The Association for Rescue at Sea, Inc. (AFRAS) will hold its annual award ceremony and reception on 30 September 2010. The event will take place on Capitol Hill in Washington, D. C. and will be co-hosted by the Honorable Howard Coble, co-chairman, U.S. Congressional Coast Guard Caucus. This year the AFRAS Gold Medal will officially be renamed the AFRAS Vice Admiral Thomas R. Sargent Gold Medal Award. Vice Admiral Sargent served the United States and mariners throughout the world during a long and distinguished Coast Guard career of almost 40 years, and was Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard from 1970 until his retirement in 1974. VADM Sargent later became the first president of AFRAS and the creator of the AFRAS Gold Medal Award. Vice Admiral Sargent passed away in May of this year.
AFRAS will award the Gold medal, a Silver medal, and the Amver (Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System) plaque for outstanding rescues made in 2009. The AFRAS VADM Thomas R. Sargent Gold Medal Award and a cash prize will be presented to Salvador Carire, Aviation Survival Technician First Class, US Coast Guard; the Silver Medal and a cash prize will be awarded to the coxswain and crew of USCG Auxiliary vessel AMYJULIE; and the Amver plaque will go to the captain and crew of M/V ANDES.
AFRAS Vice Admiral Thomas R. Sargent GOLD MEDAL
(Presented annually to an enlisted member of the United States Coast Guard for an act of extraordinary bravery during a rescue at sea.)
Aviation Survival Technician First Class Salvador Carire of US Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City will receive the prestigious AFRAS Gold Medal for his heroic life-saving actions on the night of 23-24 December 2009.
On that night, the Coast Guard received a distress signal from the 38-foot fishing vessel Alisha Marie. The vessel had rolled over after being hit by a rogue wave, automatically inflating the vessel’s liferaft. The sole survivor of the incident, wearing only a t-shirt and shorts swam out of the wreckage and climbed into the raft as the Alisha Marie slipped beneath the waves taking two victims with her.
Meanwhile, Petty Officer Carire and his crew launched their helicopter into the stormy night after a first helicopter returned from the scene for fuel, reporting a debris field spotted 36 nautical miles southeast of Barnegat Light, New Jersey. Arriving on scene amidst decreased visibility, high wind and confused seas, the crew began to search for survivors. As his helicopter neared the limit of its fuel endurance Petty Officer Carire noticed a faint flashing glow in the water. He directed the pilots toward the light and deployed into the frigid water when he noticed an overturned liferaft.
Carire swam 50 yards to the raft, occasionally losing sight of it as he slowly closed the distance. Once at the raft, he realized that he could not access the inside while it was inverted. After several attempts at righting the raft in the high winds and rough seas, Carire succeeded only to find that the zipper was lodged and he could not get inside. Cutting through the raft with a knife, petty officer Carire discovered a barely conscious, hypothermic man. Carire signaled the helicopter to return for pick-up and deftly maneuvered the 280-pound fisherman out of the raft and into the rescue basket.
Now experiencing early stages of hypothermia himself, Carire stayed in the water until the aircrew recovered the fisherman and returned the hoist hook to the water. Once aboard the aircraft, Petty Officer Carire utilized his emergency medical training, treating the survivor and keeping him conscious while questioning him about other potential survivors.
Petty Officer Carire’s courageous and heroic actions were instrumental in saving the life of the fisherman and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.
AFRAS SILVER MEDAL
(Presented to a Coast Guard Auxiliarist(s) who displays extraordinary bravery during a rescue at sea.)
An AFRAS Silver medal will be awarded to US Coast Guard Auxiliarists Robert M. Joseph, Leo G. Lake, Paul G. Sadeck and Rodney P. Thomas for their heroic actions in the performance of duty while serving aboard Auxiliary vessel Amyjulie.
While patrolling in Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts the morning of 26 August 2009, the crew of Amyjulie spotted a white 17-foot center console vessel which was submerged to the gunnels. The boat had been swamped in the four-foot rolling seas and 25 knot winds. On board were two men crouched in waist deep water with life jackets hanging improperly around their necks. One of the boaters spoke only Spanish and the other broken English. Fortunately, Rodney Thomas, a trainee on the Auxiliary vessel spoke to them in Spanish and was able to understand that there was a third man missing in the water.
The Auxiliary crew contacted Coast Guard Station Menemsha and was directed to remove the two men from the boat and continue to search for the third victim while the Coast Guard boat made its way to the area in the rough seas. The only information the Auxiliarists had was that the man had fallen off the boat “near a red buoy.” The crew knew that the nearest red buoy was nearly 1.25 nautical miles southwest – directly into the oncoming waves.
The Amyjulie headed for the buoy and spotted the third man, near exhaustion, with his left arm around a child’s orange life jacket and a cushion tucked under his right arm. They threw him a life ring and pulled him aboard – conscious, but lethargic, shivering and holding his chest in pain. The crew transported the three victims to shore where the Fairhaven Fire Department ambulance met them and took the victim with chest pains to the hospital.
The coxswain and crew of Amyjulie are most heartily commended for their heroic and skillful actions which resulted in rescuing the three men in peril.
AFRAS AMVER AWARD
(Recognizes an extraordinary contribution of seamen in ships at sea to the safety of their fellow mariners.)
AFRAS will present its Amver plaque to the captain and crew of M/V Andes, a Greek-flagged tanker managed by the Tsakos Group for the rescue of seven Ecuadorian fishermen on 5 June, 2009.
En route to Esmeraldas to load product, the captain of Andes was notified by the US Coast Guard through the Amver system of an Ecuadorian fishing vessel that had sunk 170 miles off the Columbia Ecuador coast. A Coast Guard aircraft dropped liferafts and survival equipment to the seven fishermen in the water and circled over the area to direct the tanker to the location.
The master of the Andes quickly mustered the crew and turned his ship in the direction of the sinking fishing boat. Within two hours of being notified, crewmen on the Greek tanker observed flashing lights near the distress position. The master expertly maneuvered the tanker alongside the life rafts and the crew began rescue operations. Due to the elderly crew in the lifeboats the master readied a rescue boat in case they were unable to climb the high freeboard. But with the help of Andes crewmen, all survivors were able to make the transfer between the life rafts and tanker.
The Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System (Amver), sponsored by the United States Coast Guard, is a unique, computer-based, and voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea. AFRAS commends the expert actions of the captain and crew of Andes for their roll in this dramatic rescue.