Congressman John M. Murphy Presented With Maritime Industry's 'AOTOS' Award
P r e s e n t a t i o n of the coveted AOTOS (Admiral of the Ocean Sea) Award was made to Congressman John M. Murphy, Chairman of the Merchant Marine & Fisheries Committee, for his distinguished service to the maritime industry. The award was presented to Congressman Murphy at a dinner-dance in the New York Hilton on September 22, amid an industry gathering of nearly 1,000 top leaders in government, labor, military and industry.
Congressman Murphy, in his remarks, re-emphasized this country's maritime plight, reiterating that American-flag ships have found it increasingly difficult to compete with "unfair and predatory rate-cutting in practices by state-owned fleets seeking to accumulate hard foreign currency, increase American and Western nation trade deficits, and generally disrupt the conference system." Mr. Murphy emphasized the need for a new program to develop an American-flag dry-bulk fleet. He pointed out that aside from government-generated traffic, only about 1 or 2 percent of this country's dry-bulk trade moves in American-flag vessels. Mr. Murphy has the distinct honor of having been chosen to chair the Ad Hoc Select Committee on the Outer Continental Shelf, with the specific purpose of updating antiquated laws regarding the development of offshore oil and gas resources under the ocean floor, thus making him the only man in Congress to chair two full committees. President Carter recently signed the offshore legislation into law. Congressman Murphy, the 10th recipient of this prestigious award, is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, and served with great distinction as an officer in the Ninth Infantry Regiment of the Second Infantry Division during the Korean Conflict.
In addition to the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, Mr. Murphy holds this nation's highest award for valor in combat — the Distinguished Service Cross.
Having spent the past 16 years in service to his country, Representative Murphy was first elected to Congress in 1962, representing the 17th Congressional District of New York, and has been reelected to each succeeding Congress. "Admiral of the Ocean Sea" (AOTOS) was originally conferred on Christopher Columbus upon his return from discovering the New World in 1493. The title was revived by United Seamen's Service in 1970, when it sponsored the first AOTOS Award to honor the man who, each year, has done the most to promote the cause of American-flag shipping. Former recipients were: the late James A. Farrell Jr., chairman of Farrell Lines (1977) ; the Honorable Robert J. Blackwell, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Maritime Affairs ( 1 9 7 6 ) ; Senator Warren J. Magnuson, Washington (1975) ; Thomas W. Gleason, ILA president (1974) ; Congresswoman Leonor K. Sullivan, former Chairman, House Merchant Marine & Fisheries Committee (1973) ; Andrew E. Gibson, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce f o r Maritime A f f a i r s (1972) ; Helen Delich Bentley, former Chairman, Federal Maritime Commission (1971) ; the late Spyros P. Skouras (1970), and Joseph E. Curran, former NMU president, Special Award (1973). The AOTOS Legend It was the rebirth of classical Greek and Roman knowledge in Renaissance Spain, joined with Columbus's global venture, that inspired King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to give Columbus the title "Admiral of the Ocean Sea" upon his return to Spain in 1493. Columbus had traveled the fabled "Okeanos," the great river of water around the world (according to Homer), and sailed under "Okeanos," the god of the outer waters. He returned with the discovery of the New World and proof as well that the world was round — a great new beginning. The title "Admiral of the Ocean Sea" was prophetic in that Columbus's voyage opened up the New World and began two centuries of maritime exploration that carried ships and seamen to every part of the world and established the roots of America's shipping heritage.
The title belonged strictly to Columbus and his family until 1970, when the United Seamen's Service began sponsoring the Admiral of the Ocean Sea (AOTOS) Award. Since then, with the cooperation of the entire maritime industry, the person who has done the most to advance the cause of American-flag shipping each year has been named "Admiral of the Ocean Sea," and presented with this coveted award. The AOTOS recipient is selected by a committee of maritime labor, management and government leaders.
The AOTOS Award is a silver statuette of Christopher Columbus with his hand resting on his ship's anchor. Each year, it is cast in Genoa, Italy, just two blocks from the place of this famous mariner's birth, and brought to the United States on an American ship.