Two members of the Houston Pilots in the US are to receive the 2017 International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea after they averted a major tragedy when the ship they were piloting broke down and burst into flames after colliding with mooring dolphins.
The IMO reported that pilots Captain Michael G. McGee and Captain Michael C. Phillips showed “decisiveness, dedication and ship-handling expertise” when they became surrounded by “a towering wall of burning fuel” which they tackled 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 and led to the ship striking two mooring dolphins.
The impact ruptured the fuel tank and caused a spill of diesel fuel that ignited and engulfed the ship 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. A video of the fire is featured below:
The International Maritime Pilots' Association (IMPA) made the nomination.
It will be presented during a ceremony at the 30th session of the IMO Assembly in November.
The IMO Secretary-General will also recognize those involved in rescuing migrants at sea.
Merchant vessel crews will receive the commendation of the IMO Assembly through certificates of special recognition.
There have been five nominations for incidents involving the rescue of migrants at sea.
Picture featured not of actual event