Position: Third Officer
Philippine Address: Atabayan, Tigbauan, Iloilo
Employer: Magsaysay Maritime Corporation.
On February 28, 2004, the MT Bow Mariner was 50 miles off the coast of Chincoteague, Virginia, USA when it exploded and sank in less than two hours. The vessel had just unloaded cargo in New York and was on its way to Houston with a partial load of 3.5 million gallons of industrial-grade ethanol, used as a solvent in the cosmetics industry.
Third Officer Lugen T. Ortillano’s quick and cool thinking and selfless actions in the midst of life-threatening conditions, were responsible for the survival of five other crewmen. He immediately assembled crewmembers on the rear of the ship where he learned that no one had sent a distress call. Risking his life in the midst of soaring flames, Ortillano persisted in going to the bridge of the severely damaged ship and activated the vessel’s distress alarm.
He then found that all but three crewmembers had abandoned ship directly to the water. Realizing that he and his colleagues would have a little chance of survival in the frigid waters with only their life jackets, Ortillano jumped into a life raft, pulled the others in and lit flares to guide the crewmen in the water to the raft. He continued to assist the others into the raft until his arms became weak from exposure.