The United Seamen’s Service announced that U.S. Secretary of Transportation, The Honorable Elaine L. Chao, will receive the 2019 Admiral of the Ocean Sea Award based on her career-long commitment to the maritime industry. The other, previously announced recipients are James Given, President of the Seafarers International Union of Canada; Anil Mathur, President and CEO of Alaska Tanker Corp.; and Joseph Pyne, Chairman of the Board of the Kirby Corporation.
The award will be presented at the 50th annual AOTOS gala at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, New York City, on November 1, 2019. During this event, a number of American seafarers will receive recognition for specific acts of bravery and heroism while at sea.
Secretary Chao assumed her office on January 31, 2017. She was previously Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush.
Secretary Chao was raised in Queens, New York and subsequently earned her MBA from Harvard Business School. Early in her career, she specialized in transportation financing in the private sector. She began her executive career in public service working on transportation issues at the White House. She then served as Deputy Maritime Administrator, U.S. Department of Transportation; Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission; and, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
As U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Secretary Chao has been one of the strongest advocates for the U.S. maritime industry in Department history. She has consistently reiterated the need for a modern U.S.-flag fleet, crewed by skilled U.S. Merchant Mariners, as an important component of U.S. national security. To that end, more funding for MARAD has been requested than in any previous Administration’s budgets-- $682M for FY 2020. She also advocated for additional new school training ships. And as a signal of her unprecedented support for the U.S. maritime industry, within the first six months of her tenure as U.S. Secretary of Transportation she visited the Ready Reserve fleet in Beaumont, Texas and toured two American flagged vessels. She also gave her first commencement speech as Secretary to the graduating class of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy on June 17, 2017.
She also served as Director of the Peace Corps, and later as President and CEO of the United Way of America.