Article

Australian pilot receives IMO commendation for exceptional bravery at sea


published on 17 September 2021 313 -

Text and graphic by AMSA

In December 2020, Australian Pilot Captain Ritesh Bhamaria was expertly piloting oil tanker MT Godam through the Torres Strait in adverse weather conditions when he and the vessel crew sighted a distant hand waving for help in the rough sea.

That movement turned out to be an uncle and nephew—both local fishermen—who had been clinging to the floating debris for close to 17 hours following the sinking of their boat, with no access to an emergency beacon or other survival equipment.

Captain Bhamaria recalled his surprise at seeing the two stranded men but wasted no time in taking action.

They struggled to maintain sight of the people, losing sight of them three times. Finally, when they caught sight of them again, the crew realised the two men were being circled by hammerhead sharks.

Rather than risking the ship’s crew, by launching a rescue boat in the prevailing weather conditions and potentially not getting to the stranded fishermen in time, the pilot made the tough decision to turn the 251-metre ship around in restricted waters.

“Without hesitation, I turned the ship to the side where I had clearance,” Mr Bhamaria said.

“The two biggest issues were maintaining sight of the two men while we turned the ship around and then approached them safely—a huge ship arriving alongside a piece of wood with two men holding on, poses quite a risk to their safety.

“We couldn’t stop the ship near the survivors—the ship’s propeller would have posed too great a risk to the two men and the reef just behind them.

“On the first turn, we dropped a smoke marker with a lifebuoy as close as 20 metres from the survivors.

“The fishermen were then able to cling to the buoy, while the smoke helped the approaching rescue craft home in on the location of the survivors. Meanwhile the movement of the ship in the water deterred the sharks away from the men.

“Then we circled again, keeping the reef behind us, this time with the intention of picking them up.  I manoeuvred the ship to within a distance of 1–1.5 meters of the survivors floating on the wooden plank, dropping the speed of the ship to a bare minimum—about two knots with the propellers stopped. We managed to get the uncle out of the water first. But by the time we were trying to get his nephew out, the rescue helicopter arrived, so we lowered him back into the water, so the helicopter could retrieve him safely.”

 

It was a harrowing ordeal for the survivors, but ultimately Captain Bhamaria’s quick-thinking and brave actions saved the lives of the two men.

These actions have now earned him a prestigious Certificate of Commendation from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as part of their Exceptional Bravery at Sea Award.

The Exceptional Bravery at Sea Award provides international recognition for those who, at the risk of losing their own life, perform the acts of exceptional bravery and display outstanding courage. Without Captain Bhamaria’s decision making and exceptional navigation skills, these two fishermen would have endured an entirely different outcome. 

AMSA Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley said international recognition of this level of bravery from one of Australia’s marine pilots is a significant accomplishment.

“Captain Bhamaria and the ship’s crew displayed outstanding seamanship, coming together to the aid of others,” Mr Kinley said.

“The knowledge and expertise of our marine pilots is key to the safe arrival and passage of ships bringing supplies and trade with Australia. But in this instance, Captain Bhamaria’s knowledge of the surrounding area and quick thinking allowed him to make decisions that enabled the rescue of the two men.’

“Captain Bhamaria is certainly deserving of this accolade from the IMO for his exceptional bravery.”

Humbled and thankful for the honour, Captain Bhamaria was quick to share his commendation with the wider piloting community of Australia and the master and crew of the MT Godam.

“I am grateful and appreciative that AMSA nominated me for the award,” he said.  “However, any pilot would have done the same thing, so this recognition is for the whole Australian piloting community.

“Many thanks to the master and crew of MT Godam, Reef VTS, AMSA and the shore Rescue team, because it was an all-round team effort,” he said.

The IMO Awards ceremony will take place virtually from IMO Headquarters in London on Monday 6 December

Join the conversation...

Login or register to write comments and join the discussion!
LV
Louis Vest Houston Pilots, USA
on 17 September 2021, 17:22 UTC

BZ
0

Read more...

Article Pilot transfer arrangements by AMSA

by Marine-Pilots.com - published on 18 November 2019

This notice reminds shipowners, operators, masters, crews, recognised organisations, marine pilots and pilotage providers of the obligation to provide safe pilot transfer arrangements.

0

Article AMSA has published the first marine incident annual report

published on 20 October 2020

AMS has released the annual report of marine incidents reported from regulated Australian and foreign flagged vessels in Australian waters. It includes an analysis of reported marine incidents during 2016 to 2019, with a focus on 2019 data.

0

Article Latest AMSA Notice Emphasises The Need For Safe Pilot Transfer Arrangements

published on 18 February 2022

AMSA notes with concern that since November 2017 several pilots’ lives have been placed at risk, in six separate incidents where man ropes have parted, or its securing point has failed. In addition, AMSA regularly receives reports and complaints about non-compliant pilot transfer arrangements

1

Article A Day in the life of a Mentor Pilot

by North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation - published on 1 November 2021

Luke Sorensen began his career as a Marine Pilot in 2011. Now the Manager of Pilotage Services, North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP), he mentors Pilots moving through the NQBP Training Framework to become competent and confident in bringing ships into berth at our ports. Luke explains the process of mentoring.

1

Article NAUTITEC Shiphandling Simulator and Training Centre, Germany

published on 9 February 2021

NAUTITEC as a maritime simulation and training centre offers various services for shipping companies, port authorities, captains and for pilots and tug crews.

1

Video Salvage operation EEMSLIFT HENDRIKA

published on 8 April 2021

Video footage from the Florø rescue helicopter.

0

Article Marine Accident Investigation Branch (UK): Report 2020

published on 14 June 2021

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) examines and investigates all types of marine accidents to or on board UK vessels worldwide, and other vessels in UK territorial waters. Here is the annual report of 2020.

0

Article IMPA received the 2022 SAFETY4SEA Initiative Award

published on 20 October 2022

IMPA received the 2022 SAFETY4SEA Initiative Award for conducting annually its ‘Pilot Ladder Safety Campaign’ with the objective of reporting pilots’ experiences of ladders and boarding equipment to the IMO and the wider shipping community.

1

Video Threefer, three deliveries in a row. 25 mph winds made for a choppy river.

published on 2 January 2021

The pilot boat is a 1979 Gladding and Hearn, think of it as a 70s muscle car on water. The Deep-V hull does a great job of cutting through the waves while giving us good speed and maneuverability. On to the next one...
Some parts are sped up to fit 60 seconds.

0

Video Poseidon pilot boat - scale model RC boat

published on 17 June 2021

Poseidon on the model boat pond in Vallensbæk, Denmark.
Poseidon is a pilot boat based on a kit but modified to match the real pilot boat "Poseidon". The entire super structure is scratch built with very detailed interior that this video doesn't do justice. The real boat is based in Hornbæk, Denmark. The builder has made many visits to this boat to get all the details right.
Builder and owner: Ole Bødker
Link to Vallensbæk model boat club (Danish): http://www.vallensbaekmodelskibsklub.dk

0