In 2016, 17 Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) flagged vessels were awarded Certificates of Commendation or Letters of Recognition for their involvement in rescues at sea.
While each of the rescues have required exceptional initiative and bravery on the part of the ships’ officers and crews, the sheer scale of the rescue operation in October by the crew of the oil tanker OKYROE in the Mediterranean stands out.
OKYROE is a 2004 built LR1 tanker, operated by the Athens based company Product Shipping & Trading S.A. On 21 October 2016, while on voyage from Mellitah, Libya to Thailand, Captain Gabriel Goga received an urgent request from the Italian Coast Guard requesting assistance in a massive joint rescue operation approximately 20 nautical miles off the Libyan coast. Captain Goga altered course and contacted the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center Rome for additional instructions.
Once on scene, Captain Goga and the officers and crew of OKYROE worked tirelessly with the Italian Coast Guard over a two-day period to rescue and bring on board 1,536 men, women, and children from rubber boats. OKYROE then transferred 778 of the survivors to an Italian Coast Guard ship, leaving 758 survivors still on board.
The enormity of the operation presented Captain Goga and his crew with tremendous logistical challenges including providing food, water, shelter, and medical care for the rescued individuals, as well as maintaining security on board.
Once the rescue operation was completed, Captain Goga and the crew were directed to proceed to the port of Augusta, Italy where the remaining 758 survivors were safely transferred ashore to local authorities.
This was OKYROE’S second rescue operation of the year, the first having taken place in April.
The RMI Maritime Administrator congratulated the crew of OKYROE on the crucial and lifesaving role they played in the rescue.
Click here to find out about other RMI flagged vessels involved in rescues at sea.