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From left at the 2021 AOTOS Dinner are MTD Pres Michael Sacco, So Fla PMC Pres Paul Doell and USTRANSCOM Commander USAF Gen Jacqueline Van Ovost.

The head of the U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) told an enthusiastic audience of U.S.-flag maritime union and business representatives, “You are America’s economic lifeline during peacetime. You are true patriots.”

U.S. Air Force General Jacqueline D. Van Ovost addressed the annual Admiral of the Ocean Sea dinner in New York City on December 3. Sponsored by the United Seamen’s Service, the event honors leaders in the U.S.-flag maritime industry. Among its awardees this year was Seafarers Union Secretary-Treasurer (and International Transport Workers’ Federation Seafarer Section Chair) David Heindel.

Referring to the U.S-flag fleet and the men and women who crew the vessels, Van Ovost said, “The Department of Defense relies on you to deliver our decisive military force – a job you have done for decades. This industry is critical to advancing American interests. As a seafaring nation, our country has been, and is, and will continue to be reliant on the strength of the maritime industry and the many mariners who are known for their determination, their grit and selfless service.”

The TRANSCOM Commander added, “Programs such as the Tanker Security Program, the Maritime Security Program and the Jones Act ensure that we have reliable access to industry capabilities to meet our needs.”

She emphasized the relationship between the public and private sectors, their shared goals, and the value of regular sealift exercises. She underscored the importance of “minimizing our reliance on foreign entities.”

The general concluded, “I could not be more proud of the relationship between TRANSCOM and the maritime industry. We value the U.S. mariners operating U.S. vessels, and we recognize the important role our mariners play in the strength of our nation.”

Among the nearly 600 attending the dinner were officials from six Port Maritime Councils including South Florida PMC President Paul Doell, New York/New Jersey PMC President Joseph Soresi, Cleveland PMC President John Baker, Montreal PMC President Albert Batten, San Francisco PMC Secretary-Treasurer Nick Celona and Delaware Valley PMC Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Baselice as well as MTD President Michael Sacco and Executive Secretary-Treasurer Daniel Duncan.