Capt. James McNamara ’64, an internationally recognized leader of the maritime industry, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at SUNY Maritime College’s commencement January 26.
McNamara will receive the honorary degree in recognition of his professional accomplishments, his commitment to his alma mater, and his devotion to the maritime industry, in particular to issues involving safety, education and training.
“The totality of Capt. McNamara’s career provides evidence that he uniquely personifies the college’s mission to educate leaders to excel in the global maritime environment,” said Rear Adm. Michael Alfultis, president of SUNY Maritime. “We are honored and excited to give Capt. McNamara this honorary degree on behalf of the State University of New York.”
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation from SUNY Maritime, then known as New York State Maritime College, McNamara went to sea as a third mate. He rose through the ranks and became a ship’s master in the shortest possible time.
In 1970, he started an on-shore career at National Cargo Bureau. The non-profit organization is committed to keeping mariners safe at sea by assisting the U.S. Coast Guard meet international safety regulations related to cargo stowage, handling, securing, loading and unloading. McNamara worked at several ports before becoming chief surveyor in 1988. He was named president of the organization in 1993 and retired in 2010.
Throughout his career at National Cargo Bureau, McNamara was instrumental in advancing national and international initiatives to improve the safety and security of crew and cargo at sea. For example, following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, McNamara supported tightening the nation’s cargo oversight regimes with the implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code and the U.S. Maritime Security Act.
In addition to responsibility for National Cargo Bureau’s New York City headquarters, McNamara was in charge of the operations and management of the organization’s 15 regional U.S. offices. His keen understanding of the unique challenges presented by transporting goods by sea allowed him to lead the company through a time of unprecedented change, including the exponential expansion of containerization and the development of a highly sophisticated intermodal transportation system.
McNamara served as chairman of the International Maritime Organization Cargo Committee for eight years and was nominated by the federal government to serve as chairman of the IMO Subcommittee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers.
During his tenure as president of the National Cargo Bureau, McNamara was recognized by the Chamber of Shipping of America as in individual who made exceptional achievements toward merchant mariner safety.
Following his retirement, he was honored at the 2014 Seamen’s Church Institute’s Silver Bell Awards Dinner with a lifetime achievement award for his dedication to improving the maritime industry. Among his other recognitions are two distinguished public service awards from the U.S. Coast Guard.
The international maritime community also recognized McNamara for his efforts to keep the men and women who work on commercial vessels safe. He served as chairman of the International Maritime Organization Cargo Committee for eight years and was nominated by the federal government to serve as chairman of the IMO Subcommittee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers.
Through his long and distinguished career, McNamara remained connected to his alma mater.
He is the chairman of the Maritime Industry Museum at Fort Schuyler and serves on one of the college’s industry advisory boards. He was inducted into the college’s Heritage Hall, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the college. He has served on the Admiral’s Scholarship Dinner Committee and was recognized at the 1994 scholarship dinner. The dinner is the college’s largest annual event and raises significant funds to support student scholarships. McNamara also served for two years as president of the SUNY Maritime College Alumni Association.