WSM seafarers have been honoured with an operational medal for assisting the Norwegian Armed Forces and Norwegian government with the United Nations (UN) mission to remove chemical weapons from Syria. No other civilian seafarer or commercial vessel has received such an honour since World War II.
During the mission, 43 seafarers from WSM served on board MV Taiko: 21 from the Philippines, 15 from Norway, 4 from India, 2 from Poland and one from Croatia. Because of the globally spread crew, award ceremonies were held in Norway (Oslo and Bergen), India and the Philippines
“Given the complicated nature of the operation, we needed close cooperation between the armed forces, chemical weapons specialists and a crew that was highly competent in loading and discharging cargo. Close cooperation, teamwork and top competence were essential to succeed,” said John Gunnar Refsnes, military commander for MV Taiko during the operation.
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 the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). In addition to military forces, the Norwegian government decided to send a civilian carrier to conduct the transportation mission, which lasted from December 2013 to July 2014.