Seamanship Trophy Recognizes Rescue

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The captain and crew of a U.S.-flag merchant vessel will receive the American Merchant Marine Seamanship Trophy for their skillful action in rescuing two mariners from stormy seas. Capt. Tom McDorr and the crew of Horizon Falcon, owned by Horizon Lines, Inc., displayed superior seamanship last year when they saved the lives of two Chinese sailors whose vessel sank in the North Pacific.

The Seamanship Trophy, which recognizes extraordinary seafaring skills by American mariners, will be presented during a luncheon on January 26 at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. On July 12, 2007, the containership Horizon Falcon was enroute from Guam to Yantian, China when it received a message from the U.S. Coast Guard to divert course and come to the aid of a vessel, the bulk carrier Hai Tong No. 7 carrying a cargo of logs. The storm surge of Typhoon Man-Yi had caused the Hai Tong No. 7’s cargo to shift. The vessel foundered and its Chinese crew had already been in the water for two days before any ship reached the scene.

The Horizon Falcon was first to arrive. Capt. Tom McDorr skillfully navigated his large vessel through rough seas filled with floating logs to attempt to locate and rescue survivors. A lifeboat with the chief mate and three seamen aboard was dispatched despite high winds and 24-ft. swells. One Chinese survivor was pulled from the water, but as the lifeboat was being recovered by Horizon Falcon, a large swell nearly swamped the craft while damaging its motor. The lifeboat was ordered abandoned, but its crew and the survivor were able to climb to safety up the containership’s 40-ft. pilot ladder.

A second Chinese seaman was spotted in the water near the containership. One of the vessel’s able-bodied seamen harnessed himself to the pilot’s ladder, and using a grappling hook, was able to snag and rescue the man. The Horizon Falcon, by now joined by a Navy P3 Orion aircraft and another merchant ship, continued the search for survivors, but no others were located. The containership was eventually directed to resume its voyage. The rescued Chinese seamen were delivered to the port of Yantian, where representatives of the Chinese government expressed their thanks to the captain and crew of the containership. The determined efforts and the professional and brave actions of the captain and crew of Horizon Falcon, under most difficult conditions, undoubtedly prevented the further loss of human life in the sinking of Hai Tong No. 7.

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