New footage released online has shown the risks that two Houston Pilots took to tackle a fire when the ship they were piloting broke down and burst into flames after a collision with mooring dolphins.
The two members of the Houston Pilots in the US received the 2017 International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea after they averted the major tragedy.
The IMO reported that pilots Captain Michael G. McGee and Captain Michael C. Phillips showed “decisiveness, dedication and ship-handling expertise” after tackling a towering wall of burning fuel that surrounded them for nearly 90 minutes.
Both pilots stayed at their stations on the bridge of the ship during the fire, which occurred shortly after midnight on September 6, 2016, when Captain McGee and Captain Phillips were piloting the 247 meter-long tanker Aframax River in the Houston Ship Channel in the US.
A sudden mechanical failure of the engines resulted in a loss of control of the ship and led to it striking two mooring dolphins.
The impact ruptured the fuel tank resulting in 88,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilling from the ship and engulfing it in flames that were 60 to 90 metres high.
A fire then spread across the channel and threatened other tank ships and nearby water-front facilities, enveloping the area in thick toxic smoke.
Captain McGee managed to maneuver the tanker away from surrounding ships and facilities.
Captain Phillips coordinated communications and firefighting efforts with the United States Coast Guard and local fireboats while also managing to extinguish a fire on the port bridge wing.
No one died as a direct result of their actions.