Rear Adm. John Nadeau, assistant commandant for prevention policy, presented Walter Blessey Jr. with a Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award during the American Waterways Operators‘ spring convention in Washington, D.C., last week, to honor Blessey’s contributions to the inland marine transportation industry, navigation safety, environmental stewardship, and homeland security.

As chairman and chief executive officer of Blessey Marine Services Inc., Harahan, La., Blessey was an active voice in a broad array of AWO policies, plans, and projects. He served leadership roles as a past chairman of the AWO’s Inland Liquid Sector Committee and as a long-standing member of its board of directors and executive committee. He devoted an immense amount of company resources – including the detailing of a number of senior personnel to participate in AWO leadership positions – in groundbreaking industry safety task forces ranging from fugitive emission controls on tank barges to man overboard prevention best practices.

“As a staunch safety advocate and steadfast supporter of environmental best practices, Mr. Blessey spearheaded one of the most aggressive double-hulled tank barge rebuilding programs on the Gulf Coast,” Nadeau said during the award presentation. “Mr. Blessey played a pivotal role in partnering with regional Coast Guard commands in developing a comprehensive training program for Coast Guard Academy cadets and junior officers, culminating in thousands of hours of brownwater underway time for Coast Guard personnel throughout the western river system.”

Additionally, Nadeau commended Blessey for his company’s efforts to ensure that every Blessey Marine pushboat successfully participated in the Coast Guard’s Voluntary Inspection Program. Due to his mobilization efforts, Blessey Marine was recognized as the first large inland marine company to achieve 100% compliance.

“Mr. Blessey’s outstanding initiative, dedication, and leadership is in keeping with the highest traditions of public service,” Nadeau said. “The Coast Guard is sincerely grateful for all he has accomplished for the maritime community.”