PCG officer is 2020 recipient for ‘IMO’s Exceptional Bravery at Sea’ award
CEBU CITY, Philippines – An officer of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is this year’s recipient for the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Exceptional Bravery at Sea award.
The officer is Probationary Ensign (P/Ens) Ralph Ofalla Barajan, the off-duty Coast Guard officer, who rescued 62 people on board a sinking ship off the waters of Cebu last November 2019, the PCG announced in a statement on Monday, October 12, 2020.
The IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea is an annual international recognition for individuals who performed acts of exceptional bravery – risking their own lives to ensure the safety of life at sea or to prevent or mitigate marine environmental damage.
Barajan was one of the passengers of the ill-fated MV Siargao Princess, owned and operated by Virgin Island Princess Shipping, on November 7, 2019.
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The ship departed from Catagbacan Port in Loon, Bohol but it started to sink off the waters of Sibonga town in southern Cebu past 9 a.m. that morning due to strong and big waves that flooded the vessel.
Fortunately, there were no fatalities in the incident, and Barajan has been credited then for making the rescue operations a swift success.
Among the actions cited in his nomination, which was submitted by Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Antonio Manuel Lagdameo, were instructing passengers to stay calm, guiding them in safely jumping off the vessel one by one, telling the captain to abandon ship, and tying lifejackets in groups when everyone was floating on seawaters waiting for the rescue unit to arrive.
PCG Commandant, Admiral George V Ursabia Jr. welcomed this development and commended Barajan’s actions during the incident.
“P/Ens Barajan’s display of courage, determination, and presence of mind which led to the successful rescue of 62 victims, including himself is indeed worthy of emulation and respect for him, his family, and for the PCG – as a perfect demonstration of the Coast Guard service,” Ursabia said.
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