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Posted: June 21, 2018

Jones Act carriers recognized for Puerto Rico relief efforts following Hurricane Maria

The following is excerpted from an article released by the Seamen's Church Institute. The awards were presented during SCI's Silver Bell Awards Dinner on June 6 in New York, an event that raises funds to support SCI programs, including advocacy, continuing education and training, and chaplaincy for merchant mariners who arrive at America's ports and work on U.S. inland waterways.

SCI honored three companies, Crowley Maritime, TOTE, and Trailer Bridge Inc. with the Humanitarian Award for their relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. David Rider, president and executive director of SCI, presented the awards.

Two hours after the U.S. Coast Guard reopened San Juan Harbor, Jones Act shipping line Crowley Maritime began discharging supplies off barges with commercial and government relief. Since then, Crowley has operated almost 24/7 serving Puerto Rico. Transporting more than 100,000 TEUs of relief and recovery supplies, Crowley has delivered more than 40,000 poles to restore the power supply and more than 7,000 transformers for the electrical grid, plus power restoration equipment, oversized drill, bridge rebuilding supplies, fuel trucks and 177,000 barrels of Jet A-1 Fuel. Tom Crowley gave remarks on behalf of Crowley Maritime, highlighting the part played by many other companies in the relief efforts, which he described as "a story not told." José Nazario spoke movingly about the devastation caused to Puerto Rico, but also the commitment of his fellow Crowley employees, 96 percent of whom arrived at work in the day following the hurricane, ready to help with the relief efforts.

One day after the port re-opened after the hurricane, TOTE offloaded two ships carrying more than 2,000 containers with relief cargo. Since then, TOTE has delivered more than 59,000 containers and participated in and hosted more than 25 community giving events, which have supported more than 19,500 individuals from some of the hardest hit areas. Thus far, TOTE has delivered more than 20 million gallons of water; 1.5 million bags of ice; 8,000 generators; 255 utility trucks and equipment and more than 60,000 water filters in cooperation with Operation Agua. As he accepted TOTE's award, Eduardo Pagan spoke of the U.S. maritime industry's commitment to caring for and supporting the island through both relief efforts and into the rebuilding phase, mentioning many organizations that had cooperated. He also spoke of how the TOTE team worked around the clock, not just for the island communities generally but also ensuring that their employees were cared for in whatever way necessary.

Trailer Bridge began filling containers with relief supplies to send to Puerto Rico to help its employees, friends, families and neighbors as Hurricane Maria's impending landfall was making news. To date, the company has spent more than $1 million on water, food, generators and other supplies and has worked to keep containers of relief and recovery supplies flowing working alongside government agencies, contractors and humanitarian organizations. Accepting the award on behalf of Trailer Bridge, Indie Bollman spoke of the family ethos of the company, thanking the company's CEO Mitch, who preemptively took the decision to fill containers with aid supplies when advance weather reports started to arrive.

Bollman echoed the words of the other award recipients in acknowledging what a team endeavor the relief and recovery efforts were, and praising the people of Puerto Rico for their strength and heart.