imo bravery award 1950ae

Posted on July 23, 2019 - Courtesy of The Maritime Executive

Petty Officer Michael W. Kelly, Aviation Survival Technician Second Class, of the U.S. Coast Guard's Air Station Cape Cod has been selected to receive the 2019 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea.

Kelly, a rescue swimmer, will receive the award for his courage, perseverance and skill in rescuing four survivors from a life raft, in extremely high winds and heavy seas on November 14, 2018.

On that stormy day, the crew of the rescue helicopter CG6032 was directed to provide assistance to the sinking fishing vessel Aaron and Melissa II. The vessel's four crew members were abandoning ship in very severe weather conditions, 70 miles off the Coast of Portland, Maine.

 air station cape cod rescue fishing boat 9eb887

After taking off, the helicopter crew immediately encountered very strong turbulence and gusts up to 60 knots. Arriving on scene, the aircrew located a life raft, battered by raging seas. Kelly was immediately deployed into the cold water. Battling 20-foot waves and chasing the raft, which was constantly being blown away by 50-knot winds, he finally managed to reach the anchor line and pull himself to the life raft.

All four survivors were suffering from hypothermia. Two were unable to swim, while the flooded raft was in danger of capsizing. Kelly pulled each survivor from the raft, one by one, swimming strongly through the storm to keep them afloat. Each was lifted into the swaying rescue basket to be hoisted to safety.

After each rescue, Kelly was forced to regain lost ground, as the heavy winds continued to push the raft further away. He fought through extreme weather conditions, as well as physical and mental exhaustion, to save the lives of four seafarers.

A panel of judges decided that the rescue merited the highest award. The decision was endorsed by the IMO Council at its 122nd session in London (July 15-19).

2019 SASS Coast Guard Pic 2 web

Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael W. Kelly in action at Storm Trysail's 2019 Hands on Safety at Sea Certification class
Photo Courtesy - Maureen Koeppel

Lets go sailing.

"Alright now, this is a night start don't forget; so let's get somebody on lookout up on that bow...

Alright now, did you figure the current? For chrissake do I have to do everything? And don't forget to figure the daylight saving. What? No, you add an hour, for chrissake, can't anybody here sail a boat? What did he say? He said "turn off the engine". Oh, yeah. OK, how long 'til our start? Who's on the stopwatch? OK, you get back here outta the way and stay there.

Alright now, let's come about and get over near the committee boat. Alright, let's come about. COMIN' ABOUT! Wheres the handle, where's the handle - TAIL, willya, fer chrissake!! How's that? Take it in to the block. That's enough.

BANG! What gun was that? That was OUR GUN. Did you get that on the watch? Do you see that guy? Yeah, I see him. Alright now, we got five more minutes. Let's run the line for a second. You can't, YOU'RE ON PORT TACK. Oh, yeah, OK, let's come about again. COMIN' ABOUT! FOUR MINUTES, Well it's too crowded over here, let's get down to leeward where our air is clear.

CRASH!!!! What was that???? Well, put the stove in gimbals, for chrissake. Clean it up later, get up here. What the hell are you doing down there anyway? You can eat at home! THREE MINUTES...Did anybody center the prop? Well, center it, Charlie, don't stand there. There's a flashlight overhead in the doghouse. Well, try another one, I put all new batteries in yesterday. TWO MINUTES...Two minutes for chrissake where's the other end of the line, they got a line two miles long. We gotta come about. COMING ABOUT...OK, let it go letitgogoddamm it. Alright, get it in, get it in. It's fouled on the lifeline. DON'T JERK IT! You'll pull the goddam boat apart. Trim, trim, trim, OK, hold that. Where's the ------ing committee boat. We gotta come about again. COMING ABOUT! More turns, more turns. OK, cleat that. ONE MINUTE--Alright, slack everything, slack the jib, slack the main, SLACK THE MAIN...OK hold that ...THIRTY SECONDS...OK we're going for the line. Trim, trim, trim the main. FIFTEEN SECONDS...OK everybody up to windward....TEN SECONDS ...NINE, EIGHT, SEVEN, SIX, FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE.....for chrissake where's that gun...We're over the line. They'll never see us down here anyway. BANG! OK, we've started.

You did a great job with that stopwatch. OK, let's get these lines coiled up, I can't stand up in the cockpit. Good start, guys."