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Last week, the New York maritime scene had National Maritime Day (on May 22) celebratory event that included the annual International Maritime Hall of Fame awards dinner, hosted by the Maritime Association of the Port of New York, or “MAPONY”.
The following morning saw a more solemn occasion; a memorial to Merchant Mariners who perished in World War 1 and World War 2, organized by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association’s NYC Ringknocker chapter.
MAPONY inducted six industry leaders into its International Maritime Hall of Fame in the ceremony, held at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers overlooking the Hudson River. According to MAPONY, attendance at the dinner exceeded 500 guests—setting a new record.
MAPONY’s Executive Director, Stephen Lyman, said: “As an advocate for the commercial interests of the port, the Maritime Association of the Port of NY and NJ is proud to have hosted this sold-out ‘must attend’ event that connected industry leaders throughout the entire maritime community, all of whom came out to recognize this amazing panel of honorees.”
MAPONY, originally a Marine Exchange reporting on ship arrivals and departures, was founded in the 1870s. The organization has evolved beyond port operations into an advocacy organization, supporting all aspects of commercial maritime industry in the Port of New York and New Jersey, including safety of navigation, security of marine assets, sustainability of the marine environment, and the competitiveness of the marine services.
This year’s honorees were all connected to the New York waterfront; Gary Cross, President and CEO of Maher Terminals LLC (the largest container facility in the port), Michael J. DiVirgilio, Principal at Michael J. DiVirgilio & Associates (previously a longstanding executive with a top Japanese carrier), Roger Guenther, Executive Director of the Port of Houston, and John A. Witte, Jr., President and CEO of Donjon Marine Co., a leading salvor and towage provider with a presence along the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts.
A special honor was presented posthumously to the late Anthony V. Marino, Executive Vice President at The Marino Group, and to his brother Vincent J. Marino, President and CEO of the container maintenance provider (with facilities in New York and Charleston, S.C.). The award speeches included anecdotes about the history of containerization, with a number of the recipients, and award presenters, starting out in its early days.
The memorial service, which was held at the Merchant Mariners Memorial, located in Battery Park at the southern tip of New York’s downtown, included a speech honoring those mariners who gave their lives in logistics efforts supporting the two wars, given by Captain Zeita Merchant, the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Commander for Sector New York (the “Captain of the Port). The memorial itself is a sculpture adjacent to the breakwater, with bronze statues of men clinging to a piece of wreckage, attempting to survive after their ship was attacked by a German U-boat during World War 2. It was followed by a well-attended luncheon at a restaurant overlooking the harbor.
The ceremony’s attendees included the Vane Brothers tugboat “FORT SCHUYLER” which stood by in the Hudson River during the service; Vane Brothers has been a supporter of this event for many years.
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