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SNSM to be honoured by IMO for Gonzalo heroics

page4c112MARIGOT--French-side sea rescue service SNSM is to be presented with an honorary certificate by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in recognition of the bravery and sense of duty shown by the volunteer crew of lifeboat SNSM 129 in their efforts to save vessels and lives, in particular yacht Voyage II, during Hurricane Gonzalo on October 13, 2014.

The prestigious international distinction Prix de L’OMI for heroic acts at sea is one of only four certificates to be awarded worldwide by IMO in 2015. The awards ceremony takes place in London, England, on November 19.

Coxswain of SNSM 129 Jean-Claude van Rymenant has also been advised by Préfète Anne Laubies in a congratulatory note that he will be presented with the Ministry of the Interior Medal, bronze grade, in due course.

IMO’s citation recognises “the unrelenting efforts deployed in extreme conditions to save a couple and their baby on the yacht Voyage 11, which ended up on the rocks, and recognises that once that family was safe your efforts to save other occupants of beached vessels continued, even at the cost of losing SNSM 129 on the rocks.”

Letters of congratulation to SNSM St. Martin were sent by the President of SNSM headquarters in Paris, Xavier de la Gorce, Director of Centre Régional Operationel de Surveillance et de Sauvetage (CROSS) Antilles-Guiana Edouard Perrier, and Secretary Général de la Mer Michel Aymeric.

Recalling that fateful day last year, van Rymenant dismissed criticism that SNSM 129 should not have gone out.

   “We had seven volunteers on board and our boat withstood the weather very well with 800 horse power and big props,” he said. “We were still manoeuvrable even with over 65 knots of wind. We got the towing line very fast onto Voyage II, but the skipper took 20 minutes to attach it and at the same time he was trying to save his anchor. That caused us to end up on the rocks as well, but we did save the baby. I think we did the right thing. Rescues and saving lives, it’s what we do. “

Added President of SNSM St. Martin René-Jean Duret: “Saving a life at sea has no price. The cost is in the repairs, maintenance of the lifeboat and equipment. SNSM operates solely on donations and fundraisers; it’s why we need the public to donate generously. Help us to help you. One day it might be your life that needs rescuing.”

Van Rymenant disclosed that contrary to earlier decisions, SNSM will no longer take the lifeboat proposed to replace SNSM 129 because it was found to be older and less well equipped, but will instead take back “129” after the major repairs to it have been completed in France. SNSM 129 is due to be transferred to Pointe Blanche on Friday, to begin its journey to France.

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