IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea 2014

Monday, 17 November 2014 at 5 p.m.

Speech by Koji Sekimizu
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization

Excellencies, Chairman of the Council, Secretary-General Emeritus, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, 

It is my pleasure to welcome you, once again, to the annual ceremony for the IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea.

As always, we are privileged and humbled to be in the presence of those who have put their own lives on the line in some of the most dangerous situations that could be encountered at sea, in order to save others or prevent environmental catastrophe.

In a perfect world there would be no need for search and rescue, no need for environmental response, no need for brave men and women to risk their lives to save others. The principal objective of IMO is to ensure safety. The MSC is meeting today with that objective. This year's World Maritime Day theme, "IMO conventions: effective implementation", highlights the truth that if all IMO conventions were fully implemented there would be far less need for search and rescue and environmental response operations. Next year's theme – "Maritime education and training", further reinforces that truth. But as we all know, we are not there yet, and while IMO will continue to work on safety, we must call upon men and women to perform heroic acts, and, as the IMO council has decided, we want to recognize them when they do.

This year, we received 35 nominations for the bravery award, from 12 IMO Member States and one non-governmental organization in consultative status.

The panel of judges considered that Captain Andreas Kristensen and his crew of the Britannia Seaways merited the top award for their actions, in which they battled a raging fire for some 13 hours to save the lives of the 32 people on board and prevent further damage to the ship and cargo, averting a major marine pollution incident. 

You will hear more about this specific act of bravery a bit later on. And it is a great pleasure to have Captain Kristensen and his wife here today on the podium. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

And, now, to the highlight of the evening – the presentation of the awards: we will invite first those who were judged worthy of Certificates of Commendation (or their representatives) to come forward to receive them. 

After that, it will be our great honour to present the medal for the 2014 Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea.

Thank you.