A special Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea is to be inaugurated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The purpose of the Award will be to recognize those who, at the risk of losing their own life, commit acts of extreme bravery to rescue persons in distress at sea or to prevent catastrophic pollution of the environment, amidst extreme conditions prevailing at the time, and thus exhibit virtues of self sacrifice in line with the highest traditions at sea and the humanitarian aspect of shipping. The exact criteria for the Award are being developed and are expected to include the demonstration of exceptional courage, leadership, seamanship and skill, bearing in mind the particular circumstances, the prevailing weather conditions, the number of persons rescued and the degree of risk of pollution averted.
The award scheme will be international; however it will be based on other relevant schemes that are in place nationally worldwide without duplicating them. Under normal circumstances, only one award in any category would be issued each year. Search and rescue organizations may be included among those nominated for the awards. The IMO award or awards might not be made in a year if exceptional bravery had not been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the judging panel. Nominations for Award will be advertised annually and Governments will be invited to nominate candidates or to give their support to nominations made by others. Winners of the award will receive a suitable medal, plaque or trophy provided by the Organization. Awards might also be made on a posthumous basis.
It is envisaged that the nominations for awards will be scrutinized initially by a panel of assessors made up of members of non-governmental organizations in consultative status with IMO with expert knowledge of rescue operations or which represent the seafaring profession. The assessors will provide a shortlist to be considered by a panel of judges, the precise composition of which again has still to be finalized. The outcome of the judging process will be submitted to the Council for consideration and the winners will be invited to IMO to receive their awards at a special ceremony.