The SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education (PHC) formally celebrated its 50th anniversary with a rousing luncheon featuring a new video along with appreciative comments from a powerful array of speakers.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao delivered keynote remarks at the Sept. 26 gathering in Piney Point, Maryland. SIU President Michael Sacco and Crowley Maritime President and CEO Tom Crowley Jr. also were featured speakers, while Seafarers Plans Administrator Maggie Bowen emceed the event, which took place in the school’s main dining room.
Named in memory of the late SIU President Paul Hall (the school’s founder), the PHC is widely hailed as a successful product of strong labor-management cooperation. The state-of-the-art facility has trained tens of thousands of mariners, both through its renowned apprentice program and via vocational upgrading courses.
Chao is no stranger to the school known to most as Piney Point: She made prior appearances while serving as U.S. Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush.
Speaking to an audience that included past and present school officials and staff, attendees to the Seafarers International Union of North America convention, ship operators and other guests, Chao stated, “Paul Hall fought for a better life for Seafarers, a strengthened merchant marine, a stronger labor movement, and better opportunities for young people and minorities. His own experience taught him that better opportunities depend on education and training. This facility continues Paul Hall’s work by providing entry-level and advanced training for Seafarers.”
She pointed out that Hall was inducted into the Department of Labor Hall of Fame while she was secretary. Speaking about the U.S. maritime industry as a whole, Chao said it’s important to strengthen it “because of its contributions to America’s prosperity and national security. Merchant mariners ensure the safe and efficient waterborne delivery of commercial cargoes here at home and across the globe.
“U.S. mariners are a key factor in our country’s military readiness,” she added. “For the past 240 years, they have transported supplies and equipment during times of conflict to our military forces abroad. They stand ready to fulfill that mission today, and they will be ready to do it tomorrow and always. The Department of Defense still relies on U.S.-flag ships, crewed by American civilian mariners, to move our warfighters, equipment and supplies, whenever and wherever they need to go.”
Chao described the school as “a fantastic educational facility. As the daughter of a merchant mariner, I fully appreciate the contributions that merchant mariners make to our country.”
She also credited Sacco (a past vice president of the school).
“President Sacco has taught me about leadership by his dedication and his devotion to his members – to his rank-and-file,” she said.
Crowley, the head of one of the nation’s leading maritime companies and a major employer of SIU members, described the PHC as “a maritime training institution that has had such an impact on the American maritime industry.”
He stated, “Our company has made it a priority to work together with labor – to build our business and to treat our people right. We have learned that working together, we can ensure our mutual success. What was built here at the Paul Hall Center is a symbol of that cooperation: mutual investment in our future.”
He applauded union and company officials for their foresight and efforts to build school, and marveled that an old torpedo-testing facility “could be transformed into such a resource for our industry.”
Crowley continued, “I would like to extend my thanks and that of our industry that’s represented here today to the entire SIU executive board, especially Mike Sacco, (Executive Vice President) Augie Tellez and (Secretary- Treasurer) David Heindel, for the special relationship we’ve enjoyed for the past 50 years of this marvelous school. The entire board of trustees, both union and management, realize that continued investment is needed here in order to build upon the foundation that we have. The school must continue to evolve, offering new and innovative state-of-the-art training, and an atmosphere of excellence and professionalism.”
He added, “We appreciate and congratulate the men and women who sail on our ships, with courage and professionalism. They are the backbone of the industry, and to them I say thank you for your dedicated service, and keep safe as you bravely deliver supplies to our sons and daughters who are fighting gallantly to preserve our freedom.”
Sacco pointed out that he didn’t have to learn about the school’s development from old articles or other secondhand sources, because he was there practically from the beginning, arriving at the then-barren campus in 1968. He joked that he initially wondered if the assignment from Hall was a punishment.
Sacco thanked everyone who helped form the school and who pushed it through the initial growing pains.
“I’m not going to name names, because I know I’ll miss people, but thank you for being there from the beginning, when things were tough,” he said. “What a challenge it was to put this thing together.
“I also want to thank the operators,” he said. “Thank you for the support you’ve given us and the confidence you have in us. We’re going to deliver you the best product that’s out there. People going through the school are learning the trade and learning the economics of the business.”
He recalled a conversation with Hall many years ago: “Paul said, ‘If we don’t upgrade the quality of our people, if we don’t start training them for the needs of the industry and the challenges we’re going to be facing, we’re out of business.’ I never forgot that.”
Sacco underscored the importance of the school’s advisory committee, which includes representatives from labor and management and which also typically features guests from various maritime-related agencies. He pledged to continue working together for the school’s advancement.
Sacco concluded, “The school is the future of the SIU and the future of the maritime industry.”
Editor’s note: The 13-minute video, produced by Kramer Caswell, is available in the Gallery section of the SIU website and also is posted on the SIU and Seafarers LOG Facebook pages. A commemorative Piney Point edition of the LOG was mailed to SIU halls and ships, and it, too, is posted on the SIU website, both in the News section and in the Paul Hall Center section.
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Congressman Hoyer Honors Paul Hall Center
The Office of Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) issued the following news release on September 14. Hoyer’s district includes Piney Point, Maryland.
Hoyer Honors 50th Anniversary of the Paul Hall Center For Maritime Training And Education
Today, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) submitted a statement into the Congressional Record honoring the 50th anniversary of the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education, located in Piney Point, Maryland.
“I’m proud to congratulate the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education on their 50th anniversary,” said Congressman Hoyer. “As one of the top schools for merchant mariners in the United States, the Center has provided cutting-edge training to tens of thousands of mariners since 1967. The Fifth District is lucky to be home to such an esteemed institution, which has contributed greatly to our local economy and national defense. I join in congratulating the Center on their work over the past fifty years, and I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for this fine institution.”
Founded in 1967 by the late Seafarers International Union President Paul Hall, the Center offers more U.S. Coast Guard-approved training courses than any other school in the nation.
Below are Congressman Hoyer’s full remarks in the Congressional Record:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute on this Floor to the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education, which is located in Maryland’s Fifth Congressional District. It is one of the leading schools for merchant mariners in the United States and a major contributor to the development and maintenance of our nation’s proud maritime traditions.
“The Paul Hall Center, which was founded in 1967 by late Seafarers International Union President Paul Hall, runs the leading training program for unlicensed merchant mariners in the United States today. It offers more U.S. Coast Guard-approved training courses than any other school in the nation and has trained tens of thousands of mariners since its founding. The Paul Hall Center’s apprenticeship program, which is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, has been praised as one of the most effective apprenticeship programs in the country and was honored as an ‘Innovator and Trailblazer’ by the Labor Department in 2012. Today, the Paul Hall Center provides students a worldclass education, preparing new merchant mariners to take their places on vessels sailing in both foreign and U.S.-flag fleets.
“It is critical that our country maintain a merchant marine capable of transporting a large share of the seagoing commerce of the United States. The Paul Hall Center’s programs help ensure a sufficient number of well-trained, highly skilled merchant mariners to crew U.S.-flag vessels both for the privately owned merchant marine and for U.S. government-operated fleets.
“To that end, I hope my colleagues will join me in recognizing the significant contributions that the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education has made to our economy, our homeland security, and our national defense through its support of the U.S. Merchant Marine. I hope they will also join me in congratulating the Paul Hall Center on reaching this fiftieth anniversary milestone. I’m proud to represent this wonderful institution in the United States Congress.”
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