January 20, 2018
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Former Chairman of ABS Robert Somerville honored for lifetime contribution to maritime safety

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 Robert Somerville, the former chairman of the American Bureau of Shipping, has been awarded an honorary degree by Cass and City University London.

Somerville, originally from Houlton, received the doctorate for his “outstanding contribution to maritime safety” in a graduation ceremony at London’s Barbican Centre.

The American Bureau of Shipping overseas day-to-day safety issues in the shipping industry.

In a 43-year career at ABS, which included 20 years as either president or chairman, Somerville championed improvements in international standards of ship design, construction and inspection.

He was instrumental in forcing through much needed common structural rules for tankers and bulk carriers. The breakthrough was hailed as the sector’s single greatest advance in safety standards.

Accepting the degree, Somerville said:  “I am truly humbled by the honor the university has bestowed on me,” according to a press release.

He went on to applaud the “foresight, dynamism and dedication” of Professor Costas Grammenos, director of Cass Business School’s Centre for International Shipping, Trade and Finance.

“It is through his efforts that the Shipping, Trade and Finance graduates are able to embark on careers within the constantly challenging international shipping industry with a level of knowledge that was simply not available to me when I started out,” he said in the press release. 

Professor Costas Grammenos, said:  “Bob is a true leader who has been at the forefront of promoting safety and environmental improvements, as well as maritime education, across the global shipping industry.”

Professor Paul Curran, Vice-Chancellor of City University London, added: “Robert has made a lifetime contribution to enhancing safety in the maritime industry. We are proud to award him an honorary degree in recognition of his distinguished achievements.”

Somerville stepped down as ABS chairman in April, marking the longest ever period of unbroken leadership in the organization’s 151-year history.