Arthur E. Imperatore, Founder and President of New York Waterways; Captain Donald Marcus, International President of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots; and Christopher Wiernicki, Chairman, President and CEO of the American Bureau of Shipping, were recipients of the maritime industry's most prestigious Admiral of the Ocean Sea awards presented at the 47th annual United Seamen's Service gala industry dinner and dance October 28, 2016.
The event was held at the at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, New York City. Recognition was also given to American seafarers for specific acts of bravery and heroism while at sea. (See separate news release).
Kenneth Wykle, LTG, USA (Ret), Chairman of the USS AOTOS Committee, who presented the honors to all three recipients, noted the support by more than 700 guests and said: "This support is a tribute to our recipients whose worthy contributions to our industry are being recognized tonight. All three of our recipients are accomplished well-known industry leaders, he said.
"Arthur Imperatore began his transportation career in trucking and today his cargo is people, who are ferried back and forth with modern boats employing American seafarers. Captain Donald Marcus has a long history of being mesmerized by the sea and has spent his entire career involved with maritime labor. Chris Wiernicki's commitment to safety at sea through the ABS classification mandate can also look to his forbears for a commitment to the sea," he added. "Our industry is fortunate to have a wonderful cross-section of good people deserving of such an honor."
Mr. Imperatore developed a safe, reliable, environmentally sound commuter ferry, which has transported more than 200 million people since 1986. This ferry system, which employs American mariners, also has served several times as a critical rescue and evacuation system. NY Waterway is the largest private ferry operator in the United States.
Now 91, Mr. Imperatore and his brothers, children of Italian immigrants, founded the A-P-A Transport Corporation and built it into the most successful short-haul trucking concern in the nation. The Imperatores instituted innovative transportation systems and developed detailed productivity and efficiency systems.
"The people of New York Waterway have drawn from a hands-on commitment to excellence and my own more than 60 years of transportation industry experience to pioneer a Ferry/Bus system which today is an international model for effective, coordinated mass transportation systems," he said. Navigating the waters of the Hudson and East Rivers, Mr. Imperatore's commuter operation has built upon the Metropolitan Area's greatest natural asset, its waterways.
Captain Donald Marcus was elected as International President of Masters, Mates, & Pilots (MM&P), the marine affiliate of the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA), AFL-CIO, in January 2013 and was Secretary-Treasurer of the union from 2010 to 2012. Previously, he served three terms as the union's International Vice President for Pacific Posts. After graduating from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point in 1979 he sailed in all licensed Deck Officer capacities. Captain Marcus is also a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and has been admitted to the California Bar Association. He has been a union member throughout his working life.
"My life-long involvement in the maritime industry and the trade union movement has been the best of both worlds. What better industry can there be than the merchant marine? An honest, essential industry with a heritage and tradition that go back to colonial days< "said Captain Marcus. "What better, more vital movement can there be than the labor movement that still struggles to protect the living conditions and working conditions of the 99% against the onslaught of an insatiable global plutocracy?
"The political action of MM&P and other trade unions is the reason that the U.S. flag is still found aboard merchant ships on the high seas," he added. "Our mission in labor is to maintain our jobs, compensation and working conditions and to assist others in doing so. That is why MM&P, the International Longshoremen's Association, International Longshore & Warehouse Union, Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, Inland boatmen's Union and American Radio Association have banded together to form the Maritime Labor Alliance to protect our working conditions and our jobs aboard ship and on the docks."
Mr. Wiernicki began his long-standing career with ABS in 1993, working as ABS Americas Vice President of Engineering. Since then, he has occupied various leadership positions including serving as ABS's President and Chief Operating Officer for four years prior to his appointment to chairman in April 2011. He also served as ABS Group of Companies, Inc., President; ABS Chief Technology Officer; ABS Europe Ltd. President and COO. Before joining ABS, he was appointed as President and Chief Executive of Designers and Planners, Inc., one of the leading naval architecture firms.
In his acceptance remarks, Wiernicki said: "I am humbled to accept this award, not for me, but rather on behalf of the more than 5,000 worldwide employees of ABS and the 1.5 million mariners who day in and day out keep this industry moving and our global economy expanding," Wiernicki said. "They are the real and unsung heroes of this industry."
Wiernicki thanked USS and industry executives in attendance whose "vision and leadership propel the shipping industry forward every day and remind us of the importance of maintaining a vibrant U.S. flag fleet and a strong merchant mariner workforce base directly supporting our nation's economic and national security. We can never truly thank enough the courageous mariners who sail the world's oceans and waterways as well as the families that support them at home each and every day," he added. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Vanderbilt, a Master of Science in Structural Engineering from George Washington University, where he was later elected to the George Washington University Engineering Hall of Fame, and a Master of Science in Ocean Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Proceeds from the AOTOS event benefit USS community services abroad for the U.S. merchant marine, seafarers of all nations, and U.S. government and military overseas. The recipients will share the evening with a group of American seafarers who will be honored for acts of bravery at sea. 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.
For AOTOS 2016, Michael Sacco, President of the Seafarers International Union, served as Dinner Chairman. F. Anthony Naccarato of American Maritime Officers Service and Joseph Cox were National Committee Co-Chairmen.
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.