Issued 22nd March 2017

The International Salvage Union today presented its Meritorious Service Award to the Italian Coast Guard in recognition of the extraordinary efforts of its men and women in handling the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

The Award was presented to the Italian Coast Guard’s Head of Plans and Operations Department, Rear Admiral Nicola Carlone, by the President of the International Salvage Union, John Witte, and the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation, Ki Tack Lim. The ceremony took place at the ISU’s annual Associate Members’ Day Conference in London in the presence of some 200 conference delegates.

Speaking of the Award, ISU President, John Witte, said: “I am honoured to mark the great work done by the Italian Coast Guard over the past years and again this year in taking the lead in handling the huge numbers of migrants attempting to reach Europe across the Mediterranean Sea. ISU does not regularly make its Meritorious Service Award and, as the award citation says, the people of the Italian Coast Guard have demonstrated their commitment to saving life at sea; their efforts have gone beyond boundaries and have been undertaken regardless of circumstances and often at great personal risk. They have saved thousands of lives.”

In the first 9 months of 2016 the Italian Coast Guard rescued 26,000 people at sea, including 6952 people on one single day in August. Italy has rescued more survivors in the last two years than in the previous 23 years combined.
Rear Admiral Carlone said: “The entire Italian Coast Guard is truly grateful and honoured to receive this special award that acknowledges the utmost importance to save human lives at sea. The tireless endeavour and the dedication demonstrated by our personnel are part of our mission and search and rescue operations have become part of a humanitarian response to an emergency we cannot ignore.”

The ISU Meritorious Service Award is not made annually and is not specifically for acts of bravery – although these can be considered. It is for exceptional conduct which may be in demonstrated in a single incident or over a long period. The Award may be given to an individual or a team.