Extraordinary Acts of Bravery at Sea Recognised at National Awards Ceremony (20/10/15)
Sailing star Sir Ben Ainslie Praises Heroes of Maritime Charity Honours
Outstanding acts of skill and gallantry during air and sea rescues have been recognised at a national awards ceremony held by the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society on Wednesday 21 October at Fishmongers’ Hall in London.
Among this year’s winners were the crew of ‘Rescue 01’ of 1564 Flt, 905 EAW, Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands, comprising of Flt Lt Ian Campbell, Captain; Flt Lt Tom Greene, Co-Pilot; Sgt Mike Boissier-Wyles, Radar/Winch Operator and Sgt Dan Allanson, Winchman, for the outstanding air/sea rescue of a fisherman lost overboard off the coast of the Falkland Islands. Sgt Allanson was also awarded an Individual Commendation for his specific role in the rescue.
Other award recipients included skipper of Fishing Vessel Cesca, Jake Bowman-Davies, who, at the age of 16 successfully orchestrated the evacuation of his sinking fishing vessel in order to save the lives of his crew and Chris Macdonald of Solent Towage, who rescued a crew member trapped inside a capsized vessel.
Finally, the Society also presented awards to two of its Honorary Agents, Mr John Wason and Superintendent Tracey Stephens, for their dedicated and outstanding service to the Charity.
Sir Ben Ainslie, who holds the title of most successful sailor in Olympic history and who has first-hand experience of how volatile the sea can be, said: “Since 1851, the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society has been making awards for skill and gallantry at sea. This year’s award citations are impressive. For much longer, since 1839, they have been financially helping fishermen, mariners and their dependants who have fallen on hard times. This charity does great work for the maritime community and deserves your support.”
Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society Chief Executive, Commodore Malcolm Williams, said: “Each year we continue to be humbled and impressed by the incredible feats of skill, determination and courage demonstrated by the recipients of these awards. Despite modern technology, these awards highlight the fact we still very much rely on the courage and determination of individuals in emergency situations at sea. The skill and gallantry of these crews and individuals are second to none. They exemplify the professionalism and courageous qualities of all those who risk their own lives to protect those in danger at sea and their efforts should be recognised.”
The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society’s primary purpose is to provide financial support to seafarers and their dependants in need. Retirement and injury, leading to lost earnings can prevent mariners and their families making ends meet. In the last 12 months, the Charity received 650 new applications for assistance and helped in over 2,200 cases of need, amounting to an expenditure of £1.4 million.
Over its 176-year history the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society has helped hundreds of thousands of mariners and their dependants, including during times of conflict. As an example the number of people the Society assisted as a direct result of WW2 are quite remarkable – and this included fishermen and their dependants: 60,600 seamen; 6,600 widows; 8,000 orphans and 4,100 aged parents.
To find out more information about the Charity, visit the Who We Are page, our Facebook Page or follow @ShipwreckedSoc on Twitter.
For further information please contact Ellie Smith or Mike Renton at Acceleris Marketing Communications on EllieS@acceleris-mc.com or MikeR@acceleris-mc.com / 0845 4567 251
AWARDS FOR SKILL AND GALLANTRY 2015
Edward and Maisie Lewis Award for an outstanding air/sea rescue
On 28 July 2014, the crew of ‘Rescue 01’ were tasked to go to the assistance of a fisherman lost overboard from the fishing vessel Venturer, 60 nautical miles NE of East Falkland. Given the immediate need to recover the fisherman before hypothermia set in, and having taken stock of the atrocious weather and pitch black night, ‘R01’ a RAF Sea King HAR 3 of 1564 Flt, 905 EAW, Mount Pleasant launched at 1940. On departure, Flt Lt Ian Campbell (Captain) immediately recognised that there was no prospect of a direct over-land transit due to the low cloud, high terrain and freezing conditions which prevented him from climbing the aircraft. He took an easterly over-water route working closely with the Radar/Winch Operator Sgt Mike Boissier-Wyles and Co-Pilot Flt Lt Tom Greene to remain clear of land before turning onto a direct track for the search area. Sgt Dan Allanson (Winchman) used the transit time to ensure that he had the cabin fully prepared and ready to receive the casualty.
En-route, information of a possible sighting of the casualty was received via a Hercules transport aircraft that was operating on-scene as a communications relay. Ian Campbell directed the radar operator to determine the open-water drift using a known point of entry into the water and this sighting. A start point 6 nm SW of the original location was determined along with a line of advance for the search. On scene at 2100 the crew encountered low cloud, torrential rain and with no ambient light the visibility was down to 200 metres. In the total darkness the night vision goggles were performing poorly and with no observable horizon, Ian Campbell was forced to fly with greater reference to instruments and rely on his searchlight.
With sea state 8 and 50 kts of wind, the probability of locating the casualty in the 45 ft swells was very low. However at 2140 on their second sweep of the area the casualty was sighted 30 metres ahead of the aircraft. With the casualty found, the Pilot decided to hover at 80 ft to allow sufficient clearance from the rapidly changing wave peaks. The standard procedure for this type of recovery at night is for the aircraft to be manoeuvred by the winch operator via autopilot with the aircraft at 50ft; but Ian Campbell recognised that the autopilot could not maintain a stable hover in the atrocious conditions and consequently elected to conduct a manual hover at a higher height than normal.
With severe sea conditions and a winching height of 80 ft, Dan Allanson showed no hesitation in leaving the aircraft to assist a casualty whose chances of being alive were assessed as slim given the length of time he had been in the near freezing water (4 degree C). On entering the water Dan was immediately submerged as changes in wave height outpaced the maximum speed of the aircraft winch. On resurfacing, the lashing spray and crashing wave peaks presented a daunting challenge. Dan Allanson’s courage in these conditions cannot be underestimated and combined with the skill of the winch operator, Mike Boissier-Wyles and Ian Campbell’s exceptional flying accuracy, he was delivered to the casualty on the first attempt.
The physical effort of man-handling a large casualty in the 45 ft swell proved to be highly demanding and with the violent wave motion the winch cable became wrapped around Dan Allanson’s legs. He was forced to release the casualty to free himself from this entanglement. In doing this and then reconnecting with the casualty and recovering him to the aircraft, Dan showed exceptional determination, strength and stamina. The physical and mental demands placed on him within this extremely violent and chilling environment were enormous. He was immersed for almost 15 minutes.
On entering the cabin and without time to recover, Dan and Mike immediately began to provide life support to the casualty. Flying through atrocious weather conditions the fisherman was delivered to King Edward Memorial Hospital, Port Stanley, at 2210 where sadly he subsequently died.
The difficulties faced by this crew go far beyond those which it is possible to train for. Indeed, the meteorological conditions experienced during this rescue were as poor as anyone could expect to encounter during an entire career in Search and Rescue. Under the calm leadership of Ian Campbell his crew demonstrated outstanding professionalism, teamwork, determination and bravery.
Sergeant Dan Allanson QGM (Winchman)
Sergeant Allanson was the Winchman on ‘Recue 01’ an RAF Sea King of 1564 Flt, 905 EAW, Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands when it launched at 1940 local on the night of 28 July in response to a call for assistance to locate a man lost overboard from the fishing vessel Venturer, 60 nautical miles NE of East Falkland. The weather was atrocious and it was pitch black.
Sgt Dan Allanson used the transit time to ensure that he had the cabin fully prepared and ready to receive the casualty.
Arriving on scene a start point 6 nautical miles SW of the original location where the man was lost overboard was established and the search began. With low cloud, torrential rain and no ambient light the visibility was down to 200 metres.
With sea state 8 and 50 kts of wind the probability of locating the casualty in the 45 ft swell was very low. However, on their second sweep of the area the casualty was sighted 30 metres ahead of the aircraft at 2140. With the casualty found, the Pilot decided to hover at 80 ft to allow sufficient clearance from the rapidly changing wave peaks. The standard procedure for this type of recovery at night is for the aircraft to be manoeuvred by the winch operator via autopilot with the aircraft at 50ft; but in the atrocious conditions a stable autopilot hover was not going to be possible and so the pilot elected to conduct a manual hover at a higher height than normal.
With severe sea conditions and a winching height of 80 ft, Sgt Allanson showed no hesitation in leaving the aircraft to assist a casualty whose chances of being alive were assessed as slim given the length of time he had been in the near freezing water (4 degree C). On entering the water Dan was immediately submerged as changes in wave height outpaced the maximum speed of the aircraft winch. On resurfacing, the lashing spray and crashing wave peaks presented a daunting challenge. Dan Allanson’s courage in these conditions should not be underestimated and combined with the skill of the winch operator, Mike Boissier-Wyles and Ian Campbell’s exceptional flying accuracy he was delivered to the casualty on the first attempt.
The physical effort of man-handling a large casualty in the 45 ft swell proved to be highly demanding and with the violent wave motion the winch cable became wrapped around Dan Allanson’s legs. He was forced to release the casualty to free himself from this entanglement. In doing this and then reconnecting with the casualty and recovering him to the aircraft Dan showed exceptional determination, strength and stamina. The physical and mental demands placed on Sgt Allanson within this exceptionally violent and chilling environment were enormous. He was immersed for almost 15 minutes.
On entering the cabin and without time to recover, Dan Allanson and Mike Boissier-Wyles immediately began to provide life support to the casualty. Flying through atrocious weather conditions the fisherman was delivered to King Edward Memorial Hospital, Port Stanley where unfortunately he subsequently died.
Jake Bowman-Davies, Skipper of FV Cesca
Leadership, cool headedness and excellent judgement prevented loss of life and ensured that four men were rescued from their sinking vessel
On the night of 12 February 2015 FV Cesca (M21), a 15 metre crabber with a four man crew ranging in age from 16 to 30, from Milford Haven, was en route to Conwy when she started taking on water.
It was a dark, clear, cold night with an air temperature of 2 degrees C. The wind was SSE at 20-30kts with moderate to rough seas.
One of the crew woke the skipper, Jake Bowman-Davies, 16, to alert him to the fact that they were taking on water. He went to the bridge to assess the situation and at 2222 called the Holyhead Coast Guard to alert them to the situation and to request assistance. The vessel was 8 nautical miles SW of Bardsey Island off the Lleyn Peninsula.
The RAF SAR helicopter, ‘Rescue 122’, was scrambled from RAF Valley, Anglesey, and reached the Cesca within 40 minutes by which time she was 2.5 nautical miles NW of Bardsey.
When the helicopter arrived they directed FV Cesca to turn to a course that would enable them to lower the winchman and a pump to the deck. As Cesca altered course to the new heading the engine stalled. Weighing up the situation the skipper decided that with the continuing ingress of water it was time to abandon ship. He ordered the release of the liferaft and the crew to abandon ship. The liferaft did not fully inflate so they were exposed to the elements. The four men were then recovered to the helicopter and taken to Bangor hospital.
The abandoned vessel turned over and sank at 0033.
Robert Bowyer, Senior Maritime Operations Officer at Holyhead, on watch at the time said that, “It is often a difficult judgement call for any Captain to call for assistance and even more difficult to leave his vessel, which is his livelihood. By calling for assistance when he did the Captain of the Cesca gave the rescue services time to get on scene and try and save his vessel. Although they did have to abandon ship he and his crew are safe and well this morning.”
Skipper Jake‘s leadership, cool headedness and excellent judgement ensured the safety of his crew: impressive in one so young.
Mr Chris Macdonald of Solent Towage
Just after 2000 on 30 March 2015, ‘Asterix’, one of Solent Towage’s tugs operating at the Fawley Marine Terminal in Southampton, capsized during a towing operation.
There was a strong wind blowing, sea conditions were choppy and the water was cold.
One of the two crew members on board was trapped inside the wheelhouse as the tug was towed upside down by the ship it had been assisting, and then remained inverted for just over one hour before she flipped on to her port side, exposing her starboard side wheelhouse windows just above the waterline.
At this point the missing man was spotted inside the wheelhouse, about 5 metres away from where some of the company’s men were stood debating what to do next to locate the missing man.
Chris Macdonald, a Solent Towage Seaman, leapt into the water, taking with him a sledge hammer and swam to the upturned tug. He scrambled up onto the side of the wheelhouse and whilst standing on the window, smashed it so that he dropped into the wheelhouse and was able to extricate his colleague to safety. The vessel sank a matter of seconds later.
Without Chris’ prompt action that night their colleague would have died. There was very little of an air pocket remaining in the wheelhouse and if the vessel had sunk with him still inside he would definitely have been lost. He was hypothermic and barely conscious when recovered from the water.
Chris Macdonald’s heroic action saved a life.
The Lord Lewin Awards 2015
The Lord Lewin Award is for outstanding service to the Society
Superintendent Tracey Stephens – Hull
Superintendent Tracey Stephens has been our Honorary Agent in Hull since 2010. In that time she has supported many hundreds of fishermen and their dependants: currently 260 beneficiaries of ours. Over the past three years alone she has sent us 187 new applications for assistance, and has completed 94 reviews on our behalf. That support ranges from helping them to get grants for essential household items, advice on benefits and debts, to taking funerals and seeking charitable assistance. It is a big full time job which she does with diligence and compassion.
Tracey comes from a Hull fishing family and has a natural affinity with our beneficiaries. She sees poverty, loneliness, desperation, injury, illness and the struggles of everyday life. Positive, cheerful, thoughtful and determined – she doesn’t take no for an answer. It is evident that she is trusted and respected by the community; a lifeline for those in need. Her motivation is to help people and when Tracey is on your side she brings hope. Her work on behalf of fishermen, mariners and their dependants is deserving of our recognition.
John Wason – Lyme Regis
Mr John Wason of Lyme Regis is 80 years young and has been our Honorary Agent for 24 years. He started his working life at the age of 15 as a farmer on the Somerset Levels but was drawn to the sea and fishing and so moved to the Dorset coast where he is still fishing – for crab and lobster. His three sons and two grandsons are full time fishermen too. He looks after our large collecting mine in Lyme Regis which generates in the region of £400 each year and he recently generously donated £200 to replace lost funds following a break-in to the mine. By maintaining the mine he advertises our existence to donors and potential beneficiaries; the mines raise a steady and important stream of income for the Society. His efforts are greatly appreciated and deserving of our recognition.