Employer: Sealanes Marine Service Inc.- Local Shipping Agency
“GALLANTRY IN ACTION”
Their heroic deed happened at 8:30 in the morning of August 15, 1991 when gigantic waves and gusty winds brought by a tropical depression which later developed into typhoon Fred (international name) turned the day of the barge personnel into a nightmare.
By August 13, both the tugboat and barge personnel were already monitoring typhoon Fred. The barge was ready for towing but even with powerful 9500 horsepower pulling capacity of the tugboat; still it took time to place it into safety.
Typhoon Fred was travelling 50 knots generating 20-22 feet swell. By August 15, the latch leading to the water desalination of that portion, resulting to a dangerous tilting of the barge. The captain of the tugboat had to order the quick release of towing gear. Signals of the barge to abandon for their own safety.
Rough seas, heavy rains and strong winds did not deter the tugboat crew to try to manoeuvre the barge which was upside down. They also sent an urgent message to the Rescue Coordinator Center in Canberra Australia which immediately deployed two choppers. They then launch rescue operation trying to get as many survivors as they could offer life vest to those who were on the ocean floor.
Aside from two choppers which immediately went to the area there were also ships who joined the rescue operations, of 195 personnel, 173 survived.
The rescue operation was played prominently in the newspaper, radio and television around the world. It also merited an article on the Readers Digest. They also received congratulatory message for their heroism, bravery and dedication to duty. Once again the events proved that Filipino seamen are one the world’s best.