Rescue at Sea Award Goes to Carnival Ecstasy

Nov 03, 2021

Next Tuesday, at the annual ceremony on Capitol Hill the Awards For Rescue at Sea (AFRAS) will be presented to civilians and coastguardsmen who went beyond the call of duty to save mariners in distress. This year Carnival cruise ship’s crew is included, awarding their response to a yacht’s distress call and the performance of a successful rescue. 

On November 17, 2020, the captain and crew of the cruise ship Carnival Ecstasy responded to a mayday while departing an anchorage at Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. A crewmember from the motor yacht Balista was injured and needed a medevac, and the cruise ship was in the best position to respond.

Under the direction of Capt. Domenico Calise, the crew carried out a nighttime transfer of the victim in rough seas, while keeping to proper COVID-19 safety protocols. The ship's medical team provided the victim with care overnight. He required further treatment, so Carnival Ecstasy headed north to meet up with a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, which evacuated him the next morning. 

AFRAS will recognize a U.S. Coast Guard servicemember, two Coast Guard Auxiliarists, and the captains and crews of two commercial ships. The other awardees include:

Coast Guard Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Wallace C. Qual, who led a beach rescue team that responded to a vessel grounding at Yaquina Bay, Oregon.

• Coast Guard Auxiliarists Shelley and Gary Markle, who responded to a radio call for help while on a training mission on Lake Michigan, just off Chicago.

• The captains and crews of the merchant vessels Ariel and Horizon Reliance. After an aircraft ditched in the Pacific Ocean more than 1,000 miles from Oahu, Hawaii, they rescued the two survivors from a life raft in rough seas.

Rep. Salud Carbajal - the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation - will host the ceremony at the Rayburn House Office Building. Senior maritime leaders will be in attendance, including the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Adm. Karl Schultz.

Due to COVID-19, the last year's AFRAS ceremony was canceled and the heroes who would have been honored for rescues in calendar year 2019 will be recognized at this year’s ceremony as well.