Walter Blessey Jr., chairman of Blessey Marine Services Inc., received the Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award during the spring convention of The American Waterways Operators (AWO) in Washington, D.C., April 11.
The award was presented by Rear Adm. John Nadeau, Coast Guard assistant commandant for prevention policy.
Blessey was honored for his contributions to the inland marine transportation industry, including his decades-long involvement with AWO. Blessey “was an active voice in a broad array of AWO policies, plans and projects,” the award citation read, and devoted a good deal of company resources and personnel to AWO safety programs. “… His keen insight, combined with his tremendous political network, were instrumental in promoting legislative initiatives to ensure regulatory authorities were endowed with the resources to effectively oversee and manage the maritime transportation system.”
The citation called Blessey “a staunch safety advocate and steadfast supporter of environmental best practices,” and said he played a pivotal role in developing a comprehensive training program for Coast Guard Academy cadets in the “brownwater” aspects of the marine industry. Under his leadership, Blessey Marine became the first large inland marine company to achieve 100 percent compliance in the Coast Guard’s Voluntary Inspection Program.
Caption for photo (click on photo for full image): From left, Clark Todd, Blessey Marine Services president and chief operating officer; Scott Merritt, American Waterways Operators chairman; Walter Blessey Jr.; and Rear Adm. John Nadeau, Coast Guard assistant commandant for prevention policy.