V.Ships Crew Honoured for Sea Rescue

Friday, October 04 - 2013

A courageous V.Ships captain and his crew, who rescued survivors from an explosion on a vessel that tragically killed its Chief Officer, have been recognised for their bravery and prompt reactions by the International Maritime Organisation.

Captain Vladimir Safonov and his shipmates have been awarded a Certificate of Commendation following a nomination by the UK Government for the IMO's Exceptional Bravery At Sea award.

The rescue took place while Captain Safonov and the crew of the DS Crown were on a voyage from Halifax to Falmouth. The V.Ships captain and his crew raced to the rescue of the MSC Flaminia after it exploded in the mid North Atlantic on July 14 last year.

The crew of the Flaminia had abandoned ship after the blast was sparked by a fire in one of the holds.

The 24 shipmates were left adrift in a lifeboat and a liferaft which held the worst injured from the accident. These included the Chief Officer who had received severe burns to 80 per cent of his body.

The DS Crown was first to arrive on the scene at around 9.50am and immediately began helping the Flaminia's shipmates from the water.

The liferaft was brought onboard by crane and the remaining survivors on the lifeboat were helped up by ladder. Emergency medical assistance was then provided with the Chief Officer being given oxygen and morphine but he sadly passed away two-and-a-half hours later.

 The Bosun and two other crew members of the Flaminia who had also been badly burned were then transferred to a coastguard vessel which took them to the Azores from where they were airlifted to hospital.

The remaining 20 survivors were taken to Falmouth by the DS Crown where the crew were thanked for the speed of their assistance which helped avoid further casualties.

The Flaminia had to be towed to the port of Wilhelmshaven, because no other port would take the ship in her severely damaged condition and due to some potentially highly dangerous cargo stowed close to where the fire began.

A letter from Koji Sekimizu, Secretary General of the IMO, to Captain Safonov offers "warm congratulations for your effort, of which you should be rightly proud".

The Certificate of Commendation will be presented to Captain Safonov at an award ceremony at the IMO headquarters in London on Monday, November 25.

He said: "This award is a tribute to the bravery and professionalism of my whole crew during that dangerous operation. I am honoured to accept it on their behalf."