Flame-defying Maritime Pilots Recognized with IMO Bravery Award

14th August 2017 / news

Two captains working for the Houston Pilots will be receiving the 2017 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea in November. The Houston Pilots serve to bring ships safely in and out of the Port of Houston. Captain Michael G. McGee and Captain Michael C. Phillips are to be honored for preventing a serious tragedy after their ship stalled and a fire erupted after a collision with mooring dolphins. The two pilots were challenged by the roaring fire for about an hour and a half. Due to their expertise, there were no fatalities or even significant damage to the piers or petrochemical facilities. In addition, their quick actions also prevented any serious marine pollution was avoided.

Just after midnight on September 6, 2016, the Captains were piloting a tanker into Houston Ship Channel. There were two pilots because of the size of the tanker. The engines failed unexpectedly, and the pilots lost control hitting two mooring dolphins in the process. A fuel tank was broken, and the spilled fuel quickly caught fire. There were flames reaching 200 to 300 feet high, and the fire spread across the channel.  The fire and the excessive smoke became a threat to other ships and the waterfront itself.  The pilots stayed at their posts on the ship’s bridge while it blazed. Captain McGee moved the tanker away from the other facilities and ships while Captain Phillips coordinated with the Coast Guard and local fireboats to put out the fire. He also used a fire extinguisher to put out a fire the port side of the bridge. Once it was finally extinguished, the pilots were suffering from minor burns and exhaustion. With the help of tugboats, Captain McGee brought the damaged tanker to a mooring facility.

The International Maritime Pilots’ Association nominated Captains McGee and Phillips for the Award, and they were chosen by the judges in July 2017. The award will be presented in November at the IMO Assembly’s 30th session. The award is given annually to those who perform brave acts, at risk to their own lives, while attempting to save lives at sea or by lessening or preventing damage to the marine environment. At the same ceremony, three Certificates of Commendation and five Letters of Commendation will be awarded.

Flame-defying Maritime Pilots Recognized with IMO Bravery Award
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Flame-defying Maritime Pilots Recognized with IMO Bravery Award

Two captains working for the Houston Pilots will be receiving the 2017 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea in November. The Houston Pilots serve to bring ships safely in and out of the Port of Houston. Captain Michael G.…


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