Maersk Alabama captain Phillips to receive Courage at Sea Award

The following is the text of a press release issued by Seamen’s Church Institute:


(NEW YORK) — On Thursday, June 11, 2009, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI), North America’s largest maritime service organization, will honor outstanding achievements made in the maritime workplace, including the heroism of Captain Richard Phillips. Phillips made world headlines recently when his ship was captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia, and pirates took him hostage for five days at gunpoint in a lifeboat on the open sea. At SCI’s Silver Bell Awards Dinner in New York, Phillips will receive the Courage at Sea Award and address an assembly of high-level executives in the maritime industry about his work to protect mariners from the threat of piracy.

Over the years, the Seamen’s Church Institute has called for increased attention to the effects of piracy on merchant mariners. Phillips’ harrowing experience concentrated international focus on the scourge of piracy that plagues commercial shipping on waters around the globe. In 2008, at least 293 pirate attacks occurred worldwide.

The Seamen’s Church Institute presents awards at the annual Silver Bell Awards Dinner to recognize the extraordinary commitment of an individual, company, or organization to merchant mariners and the issues facing the maritime industry. SCI’s Awards Dinner welcomes over 1,000 tanker owners, shipping agents, and terminal owners/operators, representing over 100 of the top maritime companies.

SCI will honor other significant newsmakers from 2009 at its Dinner. The men and women operating NY Waterway ferries who rescued passengers from the icy waters of the Hudson River after US Airways Flight 1549 crash-landed in mid-January will receive SCI’s Lifesaving Award. SCI’s prestigious Silver Bell Award goes to Alberto Alemán Zubieta, the CEO of the Panama Canal Authority, under whose leadership construction progresses to dramatically widen the much-used waterway.

About the Seamen’s Church Institute

Founded in 1834 and affiliated with the Episcopal Church (though nondenominational in terms of its trustees, staff and service to mariners), The Seamen’s Church Institute of New York & New Jersey (SCI) is the largest, most comprehensive mariners’ agency in North America. Annually, its chaplains visit thousands of vessels in the Port of New York and New Jersey and along 2,200 miles of America’s inland waterways. SCI’s maritime education facilities provide navigational training to nearly 1,600 mariners each year through simulator-based facilities located in Houston, TX and Paducah, KY. The Institute and its maritime attorneys are recognized as leading advocates for merchant mariners by the United States Government, including the US Congress, the US Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization, the International Labor Organization and maritime trade associations.

By Professional Mariner Staff