The United Seamen’s Service presented the AOTOS Mariners’ Plaque to the captain and crew of the M/V Lykes Liberator for their heroic efforts in a rescue operation off the coast of Florida in August of 2001. Senior Captain William J. Braiser, accepted the award on behalf of Captain David Sulin and the officers and crew of the ship at the Admiral of the Ocean Seas awards dinner Friday night in Manhattan.
The Lykes Liberator is managed by Crowley Maritime Corporation subsidiary Marine Transport Lines (MTL) under a ship management contract with Lykes Lines Limited. MTL is part of Crowley’s oil and chemical distribution and transportation services segment.
This award specifically recognizes the captain and crew’s determination and steadfastness as they provided support and hope to Cuban refugees adrift in a small raft just south of Plantation Key in the Florida Straits. The men followed proper protocol in alerting Coast Guard authorities to the situation and then stood by for several hours providing protection to the refugees by circling the raft to alert passing vessels in this high traffic shipping area to their presence.
In order to prevent the refugees from becoming disheartened by their situation, the Lykes Liberator maneuvered close enough to have Spanish-speaking crewmembers communicate with the refugees in order to determine their perceived medical and mental status. As the evening progressed, the crew offered a life ring with a light to the refugees and powered a special signaling light on the Lykes Liberator as an additional signal to passersby and the approaching Coast Guard rescue team.
“We are very proud of the captain and crew for helping to safely rescue these refugees,” said Tom Crowley Jr., Chairman, President and CEO of Crowley Maritime. “Through their training they were well prepared to deal with the situation.”