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Plimsoll Awards History

May 1, 2014 03:39 PM


Samuel Plimsoll (1824-1898) was a member of Parliament in Britain who fought against unsafe maritime industry practices, especially the overloading of ships. His efforts led to passage of the Unseaworthy Ships Bill in 1878, which required ships to have marks indicating safe load lines.

The Plimsoll marks on ships today are an enduring testimony to his tireless pursuit of safety at sea. Professional Mariner proudly presents its Plimsoll Awards each year to individuals and organizations that embody the spirit of Samuel Plimsoll.


2018 – For their courage and dedication in support of the maritime industry during Hurricane Harvey, Professional Mariner honored the U.S. Coast Guard’s Texas air crews with the 2018 Samuel Plimsoll Award for Outstanding Service by an Organization. Venturing into the fury of the storm in August 2017, helicopter crews rescued dozens of people along the coast, including at least 27 from vessels that grounded or sank near Port Aransas, one of the hardest-hit areas. Operations included hoisting 12 crewmembers to safety from the dive support vessel Gulf Justice, which grounded near Port Mansfield and began taking on water, and rescuing four mariners from the tugboat Signet Enterprise, which partially sank after being hit by the drillship DPDS1, which had broken free from its moorings during the storm.

The 2018 Plimsoll Award for Outstanding Service by an Individual recognized the professionalism of NY Waterway Capt. David Dort and deck hands Gregorio Pages and Pietro Romano for their actions in a rescue in November 2017 on the Hudson River. As their vessel, the ferry Thomas H. Kean, approached the Battery Park City terminal in Manhattan, the crew saw a man jump from an adjacent seawall into the water. Dort maneuvered the ferry toward him as Pages and Romano deployed a Jason’s cradle from the boat’s bow. A life ring also was tossed to the man, who took it and then grasped the mesh ladder, which was then hoisted onto the ferry.

For the 2018 Plimsoll Award for Innovation, the editors of Professional Mariner recognized new technology from Europe that advances efficiency and sustainability in shipping: Cavotec’s wireless induction charging and automated mooring system, developed in partnership with Wartsila. The vacuum-based MoorMaster system allows a ship to dock precisely so that the wireless induction chargers can boost the vessel’s batteries in port. The need for mooring lines and mooring teams is eliminated, and vessels can be moored in less than 30 seconds, according to Switzerland-based Cavotec. Emissions also are reduced during berthing due to the use of fewer tugs and the operation of fewer engines.

2017 — The 2017 Plimsoll Award for Outstanding Service by an Individual was given to Capt. Michael McGee and Capt. Michael Phillips of the Houston Pilots for their actions aboard the tanker Aframax River on the night of Sept. 6. The ship caught fire and burned for an hour in the Houston Ship Channel, with flaming diesel spreading across the water and threatening other vessels and terminals in Buffalo Bayou. McGee and Phillips maintained their stations in the wheelhouse as flames covered the bridge wings. McGee maneuvered the ship toward the middle of the channel to minimize the threat to its surroundings, while Phillips handled communications with the Coast Guard and coordinated firefighting efforts. As a result, no injuries were reported among the ship’s 25 crewmembers.

The Maritime Institute for Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS) and the Pacific Maritime Institute (PMI) received the 2017 Plimsoll Award for Outstanding Service by an Organization. The award recognizes the schools' Navigation Skills Assessment Program (NSAP), a risk-mitigation initiative that helps mariners and operators identify critical safety gaps and implement solutions to close them. NSAP provides a safe and supportive environment for mariners to demonstrate their maritime and leadership skills and discuss with a respected peer how they can better themselves both professionally and for the safety of their crew, their vessel, and the industry as a whole.

The 2017 Plimsoll Award for Innovation recognizes an initiative led by AkzoNobel, Barrier Group and DroneOps Ltd. to develop miniature aircraft capable of remotely inspecting ballast tanks and wind farms. RECOMMS — Remote Evaluation of Coatings and Corrosion on Offshore Marine Structures and Ships — uses virtual-reality technology and semi-autonomous drones to handle the dangerous work now done by crew, surveyors and independent inspectors. With this program, routine maintenance can be monitored remotely in real time by office-based staff, with instant feedback available to the vessel or offshore structure’s superintendent.

2016 — Capt. Gary Lewin of the Columbia River Bar Pilots was awarded the 2016 Plimsoll Award for Outstanding Service by an Individual. Lewin worked to bring helicopter boarding to the treacherous crossing, played a leadership role in identifying the safest self-righting fast-run boat for the waterway and creatively modified work schedules to battle pilot fatigue. Lewin’s nomination stated that he “exemplifies progressive thinking in the piloting realm” and “had an early vision of moving beyond traditional pilot boarding.”

Harley Marine Services received the award for outstanding service by an organization. The Seattle-based tug and barge company distinguished itself with its creative incentive framework that encourages mariners to embrace good safety habits and to speak out if they believe improvements can be made. Harley’s Safety Incentive Program (SIP) awards points to crewmembers when they come forward with safety tips, submit safety articles, file near-miss reports, participate in regular safety meetings or conduct job-safety analyses. They receive additional points if there are no vessel incidents over a period of three months. Harley Marine also showed leadership in Washington state’s Worst Spill Drill, in which the company offered its high-tech facilities to the practice effort.

Silverstream Technologies won the 2016 Plimsoll Award for Innovation for its work in developing an air-lubrication system for ship hulls. The Silverstream system underwent landmark sea trials in 2015 on the 40,000-dwt ship MT Amalienborg, in both ballast and laden conditions. The air lubrication technology offered efficiency gains of at least 5 percent. The installation also proved that the system can be retrofitted.

The Plimsoll Awards were presented March 22 at the Connecticut Maritime Association’s Shipping 2016 Conference in Stamford, Conn.

2015 — John Cullather was selected as a Plimsoll winner for outstanding service by an individual for his critical role in crafting virtually all of the major marine safety laws of recent times. As staff director of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Marine Transportation from 1995 to 2010, he drafted the Marine Transportation Security Act of 2002, Marine Pollution Prevention Act of 2008 and many Coast Guard Authorization Acts, plus vessel inspection, manning and licensing laws. Cullather also served for 18 years on the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries staff and had a hand in formulating parts of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

Bouchard Transportation Co. received the award for outstanding service by an organization. Bouchard sets a high safety standard of zero injuries and zero incidents impacting the environment. For the benefit of not only Bouchard but also the entire industry, in 2014 the company funded a new tug-and-barge simulation center at SUNY Maritime College that includes state-of-the-art Kongsberg Polaris Bridge technology with advanced consoles and hydrodynamic models to provide specialized training for tugboats, barges and articulated tug-barges.

The Plimsoll Award for innovation was awarded to Coleman Co.’s Stearns Thermashield 24+ immersion suit. While normal immersion suits can receive U.S. Coast Guard certification if they protect the wearer for six hours in cold water, the new Stearns suit has been proved to be effective for over 24 hours. It includes a novel circulatory system that captures exhaled breath and moves it around the suit to provide warmth to the extremities, and features removable gloves and integrated hard-sole boots, which offer the mariner more time to work to save the vessel in distress.

The Plimsoll Awards were presented March 24 at the Connecticut Maritime Association’s Shipping 2015 Conference in Stamford, Conn. 

2014 — Capt. Eric Johansson, a professor at State University of New York Maritime College, was selected as a Plimsoll winner for outstanding service by an individual for his achievements in improving safety in the towing industry. Johansson, who teaches in the college’s Professional Education and Training Department, is founder of the annual Towing Forum.

Waterways Council Inc. (WCI) received the award for outstanding service by an organization. WCI is the leading champion supporting greater government funding for an efficient national system of inland waterways. Based in Arlington, Va., WCI has rallied support from carriers, shippers, port authorities, agriculture, labor, conservation groups and other associations that favor modernizing and repairing the aging network of locks, dams and other navigation infrastructure.

Earning the Plimsoll Award for innovation this year is the Collision Avoidance DST system from Totem Plus. The electronic module, which is part of the Israeli company’s ECDIS product, serves as a decision-support tool (DST) for the officer of the watch. It processes various ARPA and AIS data and automatically analyzes all targets, identifying anything that could pose a collision danger. It then advises the officer on the best action that needs to be taken — course deviation, change of speed, etc. — fully in accordance with the ColRegs.

The awards were presented March 18 at the Connecticut Maritime Association’s Shipping 2014 Conference in Stamford, Conn.

2013 — The U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Investigations & Casualty Analysis was selected as a Plimsoll winner for outstanding service by an organization for its work in casualty prevention.

Capt. Richard Beadon, who conducts simulator training at the Maritime Institute of Training & Graduate Studies (MITAGS) near Baltimore, was a winner of a Plimsoll for outstanding service by an individual. Beadon, whose career stretches over 50 years, has provided shiphandling and safe navigation simulator training to mariners around the world and is considered a pioneer in the development of the concept of bridge resource management (BRM).

Also receiving a Plimsoll for outstanding service by an individual was Clay Maitland, managing partner with International Registries. The award recognizes his efforts to spur action on the problem of liquefaction of cargoes (primarily nickel ore) aboard bulk carriers.

The awards were presented on March 19 at the Connecticut Maritime Association’s Shipping 2013 conference in Stamford, Conn.

2012 — The American Pilots’ Association was named the 2012 winner of the Plimsoll Award for Outstanding Service by an Organization in recognition of its long history of promoting the highest standards of marine piloting and navigation. The association has been particularly effective in exploring ways that technology can be exploited to enhance maritime safety.

William G. Merritt, general manager of AET Offshore Services Inc., was selected as the winner of the 2012 Plimsoll Award for Outstanding Service by an Individual. Merritt conceived a new class of lightering support vessel designed to enhance operational safety. His efforts culminated in the design and construction of AET Innovator, a purpose-built vessel that is expected to be the model for a new generation of safer lightering support vessels.

The 2012 Plimsoll Award for Innovation went to Vesper Marine for its Virtual AIS Beacon. The concept involves the use of a shore-based transponder to broadcast an AIS-type signal indicating, for example, the location of a hazard to navigation.

2011 — The award for outstanding service by an individual went to Capt. George R. Sandberg. During a career at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy that spanned almost 25 years, he served for 11 years as head of the Department of Marine Transportation and five years as director of Nautical Science Simulation. His work on simulation instruction is recognized internationally and has served to shape instruction standards in the United States and internationally.

The award for outstanding service by an organization went to the research and development team at Samson, the Washington-based maker of synthetic lines. Under the leadership of Dr. Rafael Chou, Samson's vice president of development, Samson has set exacting performance standards for its products and taken the guesswork out of operations safety.

The award for innovation was presented to PortVision for its web-based service that allows customers to track vessel movements at ports around the world. PortVision has brought to the industry a new degree of transparency that gives operators and regulators alike access to objective and comprehensive data on which to base solid decisions to enhance operational efficiency and safety. Accepting the award was the company's president, Dean Rosenberg.

The awards were presented at the Connecticut Maritime Association’s Shipping 2011 conference in Stamford, Conn.

2010 – The award for outstanding service by an organization went to the London- based Nautical Institute. It was honored for its support of the professional development of mariners and for its promotion of safety in the maritime industry.

The award for outstanding service by an individual went to Ted Falgout, the long-time director of the leading port for the offshore oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico, Falgout retired in 2009 after 31 years as port director of Port Fourchon, La. Under his leadership, the port grew from a tiny fishing center into the primary base for offshore oil and gas operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

The awards were presented at the Connecticut Maritime Association’s Shipping 2010 conference in Stamford, Conn.

2009 — The award for outstanding service by an organization was presented to the U.S. Coast Guard's Amver program, which enlists vessel around the world to provide regular updates on their positions. When the Coast Guard receives a distress signal, it can use that voyage data to direct the ship in the best position to respond to the emergency. Amver is credited with saving the lives of thousands of mariners over the half century of its existence. Accepting the award on behalf of the Coast Guard was Benjamin Strong, Amver's director of marketing.

The award for outstanding service by an individual went to Capt. Victor Schisler, a pilot with Jacobsen Pilot Service Inc. in Long Beach, Calif. Schisler has been instrumental in developing safe and effective operating techniques and procedures for modern escort tugs. Schisler has played a key role in working out innovative maneuvers that allow the latest azimuthing stern drive and cycloidal tugs to maximize their potential and increase safety margins. For example, he is considered the father of twin-tug transom escorting.

The award for innovation went to Mad Rock Marine Solutions Inc., makers of the RocLoc lifeboat hook. The company, based in St. John's Newfoundland, set out to find a solution to hook failures that have caused an estimated 1,200 accidents and 600 deaths over the last two decades. Mad Rock devised a hook made out of stainless steel designed to be fail safe in the locked position. Simple to operate and maintain, it allows the operator to see clearly and easily when it is in the locked position. Accepting the award on behalf of Mad Rock was Lacee Abbott, the company's marketing specialist.

The awards were presented at the Connecticut Maritime Association's Shipping 2009 conference in Stamford, Conn. 

2008 — The individual award for outstanding service went to Larry T. Rigdon, chairman and chief executive of Rigdon Marine Corp. Rigdon has been a pioneer in the creation of a new generation of highly capable offshore support vessels designed around diesel-electric propulsion and dynamic positioning systems. The vessels have established a new standard of performance for offshore support vessels around the world.

The award for outstanding service by an organization was presented to the American Salvage Association. The ASA was honored for its leadership role in professionalizing the industry's marine salvage and firefighting response. Through its training programs, ASA has been instrumental in improving the coordination between government and the industry to ensure the most effective and timely response when emergencies occur. John A. Witte Jr., president of the ASA, accepted the award on behalf of his association.

The innovation award went to FLIR Systems Inc. in recognition of its thermal imaging technology. For reasons of cost, thermal imaging systems have largely been limited to military applications. But in recent years, FLIR has succeeded in bringing the cost of systems within reach of commercial vessel operators. Thermal imaging systems give searchers a tool of unprecedented power for rapidly locating and rescuing people who have fallen overboard or been forced to abandon ship. Lou Rota, vice president of marine sales, accepted the award on behalf of FLIR.

The awards were presented at the Connecticut Maritime Association's Shipping 2008 conference in Stamford, Conn.

2006 ­— The individual award for outstanding service went to Richard C. Hiscock. Serving as Senior Professional Staff for the U.S. House of Representative's Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Marine Transportation, Hiscock has spent his entire professional life advocating for improved maritime safety to protect lives and property at sea.

The organizational award for outstanding service went to the International Association of Classification Societies for the introduction in 2006 of the new Common Structural Rules for tankers and bulk carriers. The common rules eliminate the opportunity for shipyards to force the classification societies to compete on the basis of lower structural standards. The award was accepted by Richard Leslie, permanent secretary of IACS.

The innovation award was presented to Markey Machinery Company Inc. Thanks to the newest Markey winches, assist tugs can safely move the latest generation of large containerships and tankers because of the greatly reduced risk of breaking hawser lines. Blaine Dempke, Markey's president, accepted the award on behalf of the company.

The awards were presented in March 2007 at the Connecticut Maritime Association's Shipping 2007 conference in Stamford, Conn.

2005 — The winners for 2005 were both honored for their initiative and bravery in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Given the team nature of the efforts to help victims of the storm, the editors elected to award both Plimsolls to organizations rather than individuals.

Capt. Thomas P. Ostebo, commanding officer of Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., accepted the award on behalf of U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Forces. Coast Guard HH-60J helicopters and their crews were among the first responders to react to the crisis and were responsible for rescuing thousands of victims of Katrina.

Scott Cooper, president of Crescent Towing, accepted the Plimsoll on behalf of Crescent Towing's crews. The Louisiana company's tugs continued to operate throughout the storm and were instrumental in aiding vessels and individuals endangered by the storm.

The awards were presented in March 2006 at the Connecticut Maritime Association's Shipping 2006 conference in Stamford, Conn.

2004 — The winner of the Plimsoll for individual service went to Capt. Douglas J. Grubbs of the Crescent River Port Pilots Association. He was honored for his efforts to promote acceptance by mariners of automatic identification system (AIS) technology. Grubbs was instrumental in persuading other mariners to embrace the technology, both through his own work guiding ships on the Mississippi River and through his advocacy of AIS in industry forums in the United States and internationally.

The winner of the Plimsoll for service by an organization went to the U.S. Coast Guard's Research and Development Center in Groton, Conn., for its contributions to the development of AIS. David J. Pietrazewski, who directs the R&D Center's work on AIS, accepted the award on behalf of the Coast Guard. The R&D Center played a key role in developing technical standards that made it possible for the marine electronics industry to design and build AIS equipment that would function properly on commercial vessels.

The awards were presented at a dinner in New Orleans on Nov. 30, 2004.

2003 — The recipients of the Plimsoll Award for outstanding service were the Columbia River Bar Pilots in the organization category and Capt. Dominic Calicchio in the individual category.

The Columbia River Bar Pilots was the first pilots' group in the country to use helicopters to transport their personnel on and off ships in a variety of weather and sea conditions.

Capt. Calicchio, a Coast Guard captain who died in 2003, received the award posthumously for bringing about a number of industry safety reforms. Capt. Calicchio's work was described in the book, Until the Sea Shall Free Them, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Frump.

 The awards were presented at the National Maritime Salvage Conference in September 2003, sponsored by the American Salvage Association (ASA)

2002 — Dr. Anita Rothblum, a research scientist at the Coast Guard's Research & Development Center in Groton, Conn., won the Samuel Plimsoll Award for Outstanding Service. The Sandy Hook Pilots and the U.S. Coast Guard shared the award for outstanding service by an organization for their heroic efforts in response to the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001.

Dr. Rothblum has served the U.S. Coast Guard's R&D Center for over a decade, working tirelessly to establish sound science to effect safer operations aboard vessels in the U.S. and abroad. Her work in human endurance and alertness — and her interest in promoting the results in the field — resulted in improved safety and even changes in centuries-old mindsets on the part of crew, ship managers and government personnel.

The Sandy Hook Pilots and the U.S. Coast Guard Activities New York reacted instantaneously to the sight of smoke billowing out of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Both organizations have their headquarters on Staten Island, facing across New York Harbor toward lower Manhattan and the World Trade Center site. As they witnessed the tragedy, the pilots and the Coast Guard took the initiative. They set up a command post on the pilot boat New York. From there they coordinated the prodigious efforts of the maritime community to evacuate people fleeing the area and to support the efforts by firefighters and police to rescue victims, extinguish the fire and assist the injured.

The awards were presented at Professional Mariner's Maritime Casualties Conference and Expo at the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies in Linthicum Heights, Md.

2001 — The first Plimsoll for individual service went to Capt. Robert Bean, a pilot with the Associated Branch Pilots Association on the Lower Mississippi, for his courageous actions aboard the tanker Champion Trader following an explosion. The blast blew in the bridge windows, sending him across the bridge and filling his eyes with glass shards. Despite his injuries he managed to keep the vessel under control even after it took on water and developed a severe list. He urged the master to ground the vessel on the riverbank to avoid sinking in the middle of the river.

The American Waterways Operators won the first Plimsoll given to a maritime organization. It was honored for its efforts in promoting safety among its member companies. Through its Responsible Carrier program and other safety programs, the AWO demonstrated its commitment to improving safety aboard vessels.

The awards were presented at the Maritime Casualty Conference and Expo at MITAGS in Linthicum, Md.

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