MARAD Presents Rare Gallant Ship Citation Award for Sincerity Ace Rescue

sincerity ace fire
A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircrew flies over the burning Sincerity Ace, with the Green Lake in the foreground, approximately 1,800 nautical miles northwest of Oahu in the Pacific Ocean, Dec. 31, 2018. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The crew of the U.S.-flagged ship M/V Green Lake has been presented with the U.S. Maritime Administration’s Gallant Ship Citation in recognition of their efforts in the response to the Sincerity Ace fire in the Pacific Ocean on December 31, 2018.

The rare award has only awarded to 41 ships since 1944, and the last ship to receive the status was in 1944.

U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administrator, Mark H. Buzby, presented the Gallant Ship Citation Award and U.S. Merchant Marine Medals for Outstanding Achievement to the crew of the Green Lake on Friday. The award was presented to the the Green Lake’s owner, Waterman Transport, Inc., and its captain and crew at a ceremony in New York City.

“Today, as we honor the crew of a great American ship, we again see the value of the Maritime Security Program to our country,” said Administrator Buzby.  “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 650-foot Sincerity Ace, with 21 crew members on board, caught fire December 31, 2018 while in the middle of the Pacific Ocean about 1,800 nautical miles from Oahu, forcing the master to order the vessel abandoned. The M/V Green Lake was first vessel to arrive on scene and its crew eventually helped rescue seven of the Sincerity Ace’s crew members in horrendous conditions. 

“Arriving on the scene, the GREEN LAKE encountered a daunting task – locating SINCERITY ACE crew members floating in unforgiving seas spread out across several miles,” MARAD said in a statement. “The GREEN LAKE fought 17- to 20-foot waves and turbulent winds, making lifesaving attempts even more dangerous and challenging. The rescue effort lasted 18 hours, with the GREEN LAKE’s entire deck crew working tirelessly to get the survivors onboard.  The crew and officers of the GREEN LAKE saved seven SINCERITY ACE crew members.”

Captain William Boyce, Master of the Green Lake, recounted the rescue in an article for Wheelhouse Weekly and republished here

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 by merchant mariners. Between 1944 and 1994 only 41 ships have 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.”  

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 M/V 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.