MSC ships honored at AOTOS banquet

By MSC Public Affairs

The United Seamen’s Service honored the civil service crews of two Military Sealift Command ships Oct. 26 at this year’s Admiral of the Ocean Seas Awards banquet in New York City.

Hundreds of U.S. maritime leaders from industry and government attended the event, regarded as the U.S. maritime industry’s most prestigious awards event. Awards commend the heroism and outstanding seamanship of American seafarers who have risked their lives to save others.

This year, the United Seamen’s Service awarded the officers and crew of USNS 1ST LT Baldomero Lopez (T-AK 3010), under the leadership of civilian master Capt. Peter Clark. The United Seamen’s Service also presented a special recognition plaque to the crew of USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), under the leadership of civil service master Capt. Jonathan Olmsted.

Bob Kiefer, executive vice president of American Maritime Officers – of which Clark is a member – accepted the award on behalf of the Lopez crew. Olmsted received the award on behalf of his ship.

Lopez

Lopez, as part of MSC’s Prepositioning Ship Squadron Two, was forward-deployed at the central Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia when a civilian mariner became gravely ill with a heart-related medical problem. When mariner collapsed in the ship’s galley, Chief Mate Dave Schumacker alerted Clark. Clark directed 3rd Mate Jacob George to assist in establishing an airway, while he began administering CPR procedures and then the Automated External Defibrillator. After several jolts the patient began breathing, and crew members administered oxygen. The patient was quickly taken ashore, where he received further treatment.

Mercy

Seventy civil service mariners, and approximately 400 Navy, Army and non-governmental organization personnel aboard Mercy returned to San Diego Sept. 14 after steaming more than 20,000 miles – nearly the distance of circling the equator – to Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia as the lead vessel for Pacific Partnership 2012.

 MSC’s civil service mariners were responsible for Mercy’s operation and navigation. In addition, since the ship is too large for pierside visits, mariners operated small boats to transport patients and personnel between ship and shore.

 As part of the medical outreach effort, which took place both ashore and aboard the ship, Mercy’s team treated more than 49,000 people ashore, including providing dental care and services like the distribution of eyeglasses and sunglasses. The team performed more than 900 shipboard surgeries, and treated or evaluated more than 7,000 livestock and domestic animals.

 Navy Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby, commander, MSC, commended Mercy’s crew members for their work during Pacific Partnership 2012 during remarks at the awards banquet.

“During that mission, the crew and medical staff aboard Mercy, including Navy and non-governmental personnel from many organizations and nations, touched the lives of nearly 50,000 people in need of medical and civic assistance. Many of those contacts were life-changing,” said Buzby.

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