US Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer to Receive IMO Bravery at Sea Award


U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer Caleb Halle has been chosen to receive the IMO 2023 Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea for his role in the rescue of seven crew members from a disabled tug off the coast of Maryland earlier this year .

The International Maritime Organization’s Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea is the highest honor for bravery at sea in the maritime industry.

The rescue operation took place on January 14, 2023, after crew members aboard the tug Legacy, while towing a 290-foot barge from New Jersey to Guyana, notified Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region that their 1000-foot towing line had parted and the tug was disabled in severe weather approximately 35 nautical miles off Ocean City.

After several unsuccessful rescue attempts by a USCG cutter, a helicopter rescue team was dispatched. Aviation Survival Technician Second Class (AST2) Caleb Halle was the rescue swimmer leading operation.

Once on the scene, Halle was lowered to the tug and attempted a hoist operation from the stern of the Legacy, helping one survivor into the rescue basket before conditions dictated that it was unsafe to continue. Halle found a safer location on the main deck, where two additional survivors were hoisted to safety.

With the helicopter running low on fuel, Halle volunteered to remain with the tug and its four remaining crew members. When a second USCG helicopter crew arrived, Halle assisted the second rescue swimmer to reach the tug in difficult conditions and despite losing communication. Once on board, they managed to help hoist the four remaining crew members from the vessel. Halle conducted the final search inside the Legacy to ensure no one was left behind.

At one point, a large wave hit the tug, causing damage to the water-tight seal of Halle’s survival suit.