Rear Adm. Steven Andersen, the Coast Guard’s Judge Advocate General and Chief Counsel, presented Mr. Douglas Stevenson with a Meritorious Public Service Award, to honor his outstanding contributions to the United States Coast Guard and to all the mariners who make their living at sea. Anderson presented the award on behalf of Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz in conjunction with the Seamen’s Church 42nd Annual Silver Bell Forum held June 6 in New York City.
As the Director, Center for Seafarers’ Rights at the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) from 1990 to 2019, Stevenson was at the forefront of the fight to protect seafarers’ rights. He labored tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of all mariners and he was instrumental in the creation of the Maritime Labor Convention of 2006, an important international agreement that established regulations to protect seafarers around the world.
Stevenson, who was a part of the U.S. delegation to the International Maritime Organization Facilitation Committee for at least 11 of the past 18 sessions, was a constant champion for mariners. He spent many years providing all manner of legal services to mariners, and he represented numerous abandoned seafarers, trapped on their vessels often far from home and under very difficult conditions, and he worked with the Coast Guard to establish the abandoned seafarers’ fund, designed to help these stranded mariners.
In addition, Stevenson was instrumental in the completion of annual shore leave surveys, which SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights has produced since 2001. The surveys are conducted for one week each year and provide an assessment of seafarers’ ability to go on shore leave in the United States. During the survey week, port chaplains from ports around the United States keep records of seafarers’ shore leave on the ships they visit. They then share their data with the Center for Seafarers’ Rights.
“The United States Coast Guard greatly values our relationship with the Seamen’s Church Institute and other organizations dedicated to seafarer welfare,” said Rear Adm. John Nadeau, assistant commandant for prevention policy, following presentation of last year’s survey. “The annual survey provides valuable insight regarding access for shore leave and highlights some of the current challenges and opportunities.”
Prior to his position with the Seaman’s Church Institute, Stevenson spent 20 years on active duty with the Coast Guard, retiring as a commander in 1990. His exceptional leadership and dedication to ensuring that voiceless mariners are heard are most heartily commended and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.
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