The two news releases below were issued this week by the United Seamen’s Service. The SIU-crewed ships receiving honors were the USNS Bowditch, Maersk Utah, Ocean Atlas, and Wright. Seafarers also served aboard the training ships Kennedy and Empire State during relief efforts for Superstorm Sandy.
Six Vessels and Two Individual Mariners Recognized for Courageous Acts at Sea
at 44th Annual USS Admiral of the Ocean Sea Dinner
New York (November 18, 2013)— Recognition was given to American Seafarers for specific acts of bravery and heroism while at sea at the United Seamen’s Service (USS) 2013 Admiral of the Ocean Sea Awards (AOTOS). The AOTOS was presented to Philip W. J. Fisher, President of Chas. Kurz & Co; U. S. Representative Peter King, Republican of New York; and Emanuel Rouvelas, maritime attorney and partner at K & L Gates. More than 700 guests attended the 44th annual dinner and dance at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel in New York City on November 15.
The officers and crews of six different vessels that proved heroisms in their rescue attempts were presented the AOTOS Mariners’ Plaque. Chief Engineer Keith Madding of Crowley Tug Guard and Petty Officer Omar Alba of the U.S. Coast Guard received the AOTOS Mariner's Rosettes. The Honorable Helen Delich Bentley and Acting Maritime Administrator Paul Jaenichen presented the AOTOS Mariner’s Plaques and Rosettes. The first Rosette was presented by Ms. Bentley to Keith Madding of Crowley Tug Guard, after his heroic jump into the San Francisco Bay saved a life.
On October 31st, 2012, Crowley Maritime Corporation’s Tugboat Guard was moving through the waters of San Francisco Bay and raced to the scene of a man struggling in the water and threw a life ring. Chief Engineer Keith Madding scrambled into a survival suit and jumped into the 55-degree water and guided the fatigued man on the climb up the Guard's emergency ladder.
The second Rosette was presented to U. S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Omar Alba, for his heroic and unselfish actions when on November 12, 2012, with terrible Alaska weather when the M/V Polar Wind was in distress and grounded on Ukolnois Island, Alaska. Within minutes, Petty Officer Alba and the crew of helicopter CG 6544 were airborne, headed on a 240 nautical mile flight to the scene, where they found the grounded tug alongside a 200-foot cliff. Alba was deployed by cable to the tug, where he put himself at risk but facilitated the rescue of five seafarers.
The AOTOS Mariners’ Plaque was presented to the Captain and Crew of the USNS Bowditch, Military Sealift Command, for their heroic act off the Tubbahata Reef, Philippines on January 17, 2013, where the grounding of an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship triggered an immediate call for support from the oceanographic survey ship. In steadily deteriorating weather conditions with winds in excess of 25 knots, and associated high seas over the shallow reef. The USNS Bowditch joined MSC-chartered ship M/V C-Champion on scene, working closely with the Philippine Coast Guard.
The mission was to evacuate the grounded ship’s 79-person crew and within three hours, all were safely evacuated. The seamanship and professionalism of the crew of USNS Bowditch were instrumental in saving 79 lives and helping protect a valuable marine resource from further damage. The crew’s efforts were in keeping with the highest traditions of maritime service.
Mr. Jaenichen presented the last three Mariners’ plaques of the night. The second plaque was given to the officers and crew of the Maersk Utah, after a two day life-saving situtation off Cape Passero, Siciliy on August 9-10, 2013 which led to rescue and recovery of 83 Syrian boat refugees. The boat, approximately 15 meters long, was carrying people of various ages, gender and physical condition. The large container ship sheltered the small craft as winds and seas continued to increase. After a total of eight hours, transfer for the refugees began in the pre-dawn hours to Italian vessels.
The life-saving efforts of the Maersk Utah crew demonstrates exceptional compassion for others adrift at sea, and is in keeping with the highest traditions of the maritime services.
The third Mariners’ plaque was presented to the to the officers and crew of the M/V Ocean Atlas, after a pirate attack on November 21, 2012 off the coast of Lome, Togo, Africa.
The vessel was waiting to receive fuel in a congested area. Crowley’s security team was watching to ensure a safe perimeter was maintained. Suddenly, a skiff carrying a half-dozen pirates threaded their way toward the ship concealing themselves behind vessels in the area.
The would-be pirates attempted twice to board the M/V Ocean Atlas using a rope-and-wood ladder, but failed when surveillance teams spotted them and worked with crewmembers to repel the pirates. Throughout the attack attempts, the crew’s security team guarded all entry points, preventing the pirates from their second effort a half-hour later, this time from three separate skiffs. The ship’s crew radioed the Togo Navy to request assistance.
The crew’s performance in this high-stress situation showed a high level of professionalism and the value of Crowley’s anti-piracy security and safety training.
The final three plaques were awarded to the officers and crews of training ships Kennedy, Empire State and Wright during October and November 2012, following the aftermath by Super Storm Sandy off the U. S. East Coast. The impact of the storm led MARAD to activate the three training vessels under provisions of the 2006 Post-Katrina Recovery Act. The three vessels were assigned to support a variety of agencies involved in the recovery efforts.
American Overseas Marine Corporation, Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE) and Crowley Technical Services were assigned to each manage one ship. Rapid crewing followed ensuring vessels were stocked to support extra personnel required to live on the vessels in the disaster regions. Based at SUNY Maritime College and Homeport Pier in Staten Island, the vessels housed an average of 900 DHS or FEMA affiliated Emergency Responders each day.
This unique capability allowed around-the-clock services to the Emergency Responders. The vessels provided a total of 38,291 berthing nights, 74,540 meals and cost avoidance of millions of dollars to DHS/FEMA and the U.S. taxpayers.
USS has presented nearly 2,000 Honored Seafarer Awards in the past 43 years. Proceeds from the AOTOS event benefit USS community services abroad for the U.S. merchant marine, seafarers of all nations, and U.S. government and military overseas. USS, a non-profit agency established in 1942, operates centers in six foreign ports in Europe, Asia, and Africa and in the Indian Ocean, and also provides seagoing libraries to American vessels through its affiliate, the American Merchant Marine Library Association.
Philip Fisher, U.S. Rep. Peter King anjd Emanuel Rouvelas Receive
United Seamen’s Service Admiral of the Ocean Sea Awards
Event Held Nov. 15 in New York
New York (November 19, 2013)—The United Seamen’s Service (USS) 2013 Admiral of the Ocean Sea Awards (AOTOS) was presented to Philip W. J. Fisher, President of Chas. Kurz & Co; U. S. Representative Peter King, Republican of New York; and Emanuel Rouvelas, maritime attorney and partner at K & L Gates. The maritime industry’s most prestigious awards were given at a gala industry dinner and dance at the Sheraton Times Square, New York City, on November 15, 2013. Recognition was also given to American Seafarers for specific acts of bravery and heroism while at sea.
General Kenneth Wykle, USA(ret.), Chairman of the USS AOTOS Committee, noted that: “Phil Fisher has devoted virtually his entire career to one company and one industry—the American-flag merchant marine. Congressman King is a leader in the ongoing effort to have Homeland Security funding based on threat analysis and is a strong supporter of the war against international terrorism. Manny Rouvelas is dedicated to promoting and protecting American maritime jobs vital to our national security.” He added: “It is our honor to honor these three people with diverse shipping connections with the AOTOS Award this year.” General Wykle is also President of the National Defense Transportation Association.
Donald Kurz, President of Keystone Shipping Company, a 2009 AOTOS recipient himself, presented Mr. Fisher’s award. Mr. Fisher joined Keystone Shipping Company and its parent company, Chas. Kurz & Co., 47 years ago in Philadelphia as chief financial officer. He has spent his career involved in working with the U. S. government, maritime labor, major shippers, multi-national oil, chemical and transportation entities and other sectors of the American shipping industry. He is a member of the boards of other companies and also serves as a trustee or financial advisor for various union plans covering pension, medical and training benefits. These include the Seafarers international Union, MEBA, the American Radio Association and the Steelworkers of America. Today he is Executive Vice President of Keystone and President of Chas. Kurz & Co. and President of the Tanker Service Committee.
Mr. Fisher, a known philanthropist, is the founder of the Family Charitable Fund that is dedicated to supporting high schools, colleges, universities, and maritime training schools. He has received numerous awards for his philanthropy. In 2008, the Maritime Port Council of Greater New York honored him as Man of the Year. In 2013, he received the Philadelphia Pinnacle Award for outstanding achievements and philanthropy. He holds a BS degree from LaSalle University and an MBA from Drexel University. In addition to being a Certified Public Accountant, he was a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army. He and his wife, Suzanne, have four sons and eight grandchildren.
Morton Bouchard III gave the award for Rep. King, a Republican. King is serving his eleventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives where is a member of the Homeland Security Committee and Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. He also serves on the Financial Services Committee and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Congressman King, who previously served as Chairman of the Committee in 2005-2006 and again in 2011-2012, has been a leader in the ongoing effort to have Homeland Security funding based on threat analysis and is a strong supporter of the war against international terrorism, both at home and abroad. As Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee he stood up to the pressure from special interest groups and the media.
During his years in Congress, Rep. King has attained a reputation for being well informed and independent. Following the ravages of Superstorm Sandy, Rep. King led the successful fight in Congress to obtain $60.4 billion in emergency funding for the victims of the storm. Rep. King is a strong supporter of the U. S. military and has fought to bring veterans’ benefits into the 21st century. Congressman King has also a strong supporter of funding to combat deadly illnesses. He is a graduate of St. Francis College, Brooklyn, and the University of Notre Dame Law School. He is a lifelong resident of New York and has lived in Nassau County for more than 40 years. Rep. King and his wife, Rosemary, have two adult children and two grandchildren.
The Honorable Helen Delich Bentley, AOTOS 1971, presented the Christopher Columbus statuette to Emanuel (“Manny”) Rouvelas, a recognized authority in maritime law. For three decades Mr. Rouvelas has traveled globally to advise the CEOs of many of the world’s leading shipping companies. He engages in a wide-ranging federal practice representing leading companies and trade associations in the transportation, telecommunications, high technology, hospitality, and manufacturing industries regarding their Washington, D.C. activities and strategies. He often works with the executive branch, Congress, and foreign embassies and governments on international trade and transport matters. He founded the Washington, D.C. office of Preston Gates and guided its growth to more than 140 partners and employees at the time it was merged into K&L Gates on January 1, 2007.
Prior to joining K&L Gates, he was counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce and chief counsel to its Merchant Marine and Foreign Commerce Subcommittees where he had lead staff responsibility for the enactment of 32 public laws. Included was major legislation relating to vessel construction and operation, oil spill prevention, vessel traffic systems, recreational boat safety, Coast Guard and Maritime Administration programs. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and received his law degree from Harvard University. He is married to Marilyn and they have two children and four grandchildren.
Proceeds from the AOTOS event benefit USS community services abroad for the U.S. merchant marine, seafarers of all nations, and U.S. government and military overseas. The recipients will share the evening with a group of American seafarers who will be honored for acts of bravery at sea.
For AOTOS 2013, the Honorable Mary Landrieu, US Senator from Louisiana and AOTOS 2012, was Honorary Chairperson. Michael Sacco, President of the Seafarers International Union, was Dinner Chairman. F. Anthony Naccarato of American Maritime Officers Service served as National Committee Co-Chairmen.
USS continues to provide community services for the U.S. Merchant Marine, the American Armed Forces, and seafarers of the world. USS, a non-profit agency established in 1942, operates centers in six foreign ports in Europe, Asia, and Africa and in the Indian Ocean, and also provides seagoing libraries to American vessels through its affiliate, the American Merchant Marine Library Association.
Edward Morgan is President and Roger Korner is Executive Director of USS. USS AOTOS Coordinator since 1980 is Barbara Spector Yeninas.