Able Seaman (Cabo 2°) César Flores Flores,
Armada de Chile
Recipient of 2012 International Maritime Organization Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea
César Flores Flores, was selected for his role as rescue swimmer in the operation to rescue the crew of the motor launch Rosita V, undertaken by the Chilean Navy aerial detachment from Puerto Montt, Fifth Naval Zone, at Locos islet, in extremely dangerous, stormy conditions.
In a northerly wind of 55 knots, and with gusts of 75 knots, low cloud, high waves and reduced visibility owing to heavy rain, the rescue helicopter located the launch stranded between two rocks. Large waves passed over the half-sunken launch, battering it against the rocks and causing it to shift abruptly. Despite the severe turbulence, the pilot managed to position the aircraft over the launch, at a safe height to avoid the engines being cut off by the breaking waves, and the rescue swimmer was lowered by winch.
Mr Flores Flores rescued seven survivors, wounded and suffering from hypothermia. As he began raising the last one from the deck, a wave caused the vessel to lurch and the winch cable became entangled with the HF antenna and the signal mast, endangering both the swimmer and the helicopter. But Mr Flores Flores was able to disentangle the cable and bring the last survivor up safely. After disembarking the crew members, the helicopter returned to the scene immediately to resume the search, using the last of its fuel. After recovering one lifeless body, the helicopter returned to refuel, took off again and recovered another body from the sea.
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