December 13, 2022
Opening Remarks by AIT Director Oudkirk at 2022 Award Ceremony for the U.S. Coast Guard’s
Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) Program
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Southern Taiwan Office Director-General Shen, Taiwan International Ports Corporation Port of Kaohsiung President Wang, Fisheries Agency Deep Sea Fishery Research and Development Center Director Wu, Maritime and Port Bureau Southern Maritime Affairs Center Director Chang, Brogent Group Chairman Ouyang, Kaohsiung International Shipowners Association Chairman Kuo, representatives of Ocean Affairs Council, Coast Guard Administration, and fishery associations leaders, ladies and gentlemen, shipmates, members of the media, and most notably, award recipients, wu ān!
Today, we are here to recognize the crews from 36 Taiwan-flagged or -owned vessels that participated in the United States Coast Guard-supported Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) program in 2021. This U.S. Coast Guard-led program coordinates emergency assistance to vessels on the high seas, with the cooperation and support of private sector shipping and fishing companies.
The idea for the AMVER program is linked to a famous maritime disaster that occurred over 100 years ago. On April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and began taking on water. Ships passing within sight of the damaged vessel were completely unaware that it was sinking. These ships saw the distress flares from the Titanic, but thought those were merely part of the maiden voyage celebrations. What happened to the Titanic is well known to all. Lesser known is that the U.S. Coast Guard created the AMVER program to avoid a repeat of this kind of tragedy at sea.
Since its founding, the AMVER program has grown and evolved into an effective tool for improving global maritime search and rescue efforts. Over the last two decades alone, the AMVER program has resulted in over 2,800 lives saved at sea, a truly amazing accomplishment.
The main point of today’s ceremony is to recognize the people who make this program so effective – our partners in the private sector. Without their support and participation, there would be no AMVER program. The eight individuals being recognized today represent the crews of 36 Taiwan-flagged or -owned vessels that reported their positions at sea into the AMVER system at least 128 days in 2021.
Some are earning their first AMVER award this year. I am also going to recognize some multiple award winners from last year’s ceremony, who have participated in the program for 10, 20, even 30 years.
Whether it is a commercial ship saving stranded fishers, a container ship saving the crew of a damaged yacht, or a cruise ship saving migrants looking for a better life, AMVER vessels are ready to help those in need on the high seas. The participation of these Taiwan-flagged or -owned vessels in the AMVER program exemplifies the strength of U.S.-Taiwan cooperation in maritime security and safety and provides yet another example of Taiwan’s important contribution to the global community.
To those ships or companies not enrolled in the AMVER program, I hope that you will draw inspiration from the brave men and women represented here today and join the ranks of AMVER ships who are helping their fellow mariners. AIT looks forward to working with our government and private sector partners today to further expand Taiwan’s participation in this important security program.
Now, please join me in congratulating our AMVER award recipients.