AFRAS AMVER Award and Special AMVER Award are the two most honorable awards about sea rescue since the 1990s
The Association for Rescue at Sea is an awarding organization established in 1976 by the United States Coast Guard and OBs of the United States Navy. Since 1982, they have awarded the AFRAS Gold Medal for Heroism for improving the morale of the US Coast Guard and the AMVER award for commercial vessels that have contributed to the rescue of the sea since 1996.
MOL announced on September 14 that its loose coal carrier TUMISAN MARU received the AFRAS AMVER AWARD at the AFRAS Annual Awards Ceremony for 2015 held in Washington, DC, USA on September 9.
AFRAS tested that TOHMISAN MARU (the ship’s name: CS SUNSHINE) rescued 24 Chinese crew members of a cargo ship in distress on January 20, 2014, about 700 km west of Guam in the United States. This was the award.
The Association sponsors the AFRAS AMVER AWARD for Rescue at Sea, an award organization organized by the U.S. Coast Guard and OBs of the U.S. Navy.
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AFRAS Annual Awards Ceremony for AFRAS AMVER Awards in 2015.
The Association sponsors FRAS AMVER AWARD for Rescue at Sea, Inc., an award organization organized by the US Coast Guard and OBs of the US Navy and is most prominent in the previous year. This is a commendation for commercial ships that have saved lives.
Figure 1. Award ceremony
On January 20, 2014, TOHMISAN MARU (the ship’s name: CS SUNSHINE) rescued 24 Chinese crew members of a cargo ship in distress at sea about 700 km west of Guam in the United States AFRAS. They gave this award in recognition of everybody.
SPECIAL AMVER AWARDs
During the refugee crisis in 2015, a sea volunteer rescue team comprising 2,000 people and a human rights activist who provided a haven for thousands of vulnerable refugees who arrived on the coast of Greece jointly won the 2016 Special AMVER Award.
Figure 2. Award ceremony
Konstantinos Mitragas represented the Greek Sea Rescue Team, and Efi Latsoudi represented the village of Picpa. Because of the volunteer service that tried in the refugee crisis on the coast of Greece in 2015, he was selected for the Nansen Refugee Award: The Greek Sea Rescue Team worked tirelessly to rescue refugees and migrants trapped at sea; Effie cared for those vulnerable refugees and migrants who arrived on the Greek island of Lesvos.
The award recognizes the selfless dedication of volunteers in the past year, the help and support from people in Europe and around the world, and the support of communities that continue to welcome and accept refugees and help refugees integrate locally.
Their Works and Efforts
In 2015, over 850,000 people arrived in Greece, and over 500,000 of them came to Lesvos. In October 2015, as the situation in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq continued to cause people to be displaced, the peak number of people arriving on Lesvos has reached over 10,000 per day. Unfortunately, over 270 people were killed in the Greek sea in the past year.
Referring to the nominees for this year’s Nansen Refugee Award, UNHCR High Commissioner Philippe Grandi said: “Last year thousands of people fled from conflict and persecution. They desperately rushed to Europe just to seek safety. Many people risked their lives in fragile ships and boats. The risks during the journey often exceeded Imagine.”
“The Greek Maritime Rescue Team and Effie Ratsouti witnessed the humanitarian situation on the Greek coast. They both refused to wait and see. We should award them the Nansen Refugee Award. Their actions show the public’s attitude towards refugees and migrants in Greece and throughout Europe. In response to the emergency, thousands of people united with those who were forced to flee. Many communities from all over the world generously donated their money and opened their hearts and doors for refugees.”
This Greek sea rescue team composed of over 2,000 people has been carrying out rescue work in the Aegean Sea and Greek islands since 1978. In 2015, this team of volunteers worked 24 hours a day and responded to countless rescue requests received at midnight. During this time, they completed 1,035 rescue missions, successfully saved 2,500 lives, and helped over 7,000 people get out of trouble and regain safety.
Provide a Safer Enviroment
On Lesvos, Picpa Village provides a safe and friendly living environment for the most vulnerable refugees, including women who have unfortunately lost their children while sheltering at sea, and adults and children with disabilities. Effie Ratsouti successfully incorporated a children’s summer camp into a team of volunteers who provided asylum for refugees with the help of local agencies in 2012. The daily housing capacity of Picpa Village is only 150 people, but they still successfully accept 600 refugees every day. And distributed over 2,000 meals.
Figure 3. Sea Rescue Team
As the secretary-general and captain of the Greek Sea Rescue Team, Constantinos is also an entrepreneur in Thessaloniki, Greece. He said that 2015 was the hardest year our maritime rescue team experienced. We are all living in fear this year. There are too many casualties. Many of them are children. These touch and affect us the most.
“I believe that it is a certain force in our hearts that urges us to move forward and become volunteer workers. I can say that our volunteers are heroes. No matter where the rescue comes from and what beliefs we hold, we must go there as a rescue organization. Help them. In times of crisis, they must unite us.”
As a professional psychologist and human rights activist, Effie Ratsutti is also one of the driving forces behind Picpa Village. She said that Pikpa Village started with a dream-a refugee can get a place where fair and decent treatment. We envision Picpa Village as a community for everyone. Volunteers and refugees are all members of this community.
“For me, helping refugees is nothing special. It is something we must do. Out of solidarity, volunteers from Greece and all over the world come to this small island every day. It is something that flows naturally in our blood. Europe can have a very humane and great side, it can achieve miracles, and this is a miracle.”
The announcement of this year’s Nansen Refugee Award coincides with the UNHCR’s “Stand with the Refugees” signing petition, calling on governments to unite and find a common solution to the current global refugee crisis. As of now, there are over 70,000 signatures worldwide.
The UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award recognizes people who have contributed to forcibly displaced persons. Eleanor Roosevelt, Graça Machel, and Luciano Pavarotti are all recipients of this honor. They held the 2016 award ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland on October 3rd. Speakers and performers at the ceremony will include Senegalese singer Baaba Maal, 2015 Global Poetry Contest winner Emi Mahmoud, professional dance team The Grey People, and BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet (Lyse Doucet).
Other Similar Awards
Special Courage Award
On December 6, in London, the United Kingdom, the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization Lin Jize (left) presented the “Special Courage Award at Sea” to Zhong Haifeng, a senior diver from the Guangzhou Salvage Bureau, China. Photo by Xinhua News Agency reporter Han Yan.
Figure 4. Award Ceremony
Xinhua News Agency, London, December 7th (Reporter Liang Xizhi) Zhong Haifeng, a senior diver from the Guangzhou Salvage Bureau, China, won the highest award of the year 2018 from the International Maritime Organization in London on the evening of the 6th-the “Special Courage Award at Sea”.
The International Maritime Organization held its 2018 awards ceremony during the 100th session of the Maritime Safety Committee. Amid the applause of all participants, Lin Jize, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, awarded Zhong Haifeng a medal.
At the end of November 2017, Zhong Haifeng, who has 28 years of rescue and salvage experience, together with his team members, successfully rescued the 7 crew members who were trapped in the underwater cargo hold for over 36 hours from the sinking “Jinze Vessel” in the Lingding Channel of the Pearl River Estuary. It created a miracle of shipwreck rescue and was unanimously praised by the International Maritime Organization Review Committee.
The Award Speech
Zhong Haifeng said in his acceptance speech that the award granted to him by the International Maritime Organization is not only an encouragement to his team and individual, but it is also an affirmation of China’s salvage business. He must save the lives of others and give hope to those in distress.
On December 6th, in London, England, Zhong Haifeng, a senior diver from the Guangzhou Salvage Bureau of China, gave a speech at the award ceremony. Photo by Xinhua News Agency reporter Han Yan.
Zhong Haifeng said in an interview with reporters after winning the award: “It is fake to not be afraid of danger. But whenever I see the desire to survive and the joy in my eyes when rescued, I feel that I should grab every minute and every second. Give the hope of life to those in distress earlier and leave the danger of death to yourself.”
The “Special Courage at Sea Award” is an important award in international maritime affairs established by the International Maritime Organization. It is selected once a year to commend those who have taken extraordinarily courageous actions in the face of life-threatening situations and are rescued at sea with extraordinary courage. People who live, prevent, or minimize damage to the marine environment. 22 candidates recommended by 15 IMO member states and 2 non-governmental international organizations took part in the 2018 awards selection.
Global Sea Rescue Organizations
The rescue operation complies with international laws and national laws, but many governments have repeatedly blocked NGOs from launching maritime rescues. The seizure of Sea-Watch 4 is just one example. Sea Watch 4 is the fifth NGO search and rescue ship detained by Italian authorities in several months. On October 10, the search and rescue ship Alan Kurdi, operated by an NGO, was detained twice in Sicily in six months. On October 22, the search and rescue vessel Louise Michel, funded by Banksy, announced that the vessel’s registration had been questioned and that it could not leave the port.
The Mediterranean is the deadliest sea escape route in the world, but EU countries have weakened search and rescue support in the Mediterranean on the one hand, and signed an immigration agreement on the other, promising to adopt a more humane immigration policy. The two-run counter to it, which is quite ironic. If EU countries refuse to take responsibility, we should least allow NGO search and rescue operations.
EU member states have decided to ignore their legal and moral responsibilities to save lives and abuse bureaucratic measures to restrict the use of rescue resources. The recent incidents in the Mediterranean have revealed that the actions of various countries will bring fatal consequences. Since Sea-Watch 4 was detained, at least 80 people have died in shipwrecks off the coast of Libya and Italy. Earlier, there was a ship with 12 people drifting in the Mediterranean for 10 days. They listed five people as missing or dead afterward. However, the authorities did not start the search and rescue until 4 days after receiving the distress signal.
Although the EU recognizes that Libya is not a safe destination for repatriation, it still funds and trains the Libyan Coast Guard. On October 8, Italy and the European Union-sponsored two ships repaired by the Libyan Coast Guard to return to Libya. The two ships will arrest and repatriate immigrants who fled to Europe by sea.
Since the beginning of 2021, at least 506 people have been killed in the Mediterranean and nearly 9,000 have been forcibly returned to Libya. To give another example: After Sea-Watch 4 completed rescue operations and helped receive rescuers from other ships, it carried 354 people. The Italian authorities accused the ship of insufficient life-saving equipment to be used by all crew members. Their claims completely ignored the International Maritime Search and Rescue Convention.
The captain must rescue persons in distress at sea. We believe that they should condemn the unreasonable explanation of the Italian authorities. They called another rescue ship for rescue in Malta’s search and rescue waters that day. Afterward, the Maltese authorities instructed Sea-Watch 4 to help receive the rescue of the ship. The Italian Coast Guard also dispatched several ships to the scene and received 49 weaker people, while Sea-Watch 4 received the remaining 152 survivors.