Best of 2011: People
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) awarded Capt. Seog Hae-gyun of the Republic of Korea, master of the chemical tanker Samho Jewelry, the 2011 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea. Capt. Seog’s ship was hijacked in the Indian Ocean in January 2011. While the pirates were on board the ship, Capt. Seog steered the vessel away from the Somali coast, watered down the fuel to prevent combustion, pretended the steering gear wasn’t properly working, reduced the vessel’s speed and secretly communicated information to naval forces. Most amazing, Capt. Seog managed to do all this while being subjected to a series of assaults by the pirates, who fractured his legs and shoulders. He was also shot twice in the abdomen and once in the upper thigh, very nearly dying. Thanks to his daring, a dramatic raid rescued all 21 crew members. Eight pirates were killed and five were captured.