(THROGGS NECK, N.Y.) — Capt. Brian McAllister, a prominent member of the American maritime industry, will receive an honorary doctorate from SUNY Maritime College on Jan. 27.
McAllister is the chairman of McAllister Towing and has been with his family’s company since 1959. He received a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering and a U.S. Coast Guard third assistant engineer’s license from SUNY Maritime in 1956.
Approximately 200 students are expected to receive their degrees during this fall’s commencement exercises, when McAllister will also receive his honorary doctorate.
“We are delighted to honor Capt. McAllister with this degree,” said Rear Adm. Michael Alfultis, SUNY Maritime president. “He has consistently been an advocate for our college and our students.”
McAllister has every year donated his company’s time and resources to tow the college training ship, Empire State VI, as it leaves and returns on summer sea term. A generous supporter of students, McAllister and McAllister Towing are a significant donor of funds for scholarships. His company also currently employs more than 30 Maritime graduates.
After graduating from SUNY Maritime, McAllister served for two years in the Navy, rising to the rank of lieutenant, junior grade and executive officer aboard LST 880. Afterward, McAllister sailed aboard McAllister tugboats and ferries, ultimately obtaining a master’s license with unlimited pilotage for many of the ports serviced by the company. In 1974, he and other members of the fourth generation purchased the company from the third generation of McAllisters. He became president of the company in 1984 and its sole owner in 1998. He has been chairman since 2013.
McAllister Towing celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2014.
Today, the company, which is still family owned and operated, is one of the oldest and most diversified marine towing and transportation companies, operating an extensive fleet of tugs, ferries and barges.
As ship capacity has grown and environmental protection efforts have expanded, McAllister Towing has invested in faster, stronger and cleaner vessels, including some of the most powerful tugs on the East Coast. The company is currently building the tug Capt. Brian McAllister in honor of its chairman. It is due to arrive in early 2017 and will be the first Tier 4 tugboat on the East Coast. McAllister has partnered, and encouraged other maritime companies to join him, in collaborating with the American Waterways Operators, regulatory agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure a free flow of maritime commerce in a clean, protected environment.
Many maritime institutions and schools have honored him, including at SUNY Maritime’s Admiral’s Scholarship Dinner, the Seamen’s Church Institute, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the National Maritime Historical Society and the Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey.
McAllister says he looks forward to receiving his honorary degree and presenting Maritime College’s commencement speech in January, offering wisdom and advice to the graduating class.
“I feel truly honored to be awarded such a noble distinction,” he said. “I wasn’t always the best student during my years as a cadet, but from my (SUNY) Maritime educational background, which led me to the helm of my family’s company, I hope to have made an imprint on the maritime industry.”