‘Seafarer of the Year’ Awarded to Crew for Maui Coast Rescue

July 7, 2016, 9:27 AM HST · Updated July 7, 9:36 AM
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The captain and crew of Holland America Line’s ms Veendam were named “Seafarer of the Year” at this year’s Lloyd’s List North American Maritime Awards, for the rescue of a pilot who ejected from his aircraft 225 miles off the coast of Maui.

The cruise line received the award at a ceremony in New York in May.

Crew members of the ms Veendam after rescuing a pilot off the coast of Maui back in 2015. Photo Courtesy: Holland America Line

Crew members of the ms Veendam after rescuing a pilot off the coast of Maui back in 2015.
Photo Courtesy: Holland America Line

The “Seafarer of the Year” award recognizes the skills, bravery and professionalism that seafarers demonstrate daily.

On Jan. 25, 2015, Veendam rescued a pilot 225 miles off the coast of Maui who had ditched his single-engine aircraft after running out of fuel. The plane had a parachute system and the pilot was able to safely escape into a life-raft where he was retrieved by the cruise ship.

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“Holland America Line employees consistently strive for professional and personal excellence, and to be honored for saving a life is both humbling and rewarding,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “On behalf of Veendam’s captain and crew, thank you to Lloyd’s List for bestowing the honor of ‘Seafarer of the Year,’ a recognition we greatly appreciate.”

“The officers and crew performed exceptionally well and made a dramatic rescue—I am very proud of the Veendam team,” added Keith Taylor, executive vice president, fleet operations, Holland America Group, and retired Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard. “This rescue is a great reminder of the commitment all of us at Holland America Line, our sister brands and the cruise industry have in supporting rescue efforts at sea when we are near.”

Lloyd’s List called Veendam’s award one of the “stand-out moments of the gala dinner.”

“Whenever the crew of a vessel is actively involved in a rescue it shows the capabilities and the humanity of the profession,” said Sander Wielemaker, Atlantic area manager DNV GL, sponsors of the award. “The master and crew, through coordination with the authorities, were able to save the life of the individual and no doubt add a moment of out-of-the-ordinary excitement for the passengers of the cruise ship.”

Holland America Line participates in rescues at sea whenever called upon. Two other vessels of Holland America made similar rescues last year, ms Zuiderdam rescued eight crewmembers from a sinking vessel in the Caribbean and the cruise lines ms Zaandam came to the aid of seven stranded crewmembers at the Arctowski Polish research station at King George Island in Antarctica.

Holland America offers more than 500 cruises to more than 400 ports in 98 countries around the world. The cruises also visit all seven continents, including Antarctica.

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