2020 NAMEPA National Maritime Day / Safety at Sea / AMVER / Benkert Awards


Recognizing the challenges posed to gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, while balancing people’s need for connection and information, NAMEPA has decided to hold its Safety at Sea Conference along with the Benkert and AMVER Awards on our original day of May 21st - remotely!

View the press release here 

There is no fee to attend this event, but donations are gratefully accepted.  Like many non-profit organizations in these tumultuous times, NAMEPA is reliant upon its supporters to contribute to our operational costs.  We are grateful to those who share our vision and support our work.

Conference Speakers

Rev. Marsh Drege, President of NAMMA (North American Maritime Ministry Association) 

The Rev. Marsh Luther Drege is Executive Director of Seafarers International House in New York City.  This Lutheran mission is an outreach to seafarers who stay at an 84-room guesthouse in NYC’s Union Square as well as supplying port chaplains for the ports of New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Haven, CT.  He is also the current President of NAMMA (The North American Maritime Ministry Association) which exists to provide a network for training and coordination of ministries that serve port communities throughout North America.

Clinton Webb, Senior Manager of Corporate Development and Strategy, Dorian LPG Ltd. 

Clinton Webb serves as Senior Manager of Corporate Development and Strategy at Dorian LPG. He previously served as a Research Analyst covering maritime equities at both AXIA Capital Markets in New York and GMP Securities in Houston, TX, and before that covered E&P and MLP at Stephens Inc. in Ft. Worth, TX. He holds a B.A. from Union College, New York, an M.B.A from Indiana University, and studied natural resource management at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH).

Cynthia Hudson, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, HudsonCyber

Cynthia Hudson is CEO and founder of HudsonAnalytix, Inc., a global maritime risk consultancy serving the maritime transportation sector, headquartered in the Philadelphia, US and internationally from London to Piraeus. Well-known and highly regarded throughout the maritime transportation industry for her work and contributions in her field, Ms. Hudson was honored by the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Committee on Ports with the 2016 Maritime Award of the Americas: Outstanding Women in the Maritime and Port.  Ms. Hudson serves on a number of Industry Boards, such as the American Caribbean Maritime Association and the Maritime Academy High School in Philadelphia. She is President of WISTA Delaware River & Bay Chapter and a Director of NAMEPA.

Joe Hughes, NAMEPA Chairman and Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Shipowners Claims and Bureau (The American Club)

Joe has served as Chairman and CEO of the managers of the American Club, an International Group mutual, for nearly twenty-five 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 of American Hellenic Hull Insurance Company, Ltd., a Cyprus-based underwriting investment of the American Club. In addition to his corporate responsibilities, Joe is chairman of the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA), and a director (and former president) of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Galia Kaplan, Program Manager, USCG

Galia Kaplan has over ten years’ experience as an Officer in the U.S Coast Guard. She has lived in the US, UK and Spain and has traveled extensively. She received her bachelor’s degree in Maritime Studies from Cardiff University in Wales and a MBA from ESADE while living in Spain. She is trilingual; fluent in French, Spanish and English. After working as the Facility Security Manager for Energia Logistics US (which is a spacecraft launch service that uses a mobile sea platform for equatorial launches of commercial satellites) and participated in 4 launches, she was employed as VP of Operations with Amergent Techs, a company providing safety, security and environmental services to the transportation and energy industries. She is now working for the US Coast Guard providing guidance and regulatory updates regarding reception facilities.

Captain Stuart Klapprott, Port Captain, Fairfield Chemical Carriers

Captain Stuart Klapprott started his sea going career on the Wild Coast of South Africa. He sailed as Master on Parcel Tankers on a worldwide trade, and then 10 years ago  came ashore to work as Port Captain / Supercargo on Houston. He currently works for Fairfield Chemical carriers as one of the Port Captains. Based in Houston he is essentially quality control for Fairfield attending all of their ships calling in the US Gulf Coast ports. The key focus of his job is ensuring cargo is worked safely and efficiently.

Steve Kozlowski, Ship Operator, Fairfield Chemical Carriers

Stephen Kozlowski began sailing as an AB/Tankerman for K-Sea Transportation in 2007 and worked his way up to 2nd Officer aboard an Ocean-Going ATB (articulated tug and barge) which carried various “clean” and “dirty” products including NAPTHA, jet fuel, crude oil, and heating oil.   Stephen left 8 years ago to pursue a shore-side career as a chemical tanker operator and has been working for Fairfield Chemical Carriers based in Wilton, CT since 2017.  He currently operates five of FCC’s ships, over-seeing every aspect of the voyage for each ship including cargo fixtures, stowage planning, bunker planning, weather routing, and monitoring the vessel’s movements in and out of every port.  

Keith LetourneauPartner, Blank Rome LLP 

Keith Letourneau is the Co-Chair of the Maritime & International Trade Practice Group at Blank Rome LLP and is also a member of the maritime Emergency Response Team (“MERT”). Keith focuses his practice on maritime and energy transactions and litigations matters. He is a retired commander of the U.S. Coast Guard and served as a trial attorney for both the U.S. Coast Guard’s Procurement Law Division and the Admiralty Section of the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Division. In addition to his focus on maritime, Keith also serves as the Co-Chair of the Blockchain Technology & Digital Currencies Group and has published articles about the industry, specifically as it relates to maritime matters.

Keegan Plaskon, Director of Business DevelopmentAmerican Bureau of Shipping 

Keegan Plaskon serves as ABS Director of Business Development for Eastern Americas, responsible for client development and strategic planning within the region.  Prior to his current role, Plaskon worked as a Marine Surveyor in both the U.S. and Korea. His 14 years at ABS range from existing vessel repair to offshore new construction.  Before joining ABS, Plaskon sailed commercially as an Engineer and is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and received his Master of Engineering from the University of Virginia.

ADM Charles Ray, Vice Commandant, USCG

Admiral Charles W. Ray assumed the duties as the 31st Vice Commandant on May 24, 2018. As the Vice Service Chief and Chief Operating Officer, Admiral Ray executes the Commandant's Strategic Intent, manages internal organizational governance and serves as the Component Acquisition Executive. Prior to this appointment, Admiral Ray served as the Deputy Commandant for Operations, responsible for establishing and providing operational strategy, policy, guidance and resources to meet national priorities for Coast Guard missions, programs and services. His previous flag officer assignments include Pacific Area Commander, Deputy Pacific Area Commander, the Fourteenth Coast Guard District Commander, service with U.S. Forces Iraq as Director of the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission for the Ministry of Interior, and the Military Advisor to the Secretary of the Department Homeland Security. A native of Newport, Arkansas, he graduated from Coast Guard Academy in 1981. After an assignment as a deck watch officer aboard Coast Guard Cutter ACUSHNET (WMEC-167), he was selected for Naval Flight Training and earned his wings in 1984. He served at six Coast Guard Air Stations from Alaska to the Caribbean accumulating over 5,000 hours of helicopter flight time. Admiral Ray was designated as an Aeronautical Engineer in 1988 and served as Engineering Officer at three stations and at the Aviation Logistics Center as the Program Manager for the development of the Coast Guard's Aviation Logistics Management System. He commanded Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen in Puerto Rico from 2002 through 2005. Admiral Ray is the longest serving active duty Coast Guard aviator which has earned him the distinction of being Coast Guard’s 25th Ancient Albatross. His staff assignments include a tour as Chief of the Office of Performance Management at Coast Guard Headquarters followed by a tour as the Chief of Staff of the Fourteenth Coast Guard District. Admiral Ray earned a Master of Science Degree in Industrial Administration from Purdue University and a Master of Science Degree in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. Admiral Ray’s personal awards include the Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal, five Legion of Merit Medals, one Bronze Star Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, one Coast Guard Air Medal, three Coast Guard Commendation Medals, and the Coast Guard Achievement Medal.

Benjamin Strong, Director of  AMVER Maritime Relations, USCG

Benjamin Strong assumed the duties as Director of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) System on March 7, 2005. Mr. Strong is responsible for the overall direction, management, planning, coordination and administration of the Coast Guard’s AMVER worldwide search and rescue system involving more than 20,000 commercial ships from hundreds of nations. He oversees the AMVER awards program which recognizes more than 7,000 ships annually for voluntarily making themselves available to assist in search and rescue cases. Mr. Strong is also responsible for marketing the AMVER program to the media, international government and commercial entities. Mr. Strong is a member of the U.S. delegation to the Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response working group of the Arctic Council. Mr. Strong is a career civil servant with various assignments in Federal government. Mr. Strong served as the Mass Rescue Program Manager in the U.S. Coast Guard office of Search and Rescue, Washington, DC. Prior to working for the Coast Guard Mr. Strong served as a Program Specialist in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Office of Urban Search and Rescue. While at FEMA he deployed to several national incidents including the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001 and the Space Shuttle Challenger crash in 2003.

RADM Rich Timme, Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, USCG

Rear Admiral Richard Timme serves as the Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, with the responsibility for the development of national policy, standards, and programs promoting Marine Safety, Security and Environmental Stewardship. Three Directorates carry out the mission: Inspections and Compliance, Marine Transportation Systems, and Commercial Regulations and Standards. Programs include waterways management, navigation and boating safety, ports and facilities, merchant mariner credentialing, vessel documentation, marine casualty investigation, commercial vessel inspections, and port state control. His operational experience includes serving as Commander of Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley and as Commanding Officer of Marine Safety Unit Pittsburgh. He served as a Deputy Incident Commander and Federal On-Scene Coordinator Representative during the 2010 DEEPWATER HORIZON oil spill response. 

Carleen Lyden Walker, Co-Founder and Executive Director, NAMEPA

Carleen Lyden Walker is the Co-Founder and Executive Director 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.  She works to develop strategic alliances between industry, regulators, conservation groups and educators to “Save Our Seas”.  In 2015, Ms. Lyden Walker was appointed an Ambassador by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Ms. Lyden Walker is also Chief Executive Officer of Morgan Marketing & Communications, is Chief Evolution officer of SHIPPINGInsight, founder of CARIBMEPA and the Co-Founder/Executive Director of the Consortium for International Maritime Heritage.


To view the presentations, click the links. 

1400 Welcome and Opening Remarks: 

Joe HughesChairman & CEO of Shipowners Claims Bureau (The American Club) and Chairman of NAMEPA 

Update on Safety Actions:
RADM Rich Timme, Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, USCG

Implications for Shipping of Remote Working and the "New Normal":
Keegan Plaskon, Director of Business Development, American Bureau of Shipping 

Increased Digitalization = Increased Cyber Risk: 
Cynthia Hudson,  CEO & Founder HudsonCyber 

Challenges for Shipowners:
Clinton Webb, Senior Manager of Corporate Development and Strategy, Dorian LPG Ltd. 

1515 Coffee/Tea Break 

1545 Challenges and Opportunities

Piracy in 2020 -  Practical perspectives and protection:  
Joe Hughes, Chairman & CEO of Shipowners Claims Bureau (The American Club) and Chairman of NAMEPA 

Risks in Today's Maritime Arena:
Keith Letourneau, Partner, Blank Rome

An Owner's Safety Concerns:
Steven Kozlowski, Ship Operator, Fairfield Chemical Carriers
Captain Stuart Klapprott, Port Captain, Fairfield Chemical Carriers

Supporting the Mariner: 
Rev. Marsh Drege, President of NAMMA (North American Maritime Ministry Association) 

1650 Conference Wrap-up:

Carleen Lyden Walker,  Co-Founder/Executive Director, NAMEPA 

1700 Introduction of Benkert and AMVER Awards

ADM Charles Ray, Vice CommandantUSCG 

1710 Presentation of the Benkert Awards: 

ADM Charles Ray and Galia Kaplan, Program Manager, USCG

1730 Presentation of the AMVER Awards: 

ADM Charles Ray and Benjamin StrongDirector AMVER Maritime Relations, USCG

1800 Conclusion 

Conference Sponsors

ABSa 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 safe and practical application of advanced technologies and digital solutions, ABS works with industry and clients to develop accurate and cost-effective compliance, optimized performance and operational efficiency for marine and offshore assets. ABS delivers survey and engineering services and solutions to clients through a network of local representatives working from more than 200 offices in 70 countries.


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.



With more than 600 attorneys serving clients across the globe, Blank Rome represents businesses and organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-up entities around the globe. 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 and procurement; 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.  


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. 



Clay Maitland has worked in the shipping industry since graduation from law school in 1968. Clay has been employed by International Registries, Inc. for 39 years and is now a managing partner of the company, which administers the Marshall Islands Ship Registry – the third largest registry in the world.  He is President of the Trust Company of the Marshall Islands (TCMI), the statutory Maritime Administrator of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.  Prior to the year 2000, Clay held similar positions with regard to the maritime administration of the Republic of Liberia. Among his other affiliations: Director of the Coast Guard Foundation and the Coast Guard Auxiliary Foundation; Member of the American Bureau of Shipping and of the National Cargo Bureau; Founding Chairman of the North American Maritime Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA); Chairman of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce; Chairman of New York Maritime Inc. (NYMAR); Chairman of the Merchant Marine Policy Coalition (MMPC); Chairman of the North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMMA) Industry Advisory Council; Chairman of the Maritime Industries Academy Foundation (Baltimore Harbor School); Member of the American Bar Association, New York City Bar Association and Maritime Law Association of the United States; former Chairman of the National Maritime Historical Society; former Chair of the Admiralty Committee of the New York City Bar Association, and of the Committee on Intergovernmental Organizations of the Maritime Law Association of the United States (MLA). Clay has served as a delegate to the Legal Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Clay received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the State University of New York Maritime College in 2006, and was awarded the U.S. Coast Guard’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 2010.


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. 


HudsonCyber is a division of HudsonTrident and is a global leader in delivering cyber risk management services supporting governments and commercial companies in understanding, managing and mitigating in their enterprise cyber risk. From assessment and training, to tailored threat intelligence services and the design and implementation of cost-effective, sustainable cyber risk management solutions, we support clients spanning the global maritime transportation industry, which includes ports, shipping, oil/gas companies (both national and commercial), flag states insurance brokers and underwriters, and national and regional government bodies. Leveraging the cloud and over 30 years of global maritime risk management expertise, HudsonCyber’s innovative HACyberLogix and CyberHelm platforms deliver critical, recurring decision-support insights to empower some of the world’s leading maritime operators.  

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