Statue Cruises receives Coast Guard's Bennis Award for security

(STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.) — Statue Cruises on Wednesday accepted the Rear Adm. Richard E. Bennis Award presented by U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft in a ceremony at Fort Wadsworth. The biennial award, for Excellence in Maritime Security, Large Company, was presented to the official operator of ferry service for the National Park Service to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.

With a record of nearly 9 million people visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island over the past two years, being able to safely transport thousands of people daily is paramount. Nominees for this award are evaluated based on several criteria, including overall security activities, strategic partnerships that raise overall awareness with public and private agencies, how the organization implements a culture of security among all employees, along with how security measures are innovatively integrated into overall maritime operations to address any and all security concerns.

Among the key reasons that Statue Cruises was recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard are:

● Strong working relationships and coordination with multiple law enforcement entities at the city, state and federal levels, including the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, the State of New York and the National Park Service.

● Integration of daily canine inspections to further enhance security prior to departures.

● Security best practices for training and operational procedures.  

● Regular security drills and training with local, state and federal partners to reinforce response procedures.

● Development of exercise scenarios that test proper protocols, readiness and effectiveness for any emergency situation.

“For the millions of visitors traveling on board our vessels to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, ensuring their safety and security as we welcome our guests is essential to our mission,” said Mike Burke, vice president and COO of Statue Cruises. “We are truly honored to receive such a prestigious award from the U.S. Coast Guard, and to be recognized as a model for other maritime operators to promote a safe environment for employees and guests.”

"The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are global icons of the American ideals of freedom, democracy and opportunity.  The safety and security of these icons and the millions of visitors who come here from all over the world are paramount to the mission of the National Park Service," said Superintendent John Piltzecker. "Statue Cruises has been our key partner in working with the United States Park Police to effectively carry our safety and security protocols. We are pleased that they are the recipients of such a prestigious award from the United States Coast Guard, it is well deserved."

The Rear Adm. Richard E. Bennis Award is named after Richard E. Bennis, who served honorably in the U.S. Coast Guard for over three decades and led the Coast Guard evacuation of Manhattan after 9/11 before retiring in 2002. He passed away in 2003. The award serves as a source of encouragement and inspiration for other maritime organizations to enhance their overall security programs and share best practices that would benefit others within the industry.

By Professional Mariner Staff