On Thursday, June 6, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) hosted more than 750 members of the maritime industry at the 36th Annual Silver Bell Awards Dinner in New York. Raising more than $760,000 for the Institute’s programs for mariners, the dinner awarded maritime leaders Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Robert Somerville and Brian McAllister with honors for their service to the industry.
The Silver Bell Award recognizes an outstanding commitment to merchant mariners and issues facing the maritime industry. This year, SCI presented the award to Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Director of the International Labour Standards Department of the International Labour Organization. Dr. Doumbia-Henry played an instrumental role in creating and achieving ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, a key piece of legislation for seafarers’ rights.
“Despite obvious challenges, working to represent fairly the interests of seafarers, governments and shipowners, she relentlessly, passionately—and with great grace—brokered compromises that enabled the International Labour Organization to adopt the Convention in 2006 without one dissenting vote,” the Director of SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights, Douglas B. Stevenson, said.
SCI recognized the accomplishments of two individuals with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Robert Somerville, who recently retired as Chairman of the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), accepted the award with eloquent remarks that recognized the complementary missions of ABS and SCI. “We in the classification industry can only do so much [for mariners’ wellbeing],” he said. “The ultimate safety net is the Seamen’s Church Institute. They are the ones who are there when the seafarers need help the most.”
Captain Brian McAllister of McAllister Towing and Transportation also received the Lifetime Achievement Award. During his long career with the family-owned company, McAllister ensured its viability throughout difficult times, such as waning maritime traffic in New York Harbor. He passed on leadership to his sons, Buckley and Eric, now the fifth generation of McAllisters to head the company.
This year’s Awards Dinner asked people to “take a closer look” at SCI’s work beyond the evening’s festivities. In his opening remarks, SCI President and Executive Director the Rev. David M. Rider reminded guests that SCI does more than throw a great party. He invited them to “take a closer look at the complex, vital functions we perform on behalf of the entire maritime industry.”
SCI has scheduled next year’s Silver Bell Awards Dinner for Thursday, June 5, 2014. See the full gallery of pictures from the event here.