(NEW YORK) — Don Marcus, president of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P), received the Admiral of the Ocean Sea (AOTOS) Award — the U.S.-flag fleet’s honor for lifetime achievement — at an Oct. 28 ceremony sponsored by the United Seamen’s Service (USS).
The licensed deck officers and crews of two MM&P-crewed ships, Maersk Kentucky and USNS Mercy, were also recognized; the first for heroism, the second for public service.
“MM&P appreciates the recognition we are receiving for our proud and time-honored role in the U.S. Merchant Marine,” Marcus said. “This award properly belongs to the mariners who today, tonight, are doing their job at sea.”
In his acceptance speech, he thanked his family for their support and the mentors who helped him along the path to becoming first a licensed deck officer, then a union official.
He also spoke of the essential role played by MM&P and the other maritime unions in preserving the U.S.-flag fleet.
“Political action by MM&P and the other maritime trade unions is the reason that the U.S. flag is still flown aboard merchant ships on the high seas,” he said.
“I take great pride in having successfully served as a professional licensed deck officer,” he told the audience.
“My pride is magnified by the honor of serving as a union official for the men and women of Masters, Mates & Pilots. I may be biased, but there is no finer group of professionals at sea today.”
At the beginning of the awards ceremony, MM&P Captain William Imken accepted an award for heroism on behalf of the officers and crew of Maersk Kentucky, who rescued 11 fishermen from a boat that was sinking in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Officers and crew of the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy were recognized for their service during the five-month Pacific Partnership humanitarian mission in Timor Leste, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Palau.
Also honored during the evening were Arthur E. Imperatore, founder and president of New York Waterway, and Christopher Wiernicki, chairman and CEO of the American Bureau of Shipping.