Annual Silver Bell Awards Held in NY

Wednesday, July 17, 2002
The Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey held the 25th Annual Silver Bell Awards Dinner on June 11 at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan. It drew a record crowd of more than 900 people and raised over $600,000 for the Institute. "We are thankful for the support of the maritime industry and our friends," said the Rev. Canon Peter Larom, SCI's Executive Director. "Mariners are a vulnerable workforce and this strong show of support for the Institute's programs helps enable our ministry to continue as a worldwide safety net." Richard T. du Moulin, President of Intrepid Shipping and Silver Bell Dinner Chairman since 1996, reported that 15 new companies joined SCI's loyal supporters. "The Institute's service to seafarers and port communities is unequaled among freestanding maritime agencies," said Mr. du Moulin. The men and women of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey were the recipients of the Silver Bell for their inspirational courage and focused dedication to service. "As their offices heaved and collapsed, they immediately assumed responsibility for the City's well being," said the Rev. Jean R. Smith, SCI' s Managing Director. "As friends and colleagues were separated they immediately had to orchestrate the closure of the world's premier airport system; implement the shutdown of the nation's busiest bus terminal; determine the safe and orderly usage of bridges and tunnels; coordinate the evacuation of a bi-state commuter rail system; and, suspend usage of the busiest east-coast port." Ernesto E. Butcher, Chief Operating Officer, accepted on behalf of the Men and Women of the Port Authority. He thanked the Institute for its relief work in Lower Manhattan and also "for extending such a warm welcome to our displaced employees who were temporarily reassigned to the New Jersey Marine Terminals. September 11 changed life for the Port Authority family, but did not change our commitment. In fact, it made us stronger." Rear Admiral Richard E. Bennis, United States Coast Guard (Retired) Associate Under Secretary of Transportation for Mari-time & Land Security at the Transportation Security Administration received the Distinguished Service Award. He directs the Transportation Security Administration's security responsibilities at the nation's airports, seaports and other land transportation facilities. Admiral Bennis retired in March 2002 after four years as Captain of the Port and Commander of Coast Guard Activities New York. During his command, he led the Coast Guard response to the attack on the World Trade Center. He marshalled the forces that evacuated close to one million people from lower Manhattan by water and led the port security and recovery efforts in the months that followed. The first of two Life Saving Awards was presented to Captain Arne Rinnan and the crew of the M/V Tampa, Wilh. Wilhelmsen Lines ASA for setting a standard for professionalism at sea and in the maritime industry. Captain Arne Rinnan and his crew, staunchly supported by the ship's owner Wallenius Wilhelmsen, rescued 438 refugees from a sinking ferry off Indonesia in August 2001. For nine dramatic days, with media attention from around the world, Captain Rinnan kept the Tampa off the coast of Australia in a tense battle between maritime conventions, immigration policies, and human rights. "The rescue by the Tampa is not an isolated incident. Over the last 20 years, 19 of our ships have rescued a total of 1,311 people," said David Looker of Wallenius Wilhelmsen ASA who accepted the award. "The acts of the Captains involved have the full support of our company and the board of directors and will continue to do so." The second Life Saving Award was presented to the New York Police Department's Harbor and Aviation Units for their incredible and brave rescues citywide, and in particular for the rescue of a pleasure craft that overturned last summer in the Rockaway area saving a child and his father who were returning from a fishing trip.
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