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HOMENAJE A MANGOURAS

Nunca hemos tenido duda de la profesionalidad del Capitán Mangouras ni de su actuación ejemplar en el caso Prestige. Así lo manifestamos en la carta abierta que se publicó en esta página pocos días después de producirse el accidente. En aquellos primeros momentos, cuando las fanfarrias oficiales y su orquesta nos aturdían con improperios y descalificaciones hacia el capitán pirata, hacia el asesino de los mares, los más guardaron silencio. La historia se repetía. La España tramontana volvía hacer agua y un capitán, elegido como víctima, iba derecho a la cárcel. Sólo unos pocos tuvieron la gallardía y el coraje de salir en defensa de Mangouras. Juan Zamora, Ramón Martínez Cañedo y algunos otros profesionales lo defendieron públicamente. Hoy, un año después, uno de los más prestigiosos diarios marítimos del mundo, el “Lloyd´s Lits”, creado en 1696, junto con el Nautical Institue de Londres, ensalzan la figura de Mangouras y lo nominan candidato al premio “capitán del año 2.003”, un premio instituido hace muchos años. La mera nominación de Mangouras es un reconocimiento, un premio indiscutible. Ambas instituciones reconocen que Mangouras es un capitán sin igual. Supo tomar las decisiones precisas para adrizar el barco y evitar la contaminación. Arriesgó su propia vida y permaneció sin dormir durante varios días cumpliendo no sólo con sus obligaciones como capitán, sino que llegó a colaborar incluso en la toma del remolque. Mangouras trato de evitar la rotura del barco y propuso refugiarlo en un lugar seguro. Mangouras actuó profesionalmente, pero tuvo la desgracia de caer en manos de unos indocumentados que dieron al traste con todas sus propuestas. Mangouras fue encarcelado y humillado, tratado como un delincuente. Sin embargo, un año después, los marinos de todo el mundo lo consideran un hombre integro, un ejemplo de comportamiento al mando de un barco. En Barcelona, en donde se encuentra privado de libertad bajo fianza, alejado de su patria y de su familia, muchos capitanes y amigos le tributarán un homenaje el próximo días 22 de enero, un día antes de que cumpla 69 años. Desde estas páginas, nos sumamos a este reconocimiento y expresamos nuestro deseo de que sea premiado como capitán del años 2003. Hacemos extensivo al Jefe de Máquinas y al Primer Oficial qe lo acompañaron en los momentos más difÍciles al capitán . ¡Feliz cumpleaños, Mangouras¡ José A. Madiedo Acosta Presidente de AEMC A continuación, incluimos lo publicado en shiptalk sobre este asunto. Captain Apostolos Mangouras – Master of the Prestige The Prestige loaded with 77,000 metric tonnes of fuel oil took a list off the coast of Spain, in gale force winter Atlantic conditions, on 13 November 2002. Captain Mangouras when faced with the most perilous and frightening moment of his career (42 years experience on tankers) chose to stay on board and battle, in atrocious weather conditions, in order to save all his crew from injury and loss of life. Against all the odds (vessel listing as much as 25° degrees on the starboard side) Captain Mangouras managed to evacuate without injury all of the crew. Captain Mangouras and two other officers elected to stay on board. They corrected the list and stabilised the vessel stopping loss of oil that was spilling from the Butterworth Covers onto the deck. Weather conditions became so bad that due to the heavy rolling of the vessel and breaking seas over the deck it took 20 minutes to make his way forward with two officers to try and connect a towline from attending tugs. This was only possible by taking a dangerous route along the port side of the main deck grasping onto the ship’s side railing for safety. Captain Mangouras worked all night without rest in order to do all he could to attempt to make fast the tug. After tireless attempts to make fast the tow and enduring the frustration of the tow lines continually parting, the tow line was successfully connected at mid-day on the 14 November. Fearing for the safety of the three remaining on board, ship and environment and knowing (from 30 years as Captain on tankers) what was best for his vessel, the Master begged for a place of refuge. Smit Salvage (salvors retained by Prestige) also requested a place of refuge. Both these requests were refused by the Spanish Authorities. Had refuge been granted, the Prestige could have been safely tucked away in Corcubion Harbour within 6 hours (i.e. 1800 hours on 14 November), there would have been minimal and localised pollution in Spain, the vessel would have been saved and the coastline of France spared. Instead the authorities ordered the Prestige to proceed into the Atlantic in winter gale force weather. Some 6 days following the initial incident the Prestige broke into two on 19 November 2002 and sank with the loss of ship and substantial pollution along many hundreds of kilometres of coastline. On the evening of the 15 November the Master and the two other officers were evacuated from the vessel. Captain Mangouras was immediately hand-cuffed once on dry land. He was taken to the local Police Station and, despite having had no sleep for two days, was subjected to a 6 hour interrogation from 8pm on 15 November until 2am on 16 November. He was treated like a criminal and forced to spend 83 days in a high security jail only being released once bail of €3,000,000 was put up. It is a telling, but depressing, statistic that even Michael Jackson with the gravity of his alleged crime and wealth has bail set at a lower level than Captain Mangouras. Even today the Master is not able to return to the bosom of his family but has to remain in Spain in virtual captivity and has to report daily (including weekends) to the local Police Station in Barcelona as part of his stringent bail conditions. In spite of numerous appeals to relax these conditions, this has not been granted. In fact the latest plea by the Captain to be allowed to return home to Greece to spend Christmas with his family (and see his children for the first time since the incident) has been denied. Many people in Galicia, Spain call this man a hero – something of particular significance as it comes from the people of Galicia themselves. No doubt seafarers around the world will have equal if not more sympathy for this courageous man whose name continues to feature in the headlines of Lloyd’s List more than 12 months after the incident. His heroic actions deserve recognition. I therefore nominate Captain Mangouras for the Lloyd’s List and Nautical Institute Shipmaster of the Year Award. Make your nomination today: www.lloydslistevents.com/nominations and/or Email to: sec@nautinst.org by 31st December 2003