December, 2011 – IMO Award 2011 for Exceptional Bravery at Sea

IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea 2011 goes to hijacked ship Master Captain Seog Hae-gyun of the Republic of Korea. Captain Seog Hae-gyun of the Republic of Korea, Master of the chemical tanker Samho Jewelry, has been presented with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea 2011, for his decisive, brave and courageous actions to protect his ship and crew during a vicious pirate attack in the Indian Ocean, which left him with serious and long-lasting injuries. Captain Seog, accompanied by his wife, was handed the award by IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, during a ceremony held on 21 November 2011 at IMO Headquarters in London. When the Samho Jewelry was boarded by pirates, in January 2011, the crew took cover in the designated citadel but the pirates broke in, detaining them on the bridge. Over two days, Captain Seog steered the ship on a zig-zag course, so that the pirates would not realize that the vessel was actually heading away from, instead of towards, Somali waters. He contaminated the fuel so the engines would not work normally, pretended the steering gear was malfunctioning and slowed the ship’s speed from 14 knots to six, to keep her out of Somali waters for as long as possible, thus maximizing the potential for units of the Republic of Korea Navy to attempt a rescue. However, the pirates became suspicious that some of Captain Seog’s actions were intended to outwit them and they brutally assaulted him, causing serious fractures to his legs and shoulders.While all this was happening, the pirates ordered him to communicate information about the incident to his shipping company in English, via satellite. Captain Seog surreptitiously inserted information in Korean about the true situation – information that proved vital for the Navy of his country to plan, and execute, a rescue operation. On 21 January, as the sun came up, the Republic of Korea Navy destroyer Choi