"The real reward is being able to work with the Seamen's Church Institute to better the lives of seafarers..."
Watch the whole interview with ADM Charles Michel, just before accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award from the Seamen's Church Institute:
As part of the 41st Annual Silver Bell Awards Dinner celebrations, the Seamen’s Church Institute honored Admiral Charles (Chuck) Michel of the US Coast Guard (USCG) with the Lifetime Achievement Award. ADM Michel retired from the USCG on July 1, 2018. His illustrious career culminated in his becoming the first four-star Vice Commandant in Coast Guard history, and also the first career judge advocate in any of the Armed Forces to achieve four-star rank.
The Director of SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights, Douglas B. Stevenson, has worked closely with ADM Michel in various capacities over the years. As he presented the award, Doug spoke of ADM Michel’s “genuine concern and compassion for protecting seafarers’ rights”, his diplomatic skills, and his “deep-rooted sense of justice”, describing Chuck’s role in developing international requirements to combat the problem of seafarer abandonment. Additionally, Doug described how ADM Michel helped create legislation establishing a fund, paid for by ship owners convicted of pollution crimes, that protects seafarers’ wages, living expenses, and repatriation when abandoned in the United States.
A native of Brandon, FL, ADM Michel graduated with high honors from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Engineering in 1985. In 1992, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law as the salutatorian, receiving membership in the Order of the Coif. Michel’s career progressed from there; previous flag officer assignments including Deputy Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area; Director, Joint Interagency Task Force South; Military Advisor to the Secretary of Homeland Security; and Director for Governmental and public Affairs, U.S. Coast Guard.
Prior to his appointment as Vice Commandant, ADM Michel served as the Deputy Commandant for Operations, responsible for establishing guidance and resources to meet national priorities for U.S. Coast Guard missions, programs and services. He assumed the duties as the 30th Vice Commandant in August 2015.
In his acceptance speech, ADM Michel stated that the work that he has done for seafarers’ rights, particularly in collaboration with the Seamen’s Church Institute, ranks among his proudest accomplishments over the course of his four decades of government service with the Coast Guard.
ADM Michel spoke of seafarers as a “uniquely vulnerable class of workers,” often invisible due to their very professionalism, but facing various challenges such as hazardous sea conditions, pirates, and abandonment among others. He stated, “It is part of the pinnacle of my career to be able to work with the Seamen’s Church Institute. SCI is amongst the most selfless organizations I’ve ever worked for –they’ve dedicated their efforts over many years to the protection of seafarers. Thank you very much for providing me with a capstone to my career.”
As ADM Michel retires from the USCG, SCI celebrates his career dedicated to championing mariners. It has been a privilege to count ADM Michel as a close friend and a supporter of SCI over the years, and we look forward to continuing that relationship into the future.