The Norwegian Armed Forces recognized a total of twenty-one Filipino seafarers for becoming part of the 43-man civilian crew of MV Taiko from Wilhelmsen in assiting the Norwegian government and military in carrying out UN mission to remove chemical weapons from Syria. The Norwegian government decided to contribute in cooperation with Denmark to transport the weapons out on behalf of the UN and the Organisation for Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
In addition to military forces, the government decided to send a civilian carrier to conduct the transportation mission, which lasted from December 2013 – July 2014.
First 6 of 21 Filipino seafarers received their Operational Medal from the Norwegian military in an awarding ceremony at Bergen, Norway last June. The remaining 15 seafarers received their medals at the residence of Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Førner yesterday, September 17.
“The cooperation on board Taiko is a manifestation of the friendship between our two countries,” said Ambassador Førner in his speech to the awardees yesterday.
The awarding event is seen as a historic event. “No civilian seafarer or commercial vessel have been awarded a medal from the Norwegian Armed Forces since the Second World War,” president and CEO of Wilhelmsen ASA Jan Eyvin Wang said during the awarding event last June. Wilhelmsen is the owner of MV Taiko.
“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 MV Taiko regarding loading and discharging cargo,” said MV Taiko military commander during the operation John Gunnar Refsnes.