiple times. The situation remained critical, and expert consultations suggested abandoning the vessel.

However, Captain Rawat and his crew persisted. The turning point came when professionally trained firefighters from the Indian Navy boarded the ship. They managed to get closer to the fire due to their superior equipment and their efforts, combined with those of the Marlin Luanda crew, finally succeeded in extinguishing the fire and sealing a significant hull breach.

Twenty-four hours after the missile strike, the Marlin Luanda sailed to safety under naval escort.

--IANS

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