Special Remembrance Ceremony Held for El Faro Victim
The United Seamen’s Service (USS) honored Anthony Chiarello, President and CEO of TOTE Inc.; Matthew J. Cox, President and CEO of Matson; and James C. McKenna, President and CEO of Pacific Maritime Association with the 2015 Admiral of the Ocean Sea (AOTOS) Award.
The maritime industry’s most prestigious award was presented at the 46th annual gala held at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, New York City, on November 13, 2015. At this gala, the recipients shared the evening with a group of American seafarers who were recognized by the USS for specific acts of bravery at sea.
All three recipients shared a history of early family ties to the maritime industry. Mr. McKenna spoke of his father-in-law introducing him to the waterfront nearly 45 years ago. Mr. Cox, who heads a 133-year -old ocean carrier, spoke of a seafaring grandfather. Mr. Chiarello is a fourth generation family member involved in the maritime industry.
At the close of the evening, USS presented a special remembrance in honor of the 28 American crewmembers of the EL FARO and five Polish nationals who perished at sea on October 1, 2015 during Hurricane Joaquin.
Led by Mr. Chiarello, who dedicated his AOTOS to the 33 heroes, said: “This is a year wherein I am personally unable to accept such a singular honor. Each of us here at this maritime industry gathering will appreciate the gravity and the impact that the loss of the EL FARO and her officers and her crew had on TOTE Maritime.” He added, “Within the firm, each of us has shared the anguish and the grief thrust so unmercifully upon the families and friends of those who were lost. Our hearts are torn bearing witness to their suffering.”
Mr. Chiarello continued, “This year, with the leave of the United Seamen’s Service and by the leave of those of you here with me this evening, I’d ask that we put aside any honor meant expressly for myself, and that we honor instead the valiant men and women that comprised the officers and the crew of the EL FARO. This evening, they deserve the AOTOS award far more than I do.”
The ceremony included the reading of the names of those who perished. Michael J. Sacco, President of the Seafarers International Union, read the named of his union members and Paul Doell, President of the American Maritime Officers, read the names of the union brothers and sisters from the AMO. Finally, Mr. Chiarello recited the names of the five Polish nationals. All 700-plus in the audience then broke into the song, “God Bless America.”
For the 2015 AOTOS Awards, United States Senator the Honorable Cory Booker served as General Chairman. Michael Sacco, President of the Seafarers International Union, was Dinner Chairman and F. Anthony Naccarato of American Maritime Officers Service and Joseph Cox served as National Committee Co-Chairmen.
Proceeds from the AOTOS event benefits USS community services abroad for the U.S. Merchant Marine, seafarers of all nations, and U.S. government and military overseas.
USS continues to provide community services for the U.S. Merchant Marine, the American Armed Forces, and seafarers of the world. USS, a non-profit agency established in 1942, operates centers in six foreign ports in Europe, Asia, and Africa and in the Indian Ocean, and also provides seagoing libraries to American vessels through its affiliate, the American Merchant Marine Library Association.
Edward Morgan is President and Roger Korner is Executive Director of USS. USS AOTOS Coordinator is Barbara Spector Yeninas.
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