Mr. Robert D. Somerville, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ABS has been named as the Massachusetts Maritime Academy 2009 Maritime Person of the Year.
Each year Massachusetts Maritime Academy selects a civilian or military leader who has distinguished him or herself through a career of excellence, innovation, and service to the maritime industries. The honoree is presented with the Captain Emery Rice Medal, named for an 1895 Academy graduate and hero of the First World War. The award will be presented to Mr. Somerville on November 6, 2009 at the 15th Annual Admiral’s Ball, being held at the InterContinental Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Admiral’s Ball is the Academy’s largest annual fundraiser. The mission of the event is to address $5,000,000 in unmet financial need among cadets every year and 100% of the Ball proceeds go toward Emery Rice scholarships, the Academy’s most rigorous scholarship program. The core group of MMA Foundation Board Committee volunteers, as well as Academy staff, is presently working to increase net revenues of the event to $1,000,000.
Mr. Somerville has devoted his professional life to the marine industry. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Engineering from Maine Maritime Academy and completed Harvard Business School’s program for Management Development in 1987. Prior to joining ABS in 1970 he served as a seagoing engineer and gained shipyard experience at Newport News, at the time the largest shipbuilder in the world.
In his more than thirty five year career with ABS, Somerville has held increasingly senior positions as Field Surveyor, Senior Surveyor, Principal Surveyor, Regional Manager for Western Europe, and President and Chief Operating Officer of ABS Europe. For eleven years prior to his appointment to the position of Chairman, he served as President and Chief Operating Officer of ABS.
Somerville is an active member of many professional associations and has received numerous awards in recognition of his contributions to maritime safety. He joined the ranks of prominent industry leaders by being inducted into the International Maritime Hall of Fame at the United Nations in New York City in 2006. In 2007 the U.S. Chamber of Shipping of America awarded him the Admiral Halert C. Shepheard Award for his outstanding contributions to merchant marine safety.
He has received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Maine Maritime Academy and an Honorary Doctorate of Commercial Science from the Webb Institute.
He currently serves on the Boards of ABS, the ABS Group of Companies and the Maine Maritime Board of Trustees and as a Trustee of the Seamen’s Church Institute. He also served as the Vice Chairman and past-Chairman of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS).
Former Massachusetts Maritime Academy Maritime Persons of the Year include: Admiral William J. Flanagan, Jr., USN; Gerhard E. Kurz; Morton S. Bouchard, III; Michael D. Tusiani; Peter G. Livanos; Joseph S.K. Kwok; Lars Carlsson; Joseph P. Gehegan, Jr.; Rear Admiral Maurice J. Bresnahan, Jr., USN (Ret.); Dennis M. Houston, Vice Admiral Vivian S. Crea, USCG; Paul R. Tregurtha; John A. Angelicoussis, Alan S. McKim, and Morten Arntzen.