Hundreds of Greek shipping companies were recognized for their participation at the AMVER program last year, during the 30th anniversary of the Greek AMVER Awards Gala Dinner, which took place last night at the Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel.
Held in the presence of Greek government officials, top US diplomats and senior representatives from nearly the entire Greek maritime community, the event was organized by the International Propeller Club of the United States, Port of Piraeus, in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Greece and the United States Coast Guard.
The AMVER System (Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue) monitors ships, identifies possible problems and informs ships in the vicinity to approach and provide assistance. It officially came to life on 15 April 1958 through the efforts of the United States Coast Guard and a number of commercial shipping representatives. Over 7,000 lives have been saved by AMVER-participating ships since 2000 and many of them owe their lives to the selfless and altruistic efforts of seamen and vessels of Greek interests. Over 11,000 international ships participate in AMVER and an average of 6,300 ships are added on the AMVER plot each day. The AMVER Center computer receives over 40,000 AMVER messages a day.
Fittingly, the event opened with renditions of the anthems of the United States and Greece, before the welcoming remarks by Costis Frangoulis, President of the International Propeller Club of the United States, Port of Piraeus and Vice President of the International Propeller Club of the United States.
“Tonight is a very special night, since this year the AMVER awards event completes 30 years in Greece. This is a particularly important anniversary for Greek Shipping”, said Frangoulis, in front of 950 guests who had the opportunity to network and enjoy an entertaining evening full of camaraderie and inspiration.
Frangoulis added: “As every year, tonight we honor our seafaring heroes who, with self-sacrifice and self-denial, hurry to save lives in the seas of the world, defying all danger. We honor the ships and their management companies. We honor all of you who are at the helm of decisions and support this very important US Coast Guard program that began in 1958 in the North Atlantic and has expanded worldwide since 1971. A program that since 2000 has helped save 7,000 lives”.
Representing the Greek government, Deputy Minister of Maritime Affairs & Insular Policy, Kostas Katsafados, said: “As you know Greece and Shipping are inextricably linked with each other. This is the reason why Greek Shipping remains firmly as a leading force in World shipping. In particular, it controls 32% of the world’s tanker fleet, 25% of dry bulk carriers and 22% of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) fleet.
“According to the latest European Union (EU), Commission report, Greece continues to increase its share of the fleet controlled by the EU while at the same time the Greek-owned fleet is the largest cross-border carrier in the world with more than 98 percent of cargo transported between third countries. Greek shipowners own 59% of the EU’s tonnage. More than a third of the Greek-owned fleet, or 1,706 ships, are flagged by an EU member state, while they continue to invest in newbuilds.
“I am mentioning numbers, but behind the numbers there are people. And the human potential of our shipping industry is the strong asset of our country. That is why I think that systems like AMVER, which in the last 22 years has helped to save more than 7000 lives, show its usefulness. But they also confirm something else: The dynamics of a word that does not exist in other vocabularies. The word “filotimo”. And the Greek seamen and the companies behind them, whom we honor today, honor “filotimo” by participating with their ships in the efforts to save lives”.
Mary Olson, Deputy Chief of Mission of US Embassy in Greece, delivered a speech on behalf of His Excellency George James Tsunis, US Ambassador to Greece and honorary member of the International Propeller Club, Port of Piraeus. Mrs Olson reiterated the significance of the AMVER Awards and emphasised the importance of the Hellenic-American relationship.
“AMVER has saved thousands of lives at sea. While it began as a U.S. Coast Guard initiative, the wholehearted embrace from the merchant shipping industry around the world has made the program a global success.
“I want to recognize the entire Greek shipping community for your friendship. And I recognize that your participation in the AMVER program is only one aspect of Greek shipping’s longstanding and deep ties to America.
“Last week, a team from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation visited Greece to continue conversations with American…
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