Captain Chen Jian, China Rescue & Salvage (CRS)

Winner of the IMRF Award for Outstanding Individual Contribution to Maritime SAR Operations

Captain Chen Jian, master of the “Donghai Jiu 101” was nominated for his search and rescue missions undertaken in the Yangtze River estuary. From July 2019 to May 2021, he performed 13 rescue missions, successfully rescuing three ships in distress and saving 51 lives.

Most notable was a rescue mission conducted on 13 December 2020. In stormy conditions with heavy rain and temperatures below zero, the vessel “Changjin Ocean” suffered engine failure and collided with the container ship “Xinqisheng 69”. This resulted in the rapid sinking of the “Xinqisheng 69” and 16 crew members falling overboard.

In huge roaring waves and a violent storm, Capt. Chen directed the rescue vessel “Donghai Jiu 101” to attend the accident location at high speed.

At the same time, he divided the crew into three groups: a search group, a rescue group, and an emergency medical group. They quickly made the necessary rescue preparations and calculated the drift track of the people overboard according to the tide schedule and the wind direction of the scene.

At 0042, on 14 December, after more than an hour’s difficult navigation, rescue boat the “Donghai Jiu 101” arrived at the pre-mapped location and started searching for the people in water. The wind was force 9-10 and waves 3-4 meters high.

There were many containers, discarded self-lit lifejackets and lifebuoys floating in the sea, which together with the light floating in the channel and anchorage background light made the identification of people in the water exceptionally difficult.

With so many containers in the water, poor vision and rough seas, navigation was perilous. Capt. Chen set up lookouts, with any available crew positioned in the biting winds, in front and to the back of the bridge, on the bow and stern, straining to spot any suspicious objects.

At 0047 a self-lit light was spotted which looked like a person. The lookouts directed the spotlights onto the individual, while Capt. Chen directed the vessel, fighting the wind and waves to get as close as possible.

Keeping the drowning crew member on the leeward side of the vessel, the rescue team dropped the lifebuoy and lifesaving harness and rescued him. This proved that the drift track calculated for the overboard crew members was accurate, increasing Capt. Chen’s confidence that they could rescue the others.

Soon after, another overboard crew member was spotted, but at the same time a container looked like it was about to collide with the rescue boat. Capt. Chen manoeuvred the vessel to push the container away, while the crew kept the spotlight on the distraught person in the sea. Capt. Chen shouted over a loudspeaker to reassure them and then turned the vessel to complete the rescue.

Within three hours of the accident happening and the sinking of the “Xinqisheng 69”, Capt. Chen and his crew had managed to save seven people and retrieve one body.

Photo Gallery

IMRF Awards 2021 - Individual Award

View the photos in Flickr


IMRF Awards 2021 - Captain Chen Jian, China Rescue & Salvage - News Bulletin China

IMRF Awards 2021 - Michael Vlasto & Individual Awards

IMRF Awards 2021 - The Final Results