IMO awarded the 2018 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery At Sea to Zhong Haifeng. Mr. Zhong is a rescue diver from China who made a series of underwater dives to rescue three people, when the cargo ship 'MV Jin Ze Lun' sank after colliding with another ship in Guangzhou Port, China, in the early morning of 27 November 2017.
This annual Award was established by IMO to provide international recognition for those who, at the risk of losing their own life, perform acts of exceptional bravery, displaying outstanding courage in attempting to save life at sea or in attempting to prevent or mitigate damage to the marine environment.
The judges decided that the rescue merited the highest award, after China nominated Mr. Zhong. The decision was endorsed by the IMO Council at its 120th session in London, which took place from 2 to 5 July.
After 'Jin Ze Lun' sank 14 crew were on board, of which two were immediately rescued by local maritime authorities, however 12 remained missing. The bulk carrier was lying on the seabed, in the main channel into the port, while a strong current would make the underwater search and rescue operation extremely difficult.
Mr. Zhong , senior diver and deputy of the Engineering Team of Guangzhou Salvage was put in charge of the search for survivors. After 36 hours of dives, six survivors were found trapped in the cargo hold. Mr. Zhong instructed his team to replace oxygen to the cabin and talk to the trapped survivors, to calm them.
Mr. Zhong then dived down to the cargo hold with a teammate, bringing scuba diving equipment for those trapped. In the afternoon of 28 November, Mr. Zhong dived down six times, teaching survivors how to put on and use scuba diving equipment and rescued three of them in the space of one hour.
The 2018 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea will be presented during an IMO Awards ceremony, which will take place on 6 December 2018 at IMO Headquarters in London.
Last week, IMO announced that the International Maritime Prize for 2017 is to be awarded to Mrs. Birgit Sølling Olsen, former Deputy Director-General of the Danish Maritime Authority, for her contribution to the work and objectives of IMO and to the international maritime community.