Green Lake Crew Recognized for Sincerity Ace Rescue Efforts

Sincerity Ace fire
Sincerity Ace fire

Published Nov 2, 2019 6:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

MARAD's Gallant Ship Citation Award and U.S. Merchant Marine Medals for Outstanding Achievement have been awarded to the crew of the U.S.-flagged car carrier Green Lake for their rescue efforts in response to the fire onboard the Sincerity Ace in the northern Pacific Ocean on December 31, 2018.  

The crew of the Green Lake’s actions began on New Year’s Eve 2018 when the ship responded to the disaster unfolding 2,000 miles northwest of Hawaii. The car carrier Sincerity Ace caught fire, forcing her 21-man crew to abandon ship. Arriving on the scene, the Green Lake encountered the daunting task of locating Sincerity Ace crew members spread out across several miles. The Green Lake crew fought 17- to 20-foot waves and turbulent winds during a rescue effort that lasted 18 hours, with the Green Lake's entire deck crew working tirelessly to get the survivors onboard. They saved seven Sincerity Ace crew members.

The merchant ships SM Eagle, New Century 1, Venus Spirit and Genco Augustus also aided the response, and together they brought an additional nine survivors to safety. Four other Sincerity Ace crewmembers were found unresponsive in the water and were not recovered; one remained missing at the end of SAR operations. 

MARAD Administrator Mark H. Buzby said: “The Green Lake was there to respond in the time-honored tradition of mariners coming to the aid of fellow mariners. This American-trained crew highlights the professionalism and valor of our nation’s mariners, whether conducting humanitarian aid missions or providing vital sustainment to the U.S. Armed Forces.”

The Gallant Ship Award dates back to an executive order issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II to recognize excellence and bravery in merchant mariners. Between 1944 and 1994, only 41 ships received Gallant Ship status, with the last award presented in 1994. The award is presented “to any United States vessel or to any foreign vessel (merchant, Coast Guard, Navy, or other), the crew of that ship, or other individuals or organizations participating in outstanding or gallant action in marine disasters or other emergencies for the purpose of saving life or property.” Ships and crews receiving Gallant Ship status must have encountered substantial danger during rescue and lifesaving efforts while demonstrating efficiency, discipline, and expertise in conducting such operations.

The Merchant Marine Medal for Outstanding Achievement is awarded to U.S. merchant mariners who have participated in an act or operation of humanitarian nature directly aiding an individual or group of individuals.

The Green Lake is part of the MARAD Maritime Security Program fleet. Created in 1996, the Maritime Security Program maintains a fleet of 60 modern U.S.-flag ships, active in international trade, yet available on-call to meet U.S. Department of Defense transport requirements.