A historic event took place in Bergen, Norway, today when crew from MV Taiko received an operational medal for assisting the Norwegian Armed Forces and the Norwegian government in solving the UN mission to remove chemical weapons from Syria.
“This is a historic day, ” comments a proud Jan Eyvin Wang, president and CEO of Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA, the owner of MV Taiko. “No civilian seafarer or commercial vessel have been award a medal from the Norwegian Armed Forces since the Second World War.”
During the mission, a total of 43 civilian seafarers from Wilhelmsen served on board MV Taiko together with representatives from the Norwegian Armed Forces.
“We see this as a recognition of the crew’s competencies to solve the mission, ” says Wang.
It is the first time a commercial vessel and crew has been under a military command for such a long time.
“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 MV Taiko regarding loading and discharging cargo, » says John Gunnar Refsnes, military captain on board MV Taiko and military commander for MV Taiko during the operation. “Close co-operation, teamwork and top competence were essential to succeed.”
“Collaborating with the Navy has been a true pleasure, ” says Espen Derbakk, master on MV 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.”
About the mission
The UN Security council required Syria to destroy their chemical weapons. 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.