The crew of the Norwegian roll-on, roll-off vehicle/cargo ship Taiko, 66,635gt, have been awarded medals for their work in removing chemical weapons from Syria in 2013-14. The medals were presented at a ceremony at Bergen on June 12 this summer.
Jan Eyvin Wang, the president and chief executive of Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA, the owner of the Taiko, said: “This is a historic day. No civilian seafarer or commercial vessel have been awarded a medal from the Norwegian Armed Forces since the Second World War.”
During the mission to assist the Norwegian Armed Forces and the Norwegian Government in the operation to remove the weapons, a total of 43 civilian seafarers from Wilhelmsen served on board the Taiko together with representatives from the Norwegian Armed Forces. John Gunnar Refsnes, the military commander on the Taiko during the operation, said: “The mission was important for Norway and the UN. Given the nature of the operation, it was complicated and we needed close coordination between Armed Forces, specialists in handling chemical weapons and the competence of the crew on board the Taiko regarding loading and discharging cargo.”
“Collaborating with the Navy has been a true pleasure,” said Espen Derbakk, Master of the Taiko. “We have learned a lot from each other and together we were able to pull off a rather complicated mission. Although the cargo was somewhat special for us, we could utilise our combination of high quality seamanship and efficient cargo handling.”
The Taiko is the former Barber Hector of the Ocean Transport & Trading Co formed in 1972 and originally the famous Liverpool company of Alfred Holt & Co, which disappeared in 1967, and then the Blue Funnel Line Ltd formed in 1967. The ship was completed by Hyundai Heavy Industries, Ulsan, South Korea, in 1984 and served on the Barber Lines’s Round the World service, calling at ports in the US, Far East, and the Persian Gulf.