In a year in which the unconventional became conventional, American
maritime workers and the U.S.-flag shipping industry all received
recognition for a job well done for their service to the nation during
the coronavirus epidemic from the United Seamen’s Service.Unlike its 50 previous annual ceremonies which honored Labor,
government and management leaders, the service’s Admiral of the Ocean
Sea (AOTOS) Award for 2020 was dedicated to the men and women of the
U.S. Merchant Marine during a zoom call on December 9.
Receiving the AOTOS statue of Christopher Columbus was U.S.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. The statue will be displayed at
the Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, DC.
Chao referred to the U.S.-flag industry as a “partnership” who “work
together and so well.” She saluted the industry for stepping up and
delivering throughout the crisis.
In opening her remarks, Chao specifically praised MTD President
Michael Sacco. “He is always championing the issues and concerns of
his rank-and-file members,” she told the nationwide audience.
While speaking on behalf of U.S. merchant mariners, Sacco acknowledged
the vital work performed by seafarers around the world.
“One of the few bright spots of 2020 was the work of the merchant
marine,” Sacco stated.
America’s mariners “handled” working during the virus “like the
professionals you are. You always delivered.”
William Adams, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse
Union, represented the nation’s dockers during the session.
Adams noted several dock workers lost their lives to covid simply by
doing their jobs.
“Our members are essential workers,” he declared. “We are heroes
without capes. Dock workers kept the supply chain moving.”
“Our union brothers and sisters have always answered the call, as they
did in 2020,” said Thomas B. Crowley, Jr., representing Jones Act
The chairman and CEO of Crowley Maritime Corp. continued, “Our
nation’s mariners play a vital role for the economy and national
Speaking for the U.S.-flag international fleet, Maersk Line Limited
President William Woodhour described how the company worked with its
contracted unions to move seafarers safely around the world.
“Mariners know it is more than a job, delivering vital supplies,”
Woodhour pointed out.
U.S. Maritime Administrator Mark Buzby jokingly stated “not many jobs
in this industry can be done remotely.” Then he saluted mariners and
the industry saying, “We needed everyone to get the job done and they
got it done!”
General Stephen R. Lyons, commander of the U.S. Transportation
Command, thanked mariners and industry for making sure “the mission
never fails. Together, we will deliver.”
Rear Admiral Michael A. Wettlaufer, commander of the Military Sealift
Command, applauded mariners for overcoming the challenges before them
during the epidemic.