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Captain Renato Humberto Navarro, especially for GRReporter!

22 October 2010 / 09:10:37  GRReporter
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We met captain Renato Umberto Navaro, one of the leading rescuers of the Chilean miners, a few days after Propeller Club Port of Piraeus in Athens rewarded him the AMVER saving lives award. Award the club rewards Greek ships that voluntarily participate in the U.S. system of research and rescue of persons in distress at sea. On the occasion of awarding captain Renato Humberto Navarro the President of the Propeller Club Port of Piraeus, Mr. Nikolaos Papadakis told GRReporter: "The main role of captain Navarro and his team was to give psychological support to the miners and their families. Many people know this. What few know is that the men trapped underground had emergency supplies and little water during the first 17 days. They were not in good condition when they were found. They had to be recovered. They needed medicines and vitamins. This was a very important point and the team of captain Navarro played significant role. They improved the state of the miners so that they could cope with life below and simultaneously take out stones. It's about hundreds of tons of stones that fell while the machine was drilling. They had to take them out to be saved. The rock that fell and closed the access to the miners had the size of eight-storey building. There was a lot of work and all that needed vitamins, calories and support. One of the reasons we wanted to reward the captain is that he and his team led a whole ‘war’ to give hope for salvation under extremely harsh conditions. We awarded the prize last year for rescuing the two pilots who rescued a seaman that had a heart attack at sea. Now, captain Navarro has saved more lives. They are 33. Thousands of times we say ‘well done!’"

Here is what Renato Humberto Navarro himself said about the time he had fought for the miners’ lives and the prize awarded to him in Athens:

How do you feel after you received the prize? What does it mean to you?

I feel very proud. Now I am here on behalf of everyone who participated in our rescue operation. You could say that I represent all Chileans as all were extremely committed to what we did. I am here also to meet people like Mr. Nicholas Papadakis and all others who try to save lives.

Would you be able to describe what have you been doing in those days? You said yesterday the work lasted 24 hours a day, every day ...

Yes. You know that work in the mine never stops... We tried to talk to the people underground, we asked how was going on the drilling of the hole. We outlined the future steps, which was especially important as we worked in a very long term. However, the work was getting on well quickly and we had to change many things. The machine had no working schedule. We tried to maintain a steady progress. Some days the work was going on better, others worse. We had to check everyday how people below feel. We had to continually modify our strategy depending on their condition. We had ongoing operations. One of them was the meeting with the 5 main persons involved in the action, ‘a small circle’ as we say in Spanish. We held meetings with the families of the miners too. It was quite important because we informed them how the things were going on even before informing the press and our boss. We were trying to do so that they were the first to learn everything. Some people had comments and complaints; they heard things and then asked us about them. We had three machines that worked simultaneously. It was very good, because they were competing with each other but also they were an alternative in case of problems. One day, however, the first that had drilled the most lost a hammer. But people heard on the radio that the machine was completely broken... We had to find a way to explain to them that the problem was really serious but we would deal with it.

What was the hardest moment of the miners rescue operation?

The hardest moment came when there was a man who announced to everyone that there was a better alternative – to use explosives to reach to the main gallery. This troubled everyone and it was very difficult. The families worried the most. They had despaired. They asked why we didn’t resort to this solution but insisted on ours... They thought there was a political reason in our alternative. We explained the situation; we showed them the gallery wall. We marked it at one point to make them see that it moved 5 cm down every day. The problem, however, was that a rock in the size of a huge building crossed the access to the mine in the middle. People thought it would be easier to use explosives but we showed them that this was impossible.

And a personal question. You demonstrate an extremely high level of professionalism in your work. Is the choice of the Navy family tradition?

No. My father and my five brothers are doctors. I'm the only one who works in the Navy. I have four children – three boys and a girl. I would like at least one of the boys to pursue the Navy. I love it when my sons tell me they are proud of me and that I have done very good job...


Tags: Renato Humberto NavarroCaptainChileNavy33 minersSavedAMVER
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