The Civil Service Mariners (CIVMAR) who crew Military Sealift Command’s fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Lewis (T-AO 205) were recognized for life-saving efforts at sea by being presented the United Seaman Service’s Admiral of the Ocean Sea Mariner’s plaque at a ceremony in New York City, Dec. 1.

The AOTOS awards recognize mariners of vessels who, during the previous year, exhibited exceptional bravery, superb seamanship and devotion to duty while engaged operations at sea.

In December 2022, the crew of USNS John Lewis rescued a mariner from a sinking sailboat off the coast of San Diego.

Rear Adm. Phillip Sobeck, Commander, Military Sealift Command, served as the principal speaker for the event and recognized the ship’s efforts during his remarks.

“To the crew of MSC’s very own USNS John Lewis, represented here tonight by the ship’s master, Captain Dan Glazier, your quick and professional actions to rescue a sailboat and mariner adrift at sea for five days were consequential and lifesaving,” stated Sobeck. “You are an example of great Americans serving their Nation, just as over 4,000 CIVMARs aboard MSC vessels are doing around the world every day.”
The plaque presented to the USNS John Lewis’ crew read as follows, “While conducting operations roughly 210 miles off Southern California, the fleet oiler USNS John Lewis received an emergency transmission for a vessel in distress. The oiler immediately steamed through the Pacific locating a sinking sailboat,”

The sails were ripped off the sailboat during a squall approximately six days prior to the rescue.

“Unable to launch a small rescue boat due to 25-knot sustained winds, the (USNS John Lewis) crew skillfully maneuvered the 746-foot oiler alongside the battered sailboat,” the write-up continued. “Once alongside, the sailor scrambled up the pilot ladder to the safety of the ship.”

Once safely aboard USNS John Lewis, the rescued mariner received a medical examination, a shower, a hot meal, clothes and was transported to San Diego.

“Once we got this poor guy onboard, we found out that he had been stranded for five days!” said Capt. Dan Glazier, John Lewis’ Ship’s Master. “I’m glad we were in the area and were able to help. Everything has a purpose, and now this guy can make it home for the holidays rather than the alternative, stuck on the ocean.”

For more than half a century, the United Seamen’s Service has annually presented the AOTOS Award, widely regarded as the most prestigious accolade in the maritime sector. This award acknowledges exceptional contributions made by individuals and organizations towards the advancement of American seafarers and the United States’ maritime industry.

The 746-foot USNS John Lewis is the first of the new John Lewis-class of fleet replenishment oilers, and one of MSC’s newest ships, having been christened in 2021 and accepted into MSC’s fleet in 2022. It has the ability to carry 162,000 barrels of diesel ship fuel, aviation fuel and dry stores cargo. The upgraded oiler was constructed with double hulls to protect against oil spills and strengthened cargo and ballast tanks. The John Lewis-class of oilers will replace the current Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oilers as they age out of the MSC fleet.