2024 Safety at Sea Seminar and AMVER & Benkert Awards

Celebrate excellence and advance industry standards at NAMEPA’s 2024 Safety at Sea Seminar and AMVER & Benkert Awards. This distinguished event, part of National Maritime Week, brings together maritime professionals dedicated to fostering safety and sustainability in our industry. Engage in enlightening discussions on pivotal topics such as digitalization, cybersecurity, decarbonization, mariner welfare, and the seafarer shortage. Then, conclude the day with the prestigious AMVER & Benkert Awards ceremony, recognizing outstanding contributions to maritime safety and environmental stewardship.

The past year has seen an acceleration of events that could compromise maritime operations, and therefore global trade.  From geopolitical aggression and mechanical failures to cyber intrusions; from climate mitigation to mariner well-being, safety has to be at the forefront of our ecosystem. Join us as we reflect and examine the many facets of Safety at Sea!

Date: May 22, 2024

Location: ABS Office, 80 M Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003

Developing Agenda

1200-1300: Networking Luncheon

1300: Welcome – David Walker, VP Global Government Services, ABS

Opening Remarks on Balancing Risk in Challenging Times – Joe Hughes, Chairman of The American Club and Chairman of NAMEPA

Opening Keynote Speaker – Mr. Jack Kammerer, Executive Director-US DoT Maritime Administration 

1330: Setting the Stage – Dana Merkel, Partner, Blank Rome

United States Coast Guard Priorities – Captain Amy Beach, Director of Inspection and Compliance, United States Coast Guard 

What’s Being Discussed at This Week’s IMO Maritime Safety Committee – Donnie Brown, Senior Vice President, Maritime Policy, CLIA

How US Leadership in Maritime will Secure America’s Future – RADM James Watson, USCG (Ret.), Co-Author ZERO POINT FOUR- How US Leadership in Maritime Will Secure America’s Future

1415: Challenges and Opportunities –  Led by Jan-Willem van den Dijssel, Americas Lead at Cargill, Inc. Ocean Transportation

Digitalization and Cyber Security – Rich Delpizzo, Director Global Government Services, ABS

Decarbonization and Safety – Megan O’Leary, Director of Operations, Blue Sky Maritime Coalition

Mariner Welfare – Deacon Paul Rosenblum, Stella Maris Ministry Port Minister, Regional Coordinator for North America and the Caribbean, President, NAMMA

1530: Coffee Break 

1600: AMVER and Benkert Program 

Remarks by Admiral Linda Fagan, Commandant, USCG

1700: Closing Remarks – Joe Hughes, Chairman of NAMEPA and The American Club


Captain Amy Beach, Director of Inspection and Compliance, United States Coast Guard

Captain Beach assumed duties as Director of Inspections and Compliance at Coast Guard Headquarters in July 2022. In this position, she develops and maintains policy, standards, and program alignment for all prevention activities associated with the safe operation of vessels and facilities. This Directorate manages policy development and program oversight for the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, recreational boating safety, foreign and domestic commercial vessel compliance inspections, international and domestic ports and facilities safety and security, as well as vessel documentation and marine casualty investigations.

Prior operational assignments include Commander, Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley in Louisville, KY from June 2019 to July 2022, and Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Savannah from June 2014 to June 2017. Captain Beach also served at the 9th Coast Guard District Prevention Division from June 2017 to June 2019.

She graduated from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1994. She earned her commission as an Ensign in 1995 as a graduate of the Coast Guard’s Officer Candidate School. She holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Protection and Public Safety Management from Saint Joseph’s University of Philadelphia, a Master of Science degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, and an Executive Certificate from MIT in Management and Leadership in 2022. 

Dana Merkel, Partner, Blank Rome

Dana Merkel is an attorney at Blank Rome focusing her practice on compliance counseling, risk mitigation, internal investigations, and defense of administrative, civil, and criminal enforcement actions for clients throughout the marine industry.   Before becoming at attorney, she graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and worked through the International Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots as a Third Mate and Qualified Member of the Engine Department on a variety of vessel types, including container, dry bulk, tanker, ro-ro, ice breaker, and research vessels. Dana also worked ashore managing crude and product transportation for a major U.S. oil company. 

David Walker, VP Global Government Services, ABS

David Walker is a Vice President, Global Government Services at ABS. He is responsible for helping ABS fulfill its not-for-profit mission to serve the public interest as well as the needs of our members and clients by promoting the security of life and property, and preserving the natural environment.

ABS Global Government Services focuses on the needs of government clients with military or other public fleets as well as research, development, and demonstration programs that ABS undertakes with government agencies on a wide range of maritime innovation topics, including clean energy in the maritime domain and decarbonization of maritime operations.

Donnie Brown, Senior Vice President, Maritime Policy, CLIA 

Donald Brown is the Senior Vice President for Maritime Policy at the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). In this capacity he coordinates industry positions on technical, regulatory and policy matters related to cruise ship safety, security, and environmental stewardship.

Prior to joining CLIA, he served as a Commander in the U.S. Coast Guard. As the Chief of the Operations Law Group, he provided agency-wide legal counsel to senior officials and federal interagency leaders on transnational maritime threats, facilitating agency, national, and international consensus on policy matters. Previous assignments include U.S. Northern Command and NORAD, speechwriter and special assistant in the Office of the Coast Guard Commandant, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida, Rescue Coordination Center Miami and sea-going assignments aboard Cutters ESCANABA (1st Lieutenant) and VASHON (Executive Officer).

Donald is a 1993 graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy and a 2003 graduate from the University of Miami School of Law where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Inter-American Law Review.

Carleen Lyden WalkerCEO, NAMEPA, Managing partner, The Maritime Accelerator Resilience (“MAR”) Author, Zero Point Four

Carleen Lyden Walker is the Co-Founder and CEO of NAMEPA (North American Marine Environment Protection Association) leveraging off her experience as a marketing and communications professional in the commercial maritime industry with over 40 years of experience.

In 2015, Ms. Walker was appointed a Goodwill Maritime Ambassador by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). She is a member of WISTA (Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association), The National Press Club, WIMAC (Women in Maritime Association, Caribbean) and is a Past-President of the Propeller Club Chapter of the Port of NY/NJ. She was also elected to the Board of Trustees of the Tall Ships Foundation and Northeast Maritime Institute and has been consistently listed in the top 100 global maritime women.

Ms. Walker is also Chief Executive Officer of Morgan Marketing & Communications, Chief Evolution Officer for SHIPPINGInsight. In 2010, she was awarded the Certificate of Merit by the United States Coast Guard and in 2014 a Public Service Commendation for her work on World Maritime Day and AMVER, respectively. Ms. Walker graduated from Wellesley College with a BA in Political Science and History (minor in Economics) and studied Accounting at Cornell School of Business Administration. She held a USCG Captain’s license.

Jack Kammerer, Executive Director, US DoT Maritime Administration

Mr. Gregory “Jack” Kammerer, a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES), is the Executive Director of the Maritime Administration (MARAD). As the senior career, SES member for MARAD, he provides leadership over the administration and operation of all responsibilities to foster, promote, and develop the maritime industry of the United States. He directly supports the Administrator and Deputy Administrator in the accomplishment of MARAD strategic priorities. Previously Mr. Kammerer had several senior leader roles in the Department of Veterans Affairs, starting as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in 2011. He then served in the Veterans Benefits Administration as the Executive Director of the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service with responsibility for vocational rehabilitation and employment assistance for Veterans Nationwide, and as the Executive Director of the Salt Lake City, Utah VA Regional Office. Before joining VA, he served in assignments as an Army Senior Fellow under the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and was the Legislative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. An Army Veteran, Mr. Kammerer had various command and staff assignments as an Infantry Officer until his retirement in 2005.

In addition to a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy (1984), Mr. Kammerer also has a Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (1993) and a Masters in Military Arts and Science from the US Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (1995). He completed the Army Senior Service College 2009-10 as a fellow at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

RADM James Watson, USCG (Ret.) Co – Author, Zero Point Four – How US Leadership in Maritime Will Secure America’s Future

James Watson is currently an independent consultant providing business development services to maritime clients. He held the position of Senior VP of the American Bureau of Shipping Global Government Services, where he was responsible for the ABS’s government market sector.  Prior to this, Watson was President and COO for the ABS’ Americas Division where he was responsible for all operations of the ABS in the Western Hemisphere.  Before ABS, Watson served as Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement at the US Department of Interior. In this role he provided regulatory oversight for energy exploration and production on the US Outer Continental Shelf. Watson also served as the US Coast Guard’s Director of Prevention Policy for Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship, where his responsibilities included commercial vessel safety and security, ports and cargo safety and security and maritime investigations. He was designated as the Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the government-wide response to the Macondo incident in the Gulf of Mexico.  Watson earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Marine Engineering from USCGA in 1978. He received his Master of Science in Naval Architecture and his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1985. Watson earned an additional Master of Science in Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in 2001. 

Jan-Willem van den Dijssel, Americas Lead, Cargill Inc. Ocean Transportation

Jan-Willem van den Dijssel is an accomplished business leader with over 25 years’ experience in the grain trading and maritime industry. In his current role, Jan-Willem is responsible for Cargill’s Ocean Transportation business across the Americas.

Jan-Willem joined Cargill in 1996 as a grain trader in Chile. He successfully held grain trading roles in Cargill’s headquarters in Minneapolis and in Miami. In 2004, Jan-Willem moved to the Panamax desk of Cargill’s Ocean Transportation business in Geneva, Switzerland before he became manager of the Americas Handy desk.

In 2011, Jan-Willem joined the New Jersey office as Americas Commercial Manager and was promoted to Americas Lead in 2014. He moved the Ocean Transportation team to Miami in 2021.

Jan-Willem studied Finance and Accounting at Glasgow University and graduated with an MSc in Business degree from Groningen University in the Netherlands.

In January 2018, Jan-Willem was named as Cargill’s board representative of the North American Marine Environment Protection Association. He has arranged Cargill’s lead sponsorship and completed all 6 Seamen’s Church Institute Mountain Challenge events in support of mariners. He joined the SCI Board of Trustees in February 2024.

Joe Hughes, Chairman of the American Club, Chairman of NAMEPA

Joe has served as chairman of the managers of The American Club, an International Group mutual, for nearly twenty-nine years. Joe also oversees the activities of Eagle Ocean Agencies, Inc., an affiliate of SCB, which operates the Eagle Ocean Marine and Eagle Ocean America insurance facilities. In addition, he is a director both the American Club itself and its European subsidiary based in Cyprus. In addition to his chairmanship of NAMEPA, Joe is president of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, a director of NYMAR and also sits on committees of the American Bureau of Shipping and Lloyd’s Register of Shipping.

Admiral Linda Fagan, Commandant, United States Coast Guard

Admiral Linda L. Fagan assumed the duties as the 27th Commandant of the United States Coast Guard on June 1st, 2022. As Commandant, she oversees all global Coast Guard operations and 42,000 active-duty, 7,000 reserve, and 8,700 civilian personnel, as well as the support of 21,000 Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers.

She previously served as the 32nd Vice Commandant. Prior flag assignments include Commander, Pacific Area, and Commander, Coast Guard Defense Force West; Deputy Commandant for Operations, Policy, and Capability; Commander, First Coast Guard District; and a joint assignment as Deputy Director of Operations for Headquarters, United States Northern Command.   

Admiral Fagan has served on all seven continents, from the snows of Ross Island, Antarctica to the heart of Africa, from Tokyo to Geneva, and in many ports along the way. Operational tours include Commander, Sector New York, more than 15 years as a Marine Inspector, and sea duty in USCGC POLAR STAR, a 399 ft heavy polar icebreaker.  Staff assignments include Executive Assistant to the Commandant and Vice Commandant, and Division Chief of the Foreign and Offshore Compliance Office.

Possessing extensive interagency as well as intergovernmental experience, Admiral Fagan has worked with both the International Maritime Organization and International Labor Organization on flag state and port state issues. This work includes the development of the International Ship and Port Security Code (ISPS), and the Consolidated Maritime Labor Convention.

Admiral Fagan holds a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science degree from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, a Master of Science in Marine Affairs degree from the University of Washington, and a Master in National Resource Strategy degree from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. She has earned numerous personal and team awards during her 37 years of Coast Guard service.  Admiral Fagan is the longest serving active duty Marine Safety Officer and holds the distinction of being the Coast Guard’s first-ever Gold Ancient Trident.

Megan O’Leary, Director of Operations, Blue Sky Maritime Coalition

Megan O’Leary is Director of Operations at Blue Sky Maritime Coalition, a non-profit organization that aims to achieve net zero emissions in the waterborne transportation industry in the U.S. and Canada.   

Prior to Blue Sky Maritime Coalition, Megan was Vice President, Product and Strategy Specialist at Angelo, Gordon & Co., an alternative asset firm. Her areas of expertise were distressed debt, liquid credit, multi-strategy, and special situations funds. She began her career at Bruderman Brothers Inc., a boutique merchant bank.  

She pivoted from this career in 2020 and earned a Master of Arts in International Environmental Policy with a specialization in Sustainability Management from Middlebury Institute of International Studies.   

Megan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Italian from Tulane University. 

Deacon Paul Rosenblum, Stella Maris Ministry Port Minister, Regional Coordinator for North America and the Caribbean, President, NAMMA

Deacon Paul Rosenblum received his BA (Beloit College), MA (Anna Maria College), and PhD (Boston University) degrees in Biology and taught Biology at the university level for 29 years, retiring from full time teaching in 2017. He has been involved in seafarers’ ministry for 20 years, beginning as a volunteer with the Charleston Port and Seafarers’ Society. Ordained as a permanent deacon for the Catholic Diocese of Charleston in 2014, he was appointed as the Stella Maris Ministry Port Chaplain in 2015. Deacon Paul has served as the Stella Maris Ministry Regional Coordinator for North America and the Caribbean since 2018 and was elected as the President of the North American Maritime Ministry Association in 2020.

Rich Delpizzo, Director of Global Services, ABS

Rich Delpizzo has nearly 40 years of experience working in ship design, construction and operations, technical review, regulatory requirements application, US Navy project management and defense acquisition. He has worked for the American Bureau of Shipping at its New York, New Jersey and Washington, DC offices, and is currently a Director in ABS Global Government Sector, working with the US Navy, US Army, Maritime Administration and select international government sea services.

He has served as the ASNE Chair of Professional Development since 2015 and was awarded the ASNE Frank G. Law Award in 2021. He is a member of both ASNE and SNAME Councils, in addition to chairing SNAME Ship’s Machinery Committee and serving on the US ISO Technical Advisory Group (TAG). After serving in the U.S. Navy Reserve for 28 years, he retired in 2012 at the rank of Captain. Rich is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. 


ABS, a leading global provider of classification and technical advisory services to the marine and offshore industries, is committed to setting standards for safety and excellence in design, construction and operation. Focused on the safe and practical application of advanced technologies and digital solutions, ABS works with industry and clients to provide solutions that drive sustainability, optimize performance and increase operational efficiency for marine and offshore assets.

From its world headquarters in Houston, ABS delivers survey, engineering and advisory services and solutions to clients through a network of local representatives.

At Alaska Chadux Network, our mission is to provide comprehensive regulatory compliance with federal and state oil spill prevention and response requirements while advancing innovative solutions to the unique challenges of operating in Alaska and the US Arctic region. 

Read Alaska Chadux’s annual report here.

The American Club’s mission is to provide its Members with a broad and financially secure range of P&I and related insurance services which most effectively meet the imperatives of their day-to-day business and which are delivered in an attentive, efficient, courteous and focused manner. April 2023 Newsletter.

Blank Rome Maritime is one of the largest maritime practice groups in the United States and is supported by an even broader Transportation Industry Group that brings considerable depth and experience to the myriad litigation, regulatory and transactional issues facing the maritime industry.  With more than 650 attorneys serving clients across the globe, Blank Rome represents businesses and organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-up entities around the globe. Blank Rome helps its clients in all aspects of their businesses. The Firm’s practices cover areas including business tax; commercial and corporate litigation; employment benefits and labor; financial services; bankruptcy and financial restructuring; government relations; health law; intellectual property; maritime; international trade; government contracts; matrimonial; privately held and emerging companies; product liability; public companies and capital formation; public finance; real estate; trusts and estates; and white collar, internal and government investigations. Blank Rome also represents pro bono clients in a wide variety of cases and matters. For more information, go to www.blankrome.com. “Law Firm of the Year” in Admiralty & Maritime Law in U.S. News – Best Lawyers® 2023. View the September issue of Blank Rome Maritime’s newsletter, Mainbrace.

Cargill’s ocean transportation is a leading freight-trading business which provides bulk shipping services to customers across the globe. Founded in 1956, Cargill commands the highest level of operational expertise which ensures the sustainable and efficient management of its 650-strong fleet. Cargill has a unique market perspective able to combine first-class operations with expert trading in both physical and financial freight markets.

Chevron is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies. We believe affordable, reliable and ever-cleaner energy is essential to enabling human progress. Chevron produces crude oil and natural gas; manufactures transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and additives; and develops technologies that enhance our business and the industry. We aim to grow our traditional oil and gas business, lower the carbon intensity of our operations and grow new lower carbon businesses in renewable fuels, hydrogen, carbon capture, offsets and other emerging technologies. More information about Chevron is available at www.chevron.com

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, providing a unified voice for the industry as the leading authority of the global cruise community. CLIA supports policies and practices that foster safe, healthy, and sustainable cruise operations; tourism strategies that maximize the socio-economic benefits of cruise travel; and technologies and innovations that protect and preserve our planet.

DNV is the world’s leading classification society and a recognized advisor for the maritime industry. We enhance safety, quality, energy efficiency and environmental performance of the global shipping industry – across all vessel types and offshore structures. We invest heavily in research and development to find solutions, together with the industry, that address strategic, operational or regulatory challenges.

Dorian LPG is a liquefied petroleum gas shipping company and a leading owner and operator of modern VLGCs. Dorian LPG currently owns and operates 22 modern VLGCs. Dorian LPG has offices in Connecticut, USA, London, United Kingdom and Athens, Greece.

Fairfield Chemical Carriers is committed to being the chemical tanker operator of choice in its selected markets; to providing its customers with top quality and reliable service – creative, proactive, and always client focused; to maintaining the highest standards for safety and efficiency in the operation of its fleet; and, above all, to conducting all its activities professionally, ethically and in a socially responsible manner.

International Seaways’ mission is to exceed its customers’ expectations. We know that every stakeholder is a customer.We do this by understanding our customers’ needs, and by understanding our own business and challenging ourselves to constantly seek improvement. We transport energy safely and efficiently though diligent and environmentally compliant operations of well-maintained assets by well trained and dedicated crews.

thumbnail of MPS logo 2022

At MPS, we create and implement innovative solutions for MARPOL related waste streams, consistent with a comprehensive sustainability strategy and a circular model based on the methodological framework of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, as well as national and international standards that prevent pollution in the maritime industry. We are implementing tools and processes to track and reduce emissions along our entire value chain and at every step of our services. This will be achieved by using the most efficient technologies available to maximize recycling, promote a circular economy and minimize energy consumption, giving vessels the opportunity to measure and reduce their scope 3 emissions.

Our vision is to incorporate our circular economy and decarbonization model throughout the world through strategic global partnerships. With the right leadership and correct sustainable practices, the waste generated by 30 million cruise passengers and seafarers from more than 50,000 merchant ships, will contribute to the net zero transition our planet urgently requires.

Navios Maritime Partners L.P. (“Navios Partners”, NYSE: NMM), is a leading US publicly listed marine transportation company that owns and operates dry bulk, container and tanker vessels.  Navios Partners has a modern fleet of 177 vessels, across three segments with 15+ different types of vessels and an average age of 9.8 years.

Navios Partners is committed to being a leader in sustainability and is continuously working towards this commitment by striving to measure and reduce emissions and waste, aiming to achieve ‘Zero Incidents’, and always focusing on operating ethically, compliantly and transparently.

The OPA 90 Forum was founded to serve as a community of those parties interested in the protection of U.S. waters from pollution by oil and hazardous substances from waterborne or land-based sources. The Mission is to provide a forum for those concerned with OPA 90 preparedness, prevention and response, with the goal of reducing the number and severity of incidents and increasing the effectiveness of response.  The OPA 90 Forum is a non-profit organization incorporated in Delaware in 2021. It is recognized by the IRS as a 501c6, and is accepted by the U.S. Federal Government under the System for Award Management.

The Pasha Group is a family-owned, third-generation diversified global logistics and transportation company that provides ocean transportation for containers and rolling stock between the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii; port processing services for finished and privately owned vehicles; stevedoring for vehicles, breakbulk and container cargos; auto hauling services with its truck fleet throughout the contiguous U.S.; domestic and international relocation services; nationwide container and trailer trucking, LTL, and port warehouse services, container drayage services throughout California, international logistics management for general commodity and project cargoes, Offshore Wind support services in ports and offshore, and clean energy transition services in ports and maritime fleets. Pasha operates facilities at the ports of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, CA; and Honolulu, Maui, and Hilo, HI.  We are active in deploying new green technologies on our ships as well as on our Pasha-affiliated terminals. Through joint ventures, we developed LNG fueling infrastructure as well as hydrogen fueling logistics for vessels.

As one of Florida’s leading economic generators, Port Everglades is the gateway for international trade and cruise vacations. Consistently ranked among the top three busiest cruise homeports in the world, Port Everglades is also one of the nation’s leading container ports and South Florida’s main seaport for receiving energy products including gasoline, jet fuel and alternative fuels. Port Guide.

Scorpio Group is a global provider of marine transportation services.  Scorpio Tankers Inc.  IS ONE OF THE LARGEST product tanker OPERATORS IN THE WORLD.  Scorpio Services Holding provides services to Group companies and third parties including pooling and technical management.  Scorpio has its principal offices in Monaco and New York.  

For more information, go to www.scorpiogroup.net

SIEM Ship Management core values focus on being an environmental leader. We are investing in the latest generation green maritime technologies. Our unique new buildings, ocean trading PCTC vessels, LNG fuelled, proved that we are promoting positive environmental changes in the shipping industry. Our business delivers a cost effective and reliable shipping service working in partnership with manufacturers of automobiles, heavy equipment, trucks, and project cargo. We are pioneering the environmental conservation movement of the shipping industry by reducing harmful emissions using Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) fuel on our vessels. We are continuously developing and maintain the highest standards, certified ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental Management System), ISO 50001:2018 (Energy Management System) and recently ISO 26000 (Social Responsibility).

SIEM Ship Management – Sustainable development

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