Maersk Alabama’s Capt. Phillips named Shipmaster of the Year

The following is the text of a speech by Capt. Richard Coates announcing that Capt. Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama was named Nautical Institute/Lloyd’s List Shipmaster of the Year:
The purpose of this award is to recognise and value the ultimate responsibility of the Master for the safety of the ship, her crew, and the cargo carried as well as the safety of life at sea generally.

I am pleased to say that the judges had a particularly tough time considering high quality nominations from ship managers and professional colleagues before choosing the top two. One has had an extremely long maritime career culminating in being a square rig master and examiner; whilst the other became a high profile victim of modern piracy.

Captain Ken Edwards has given a lifetime of dedication to the maritime industry and continues to this day to pass on his knowledge and skills through sail training in Australia. It is fitting that his service is recognised and I will present his Highly Commended Certificate and The Nautical Institute’s Dedicated Service Award to him in Australia next year.

Nevertheless, the Lloyd’s List/Nautical Institute Shipmaster of the Year Award goes to a master who is now well known globally for his heroic actions in the face of violent piracy off the coast of Somalia. Not only did he give himself as a hostage, so as to affect the release of his ship, the anti-piracy measures practised on board had frustrated the pirates’ intent of taking over and operating the ship. The bridge team were the only crew members captured whilst the others were in protected areas with plentiful supplies. Three hijackings have done much to raise the political interest in the piracy problem – the Faina, the Sirius Star, and the Maersk Alabama – and we must hope that a combination of political will, economic measures and military action will resolve this age old problem, and not just in Somalia.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Nautical Institute / Lloyd’s List Shipmaster of the Year is Captain Richard Phillips – who unfortunately cannot be with us this evening but, to receive the Award on his behalf, we are pleased to welcome Doug Bannister of Maersk UK.

By Professional Mariner Staff