Bond Offshore Helicopters Crew Honored for Bravery in ‘VOS Sailor’ Rescue Mission

Bond Offshore Helicopters Crew Honored for Bravery in 'VOS Sailor' Rescue Mission

A Bond Offshore Helicopters crew was honored yesterday for its key role in a dramatic North Sea rescue last December

The crew has received an award at the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society’s annual Skill and Gallantry Awards which for 162 years has recognised the bravery of those who risk their lives in dangerous sea and air/sea rescues.

The helicopter crew from Bond Offshore helicopters in Aberdeen comprising of Captain Graham Stein, Aircraft Commander; First Officer Nick Smalley, Co-Pilot; Senior Aircrewman Paul Walters, Winch Operator and Aircrewman Andy Cowx, Winchman, were presented with the Edward and Maisie Lewis Award for their bravery during the rescue operation..

Winchman Andy Cowx also received an Individual Commendation at the ceremony for his courage and bravery during the rescue.

On 15th December 2012, Super Puma ‘Rescue Bond 1’ was scrambled to assist the 43 metre long, 516 ton standby safety vessel Vos Sailor, with a crew of 12. The ship had been struck and damaged by a large wave 122 miles east north east of Aberdeen -two miles north of the Balmoral oil platform. Vos Sailor was lying across the sea, dead in the water and without power.

Despite pitch darkness, no visible horizon and considerable heave, winchman Andy Cowx was successfully lowered to the vessel, but injured his foot on the descent. Undeterred by his injury he took charge of the shocked and frightened survivors and co-ordinated their rescue.

While preparing to recover the ninth survivor, a particularly large wave caused the winch cable to break. The decision was taken for another helicopter ‘CG Rescue 102’ to complete the operation while RB1 took eight survivors to Aberdeen. Andy stayed behind, remaining calm working with an unfamiliar aircraft and crew to rescue the remaining survivors. His courage and bravery resulted in the saving of 11 lives. One person died in the accident.

Managing Director of Bond Offshore Helicopters Luke Farajallah said: “I am delighted and extremely proud that the life-saving work that Bond does has been recognised. Amidst some of the most challenging conditions imaginable, our four-man crew performed their duties with courage, composure and selflessness”. 

Bond has been providing SAR services in the North Sea since 2006, during which time it has flown over 330 rescue missions. Bond’s offshore SAR operation comprises two dedicated, specially-modified Eurocopter Super Puma AS332L2 Mark II helicopters under a long-term contract with BP to provide 24-hour airborne SAR and medical evacuation in a unique UK BP North Sea initiative known as Jigsaw. One of the high-specification, twin-engine aircraft is based at Sumburgh Airport, Shetland, the other on BP’s Miller platform, in the central North Sea.

Chief Executive of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, Commodore Malcolm Williams said: “Every year I am amazed by the bravery shown by men and women across the UK who risk their lives to save others. The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society Skill and Gallantry Awards ceremony is an important event which helps to spread the word about these rescuers’ achievements and gives public recognition to their selfless commitment to saving lives at sea.”

October 04, 2013


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