The inaugural IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea has been presented to two seafarers who risked their lives to save others in a dramatic rescue operation in gale-force winds.
Second Officer Mustafa Topiwala of the 83,155 dwt Bahamas-registered oil/bulk ore carrier Searose
G and Captain Zvonimir Ostric (who was on the vessel as onboard trainer at the time of the incident) were selected to receive the inaugural 2007 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea, in recognition of their part in the rescue of survivors from the sunken vessel Teklivka, in the eastern Mediterranean, in March 2006. They were nominated by the Bahamas and by the International Federation of Shipmasters' Associations (IFSMA).
Presenting the award, during a special ceremony in London held during the Organization's 25th Assembly, IMO Secretary-General Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said the award was "a tribute to extraordinary courage; to adversity faced and adversity overcome; to determination in the face of grave danger; and to lives risked and lives saved."
The Searose G was on passage through the Mediterranean, bound for the Suez Canal, when it responded to a distress call from the Maltese-flagged Teklivka, which was sinking 50 miles south in gale force winds. By the time the Searose G reached the scene, the Teklivka had sunk. Nevertheless, a dramatic rescue operation was launched and the Searose G managed to rescue nine crew members with a further three survivors picked up by another vessel.
Tragically, three crew members of the Teklivka were lost.