In a ceremony held at the London headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a Filipino seafarer has been awarded for his extraordinary courage for rescuing a hypothermic sailor at sea.
Able Seaman Vicente Somera of the MV Lars Maersk was recognized by the organization with IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu handing the certificate of commendation. They said the award is “for his role in rescuing, in treacherous sea conditions, gale force winds and total darkness and after three challenging hours, a hypothermic sailor who had sustained several life-threatening falls attempting to repair an oil leak on his sailing vessel and who had jumped overboard in an attempt to retrieve a messenger line which had been thrown to him.”
Somera rescued mariner Steve Collins who encountered serious leaking problems with his vessel Enya II while sailing solo from Australia to New Zealand. The Pinoy seafarer risked his own life and used his own body protecting Collins from the swinging ladder. Soon thereafter, crew members of the MV Lars Maersk rushed to help the survivor who did a 20-meter climb up to the main deck.
In addition to Somera, nine other individuals were recognized for different rescues at sea. What makes his story unique though is that he was the only seafarer cited for the year with all others are being rescue unit crewmembers.
Enrique Manalo, Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom and the Philippine Permanent IMO Representative attended the ceremony along with Mick Kinley, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Maritime Safety Agency (AMSA)/
Ambassador Manalo said, “One can only be in awe of Mr. Somera’s willingness to risk his life in order to save a human life at sea. His actions are emblematic of Filipino seafarers’ professionalism and dedication to their work.”
Also honored during the event is US Coast Guard Aviation Survival Technician 2nd Class (Rescue Swimmer) Christopher Leon for saving four people last June 20, 2014 during a night rescue mission 60 miles offshore of San Francisco. He was awarded the 2015 Exceptional Bravery at Sea.