Captain Gaetano Gigliotti and the crew of the Carnival Elation have been recognized with the Cruise Line Humanitarian Assistance Award from the Association for Rescue at Sea (AFRAS), an organization whose mission is to provide worldwide support and assistance to volunteer maritime rescue services and recognize and honor extraordinary maritime rescues.
Presented during AFRAS’ annual reception in Washington, DC, the award honored Captain Gigliotti and his team for their rescue of a stranded fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Irma last year, according to a statement from Carnival Cruise Line.
In addition to the AFRAS Award, Captain Gigliotti was presented with a framed copy of the entry into the Congressional Record by Florida Congresswoman Federica Wilson commending the life-saving actions of the captain and his team.
The rescued mariner, Edward Potter of Tampa, was reunited at the ceremony with his rescuers.
Carnival said that while undergoing a scheduled dry dock in Freeport, Bahamas, the Elation began monitoring a storm off the coast of Africa that developed into a major Category 5 hurricane. When it became clear that the storm’s path was projected directly over the Bahamas, the decision was made to move the 70,000-ton ship and seek shelter in the Gulf of Mexico.
As the Elation was sailing from the hurricane’s path, the ship received a relayed distress message from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) alerting them that a fishing boat, Captain Eddie, was taking on water approximately 60 nautical miles to the east.
Navigating through of 15 to 20 foot waves and sustained winds of 40 knots gusting to 60 knots, Captain Gigliotti, without the aid of its normal bridge systems and communication equipment due to the early departure from dry dock, was able to maneuver the ship close to the life raft to facilitate a rescue through an open shell door in the hull. Several team members, ignoring the potential risk to their own lives, brought the sole survivor, Potter, on board using a harness and hoisting line.