Remarks by AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk at the 2021 Award Ceremony for the U.S. Coast Guard’s
Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel (AMVER) Program
Ocean Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chou, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Southern Taiwan Office Deputy Director-General Liu, Taiwan International Ports Corporation Chairman Lee, Fisheries Agency Deep Sea Fishery Research and Development Center Deputy Director Yang, representatives of Maritime and Port Bureau, Brogent Group, Kaohsiung International Shipowners Association, fishery associations leaders, ladies and gentlemen, shipmates, members of the media, wu ān!
Today, we are here to recognize the crews from 47 vessels that participated in the United States Coast Guard-supported AMVER program in 2020.
For those who are not familiar, AMVER stands for Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue. This U.S. Coast Guard-led program coordinates emergency assistance to vessels on the high seas, with cooperation and support from 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 unaware that it was sinking. These ships saw the distress flares from the Titanic, but thought they were merely part of the maiden voyage celebrations. The U.S. Coast Guard created the AMVER program to avoid a repeat of this kind of tragedy at sea.
I think it is fair to say that the program has exceeded expectations. Over the last two decades, the AMVER program has resulted in over 2,800 lives saved at sea, a truly amazing accomplishment.
Today we are here 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 seven individuals being recognized today represent the crews of 47 Taiwan-flagged or owned vessels that reported their positions at sea into the AMVER system at least 128 days in 2020. Some are earning their first AMVER award. Some are multiple award winners, who have participated in the program for 10, 20, even 30 years. Whether it is a commercial ship saving stranded fishermen, a container ship saving a yachtsman, or a cruise ship saving migrants looking for a better life, AMVER ships 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 – a reminder that when given a chance, Taiwan can help and Taiwan will help.
To those companies or ships 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 that are helping their fellow mariners. AIT looks forward to working with all our government and private sector partners here today to further expand Taiwan’s participation in this important security program.
Now, please join me in congratulating our AMVER award recipients.