SCI honors two inland maritime leaders

The following is the text of a news release from the Seamen's Church Institute:

(PADUCAH, Ky.) — On Thursday, Dec. 11, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) hosted its 15th annual River Bell Awards luncheon in Paducah, Ky., raising over $270,000 to support mariners served by the institute’s Ministry on the Rivers and Gulf program. SCI presented the River Bell Award to Peter H. Stephaich, chairman and CEO of Campbell Transportation Co. Inc. It conferred the River Legend Award to J. Russell Flowers, chairman of J. Russell Flowers Inc.

Stephaich has held many roles in industry stewardship positions, including with the American Waterways Operators, the National Waterways Foundation and the Waterways Council Inc. Introducing Stephaich, River Bell Committee member Merritt Lane heralded the pivotal role Stephaich played shepherding through Congress the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, aimed at improving the nation’s inland waterways infrastructure. In his acceptance remarks at the luncheon, Stephaich noted the teamwork of barge companies that contributed to this accomplishment. As a sign of this commitment to collaboration, he remarked on the industry’s mutual support of SCI, which provides pastoral care and training to various companies’ vessel employees.

Flowers echoed Stephaich’s sentiments about his experience of alliance in the maritime industry. Over the course of a career spanning 54 years and several marine companies, Flowers has fostered a collegial atmosphere in a highly competitive business. “Russell has been extremely generous to our industry and most recently in his support for our mariners,” said Mark K. Knoy, River Bell chairman. On Dec. 10, SCI named a simulator pilothouse in honor of the Flowers family’s support.

At the luncheon, SCI invited its Center for Maritime Education director, Capt. Stephen Polk, to give details of the institute’s new simulators unveiled at the center in Paducah, Ky., the day before. Polk described upgrades, funded by multiple training companies, that include new vessel models and photorealistic visual technology. He said, “Today’s upgrades demonstrate just how much the industry cares for its own and how it wants to bring out the best in each other.”

SCI established the River Bell Awards in 2000 to recognize the contributions of an individual, company or organization to the inland maritime industry. Proceeds from the institute’s luncheon support SCI’s programs, including pastoral and spiritual care to American maritime industry employees and shoreside management.

About SCI

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, the Port of Oakland, and along 2,200 miles of America’s inland waterways and into the Gulf of Mexico. SCI’s maritime education facilities provide navigational training to nearly 1,600 mariners each year through simulator-based facilities located in Houston, Texas and Paducah, Ky. The institute and its maritime attorneys are recognized as leading advocates for merchant mariners by the United States government, including the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Coast Guard and 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