2012 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea to go to Canadian and Chilean rescuers
The IMO Council has decided that the award will go to Sergeant Janick Gilbert (posthumously), Master Corporal Max Lahaye-Lemay and Master Corporal Marco Journeyman, crew members of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 424 (Transport and Rescue) Squadron, nominated by the Government of Canada; and to Mr. César Flores Flores, a rescue swimmer in the aerial detachment of the Chilean Navy, nominated by the Government of Chile.
Sergeant Janick Gilbert (posthumously), Master Corporal Max Lahaye-Lemay and Master Corporal Marco Journeyman were nominated for saving the lives of two Inuit hunters, who were stranded in an open boat in icy waters near Igloolik, Nunavut, in freezing temperatures, strong winds and 20 to 30 foot (six to nine metre) swells, during an operation that lasted five hours, in October 2011. In the rescue Serjeant Gilbert lost his life.
Details of the Chilean rescue swimmer's actions are as follows:
Mr. César Flores Flores was selected for his role as rescue swimmer in the operation to rescue the crew of the motor launch Rosita V, undertaken by the Chilean Navy aerial detachment from Puerto Montt, Fifth Naval Zone, at Locos islet, in extremely dangerous, stormy conditions.
In a northerly wind of 55 knots, and with gusts of 75 knots, low cloud, high waves and reduced visibility owing to heavy rain, the rescue helicopter located the launch stranded between two rocks. Large waves passed over the half-sunken launch, battering it against the rocks and causing it to shift abruptly.
Mr Flores Flores was lowered down and rescued seven survivors, wounded and suffering from hypothermia. As he began raising the last one from the deck, a wave caused the vessel to lurch and the winch cable became entangled with the HF antenna and the signal mast, endangering both the swimmer and the helicopter. But the rescue swimmer was able to disentangle the cable and bring the last survivor up safely.