Seafarers Honored for Heroics at AOTOS Event


December 2013


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The heroism of Seafarers aboard six different vessels was recognized in November at the prestigious United Seamen’s Service (USS) 2013 Admiral of the Ocean Sea Awards (AOTOS) event in New York City.


Praising the hard work and bravery of the officers and crews aboard each vessel, former Maryland Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley and Acting Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen presented the officers and crews with AOTOS Mariners’ Plaques to celebrate their accomplishments. Here is a list of the vessels being recognized and a description of the heroics of their crews.



A Military Sealift Command (MSC) vessel operated by SIU-contracted Maersk Line, Limited (MLL), the Bowditch arrived on the scene shortly after the USS Guardian, an Avenger-class mine countermeasure ship, grounded off Tubbahata Reef, Philippines in January. The crew braved excessive winds and high seas to rescue the grounded ship’s crew, all while helping to protect valuable marine resources from further damage.


Maersk Utah

In August, the MLL-operated Utah spent two days assisting in the rescue of 83 Syrian refugees from a boat off Cape Passero in Sicily. The Utah sheltered the small boat of refugees from the high winds and seas until the Italian Coast Guard secured the evacuation of the refugees several hours later.


Ocean Atlas

Refueling in a congested area three miles off the coast of Lome, Togo, Africa in November 2012, the Crowley-managed Ocean Atlas was attacked by a half-dozen pirates traveling on a small skiff. A surveillance team spotted the pirates attempting to board the vessel with a rope-and-wood ladder, however, and worked with the crew to repel the attack. The ship’s crew then radioed for assistance from the Togo Navy.


Kennedy, Empire State, Wright

When Superstorm Sandy slammed into the New York-New Jersey coast in the fall of 2012, these three ships were activated and sent to help. The Wright, based in Baltimore, is operated by Crowley, while the Kennedy and Empire State are training vessels based at (respectively) Massachusetts Maritime Academy and Fort Schuyler, N.Y. Seafarers-contracted TOTE and AMSEA operated the latter two ships during this time. The assignment for all three ships was to assist the government, industry and charity personnel providing rescue and relief to those in need. The vessels, which spent several weeks in the area, provided additional linens, consumables, food and fuel and housed an average of 900 emergency responders per day during the storm recovery effort.


Aside from the heroics of the crews being recognized, the event also celebrated several allies of the maritime industry. Awards were presented to U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), Chas. Kurz & Co. President Philip W. J. Fisher (who’s also an executive with SIU-contracted Keystone, a subsidiary) and Emanuel Rouvelas, a maritime attorney and partner at K&L Gates.


Retired Gen. Kenneth Wykle, who serves as chairman of the USS AOTOS Committee, said each of the three men being honored has done great things for maritime.


“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,” Wykle said. “Manny Rouvelas is dedicated to promoting and protecting American maritime jobs vital to our national security.”




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