In an atmosphere full of excitement, at the Yacht Club of Greece, hundreds of supporters and friends, along with Mrs Fotini P. Livanos, celebrated on Tuesday 6 June, 35 years of operation of the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association-HELMEPA, founded on the initiative of the late George P. Livanos.
Members of the Parliament, State officials, members of the Diplomatic Corps, the Hellenic Coast Guard Commandant, the Chief of the Fleet, the President of the UGS, former Chairmen of HELMEPA, members of the Greek and international maritime community, Presidents and Directors of AUSMEPA-Australia, CYMEPA-Cyprus, NAMEPA-North America êáé TURMEPA-Turkey as well as representatives of Greek and foreign shipping press honored the event, which was coordinated by the journalist Ms Niki Lymberaki.
The TV spot with the "Seagull" of 1984, a video with facts and achievements of the 35year long work of HELMEPA and the presenter's statement that her generation grew up with the message "no garbage, no plastic in the seas and on beaches", provided the basis upon which Dr. George Gratsos, Chairman of the Board of Directors presented a brief account of the association's work in his address. He referred to the voluntary contribution of HELMEPA in the maritime training of Greek officers, the environmental awareness of the wider public and the students as well as the creation of similar associations in 7 more countries.
"Shipowners and seafarers, inspired by George P. Livanos, co-signed in 1982 a joint declaration with which HELMEPA operates and will continue to do so as long as Greek shipping exists" , emphasized Dr Matthaios D. Los, Founding Member of the association and Treasurer of the Union of Greek Shipowners.
On behalf of the 15,000 Greek member seafarers, the President of Union of Masters and Mates of the Greek Merchant Marine, Captain Manolis Tsikalakis, underlined that "Greek mariners believe in HELMEPA, which with its work contributed also in their being treated with respect by national maritime administrations."
"The work and example of HELMEPA offer Greece a special distinction, comparable to the advantageous position of the Greek owned fleet within global shipping. It took the vision, creativity and faith of a great Greek shipowner and patriot - George P. Livanos - for Greece to express the best its maritime tradition has to show" stated Mr. Basil Phr. Papachristidis, second HELMEPA Chairman, in his address read by Ms. Lymberaki.
Honoring Mr. Andreas Potamianos, who served HELMEPA's goals for a number of years as Member of the Board, Dr. G. Gratsos bestowed him a commemorative placard. In his thanking address, Mr. Potamianos praised the vision of the late G.P. Livanos and spoke on HELMEPA's achievements through his personal experiences, specifically at the beginning.
Also honored at the event was Captain John Tsenembis, associate member of HELMEPA since 1983, first and for many years instructor at the association's seminars. In his brief speech, he referred to his personal memories from the first years of this initiative of Greek shipping, which he still serves. Presenting him with a commemorative placard, Mr. Paul Ioannidis, associate Member and Member of the first Board of Directors, stressed the fact that HELMEPA was the first to accept and implement in its training the safety spirit with which the global aviation industry was already operating.
Moving on from maritime training to the environmental education of children, Mr. Nikos Tsakos, former Chairman of HELMEPA, presented Mrs Carmen Constantakopoulos with a commemorative placard in appreciation of the support of her late husband Capt. Vassilis Constantakopoulos to "HELMEPA Junior" program, which is continued by his sons and Costamare Shipping. Mrs Constantakopoulos expressed her warm gratitude to all those who contribute to the environmental awareness of the younger generation.
HELMEPA was exposed for the first time to the international shipping in 1985, participating in the Seatrade exhibition in New York and since then is present at every "Posidonia" with the initiative of their founder Mr. Themistocles Vokos, Honorary Member of HELMEPA. In his address, Mr. Vokos expressed his admiration to the vision of George Livanos and all the contributors to the successful evolution of the association, to what it offers to maritime training and environmental education and wished that this work continues for many years to come.
The Commandant of the Hellenic Coast Guard, Vice-Admiral Stamatis Raptis referred to the long standing cooperation of the Coast Guard with HELMEPA. Similarly, Vice-Admiral Ioannis Pavlopoulos, Chief of the Fleet, thanked the association for the gratis participation of Hellenic Navy personnel in its training programs.
First classification Associate Member was American Bureau of Shipping-ABS and on the reasons for which they supported this voluntary initiative from the very beginning, referred Mr. Dimitris Houliarakis, at the time prominent member of ABS staff.
Significant to the successful growth of HELMEPA was and remains the contribution of Associate Member Companies. Commemorative honorary placards were presented to the representatives of the first 3 Associate Members as well as for the extra support to HELMEPA's needs. To Mr. Vassilios Kroustallis, Senior Vice President, ABS Europe, to Mr. George Teriakidis, Regional Business Development Manager, DNV GL and Mr. Theodossis Stamatellos, Area Manager, Greece, East Mediterranean and Adriatic, Lloyd's Register. All of them in their respective addresses praised the association for its constant voluntary contribution to shipping and the wider community, renewing their commitment to continue supporting it in the future.
Congratulations and wishes for continuation of its work expressed also to the Members of the Board and the Secretariat of HELMEPA the 300 Greek and foreign guests who honored the event during the reception that followed, closing a enjoyful evening. The guests were offered, as a symbolic souvenir of the 35th anniversary, the special, well designed in English issue of "Naftika Chronika", which its editors had the initiative of dedicating to the 35 years of HELMEPA with data derived from the association's records.