The United Seamen’s Service (USS) 2009 40th Annual Admiral of the Ocean Sea Awards (AOTOS) were presented to Donald Kurz, President and CEO of Keystone Shipping Co., headquartered in Philadelphia, and to Ronald Widdows, Group President and CEO of Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) of Singapore, parent company of American President Lines (APL). A Special AOTOS Award was also presented to The United States Coast Guard.
The maritime industry’s most prestigious honors were awarded at a gala industry dinner and dance held at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, New York City, on November 13, 2009.
The Keystone Shipping portfolio has one of the largest fleets under the U.S. flag and Donald Kurz and his maritime-committed family were honored for their roles in America’s 100-year commercial shipping legacy.
A special AOTOS was given to Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant, who accepted on behalf of the Coast Guard, for diligence to duty and incredible role in these times of uncertainty, terror and on-going search, rescue and recovery missions. With a manpower force smaller than the New York police department, their significant role worldwide is daunting and compelling.
All proceeds from the AOTOS event benefit USS community services abroad for the U.S. merchant marine and those of other free world countries. The recipients shared the evening with a group of American seafarers honored for specific acts of bravery at sea, including the crews of both the Maersk Alabama and Liberty Sun for their actions in the face of piracy at sea.
Donald Kurz began his maritime career as a tanker broker in London in 1973. Since joining Keystone in 1974, the company has transformed from a traditional tanker owner/operator to the operator of the diversified fleet portfolio that exists today. Under Kurz's leadership, Keystone established a major presence in the liquid and dry bulk storage and pipeline business in the Port of Los Angeles. Together with partners British Petroleum and OSG, Kurz helped to create the Alaska Tanker Company, and he has led the diversification of Keystone's operating fleet.
Keystone Shipping and the Kurz Group of Companies have participated in U.S. maritime transportation services for more than 100 years, when its founder, Charles Kurz, began working in the ship agency business and with the transportation and storage of salt. Today, Keystone operates six fleets of vessels, including tankers, dry bulk carriers, tug barges, roll on-roll off and special purpose military vessels.
Donald Kurz is the recipient of more than a dozen awards involving shipping and various philanthropic endeavors. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Franklin & Marshall College and a Master of Business in Finance from New York University.
Ron Widdows joined the NOL Board in July 2008 upon being appointed Group President and Chief Executive Officer. Widdows from 2003 was CEO of NOL's container shipping business, APL. Prior to that, he was Executive Vice President, Global Operations and Network where he was responsible for APL's day-to-day operations including the line-haul and feeder fleets, global equipment management, procurement, terminals and alliance relationships.
He has tracked the container shipping industry from port-to-port services to today’s end-to-end supply chain management. His innovative style has led to the introduction of linertrains and Stack Train services, post-Panamax ships and as a leader in the evolution of carrier alliances that have created worldwide service networks. He has also been a leading voice on public policy issues and an advocate on the importance of improved transportation infrastructure.
Widdows has worked in the shipping industry over four decades and joined APL in 1980. He has held senior executive roles in Asia, the United States and Canada. Mr. Widdows is Chairman of the World Shipping Council and of the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement and Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement research and discussion groups. He is on the Advisory Boards of the International Transport Forum and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
The U.S. Coast Guard's mission is to protect the public, the environment, and U.S. economic interests — in the nation's ports and waterways, along the coast, on international waters, or in any maritime region as required to support national security. No small part of this is a commitment to placing their own lives at risk while endeavoring to save the lives of others in distressful situations at sea. Truly an arm of U.S. defense, the special AOTOS recognized thousands of successful missions.