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TOTE’s Morrell honored as 2013 CAMM Maritime Person of the Year

Phil Morrell, Vice President of Commercial Vessel Operations at TOTE Services was named CAMM Seattle’s 2013 Maritime Person of the Year.

By Hilary Reeves – This article first appeared in the December 2013 issue of Totem Ocean News.

“It is humbling to join such an impressive list of honorees,” Morrell said. “I’ve been a part of the Puget Sound Maritime community for many years and have a great deal of respect for the folks who have been named before, as well as the U.S. Licensed Officers that CAMM represents.”

Morrell came to work for Totem Ocean Trailer Express as Marine Superintendent in April of 2002, and was involved in bringing the Orca vessels into service. Before joining Totem Ocean’s sister company in October, he was Vice President of Marine and Terminal Operations.

“We were impressed with Phil’s leadership in moving TOTE to LNG-powered ships, both through conversion and new-build.”

Captain RJ Klein

President, CAMM Seattle

For the past two years, Morrell has been working on TOTE’s effort to convert Totem Ocean’s Orca ships to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), and when in August 2012 the organization announced it was ordering two new LNG-powered container ships for the Puerto Rico trade, Morrell began working with the ship-design team on specifications and project development for the new Marlin Class vessels.

“It’s really an amazing opportunity to be on the ground level of designing a new class of vessels,” Morrell said. “We’ve said it from the beginning that TOTE might have been the first to announce its intentions to convert our fleet to LNG, but we wouldn’t be the last. We’ve already seen others in the U.S. Maritime industry following our lead.”

Morrell takes an active role in the industry and serves as a Commissioner on the Washington State Board of Pilotage. He occupies one of two industry seats on the commission, and while he is often on the other side of the aisle from the pilots, he feels the relationship is positive for many reasons.

“I have a positive and healthy respect for the importance of the Master Mariner’s role in our business,” Morrell said. “Through the commission, we are able to work together to address many issues in a mutually beneficial way.”

It was Morrell’s involvement and industry leadership that caught CAMM’s eye.

“We were impressed with Phil’s leadership in moving TOTE to LNG-powered ships, both through conversion and new-build,” said Captain RJ Klein, president of the Seattle/Pacific Northwest Area Chapter of the Council of American Master Mariners (CAMM).

Started in the fall of 1982, “Recognition Day” was created as an opportunity to honor a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the local maritime community as CAMM Seattle’s Maritime Person of the Year. Any Chapter member can nominate someone for this honor and the selection is made after an Executive Committee review of the candidates.

“As an organization, we are lucky to have Phil’s leadership and dedication to serving our customers and ships,” said John Parrott, President of Totem Ocean. “I know I can count on Phil. He lives by the philosophy ‘do the right thing.’ Often, that means making hard decisions and standing by them. He is one of the hardest-working people I know, and I’m glad to see him honored in this way.”

CAMM is a nationwide professional organization of active and retired ship masters and pilots in the American Merchant Marine. Founded in 1936 by a nucleus of distinguished American Shipmasters who felt there was a need to share their expertise with other shipmasters, the Maritime Community and the public, the Council is independent of any union, school or company and is dedicated to supporting and strengthening the United States Merchant Marine by fostering the exchange of maritime information and experiences. The Council is committed to the promotion of nautical education, the improvement of training standards, and the support of the publication of professional literature. It monitors, comments, and takes positions on local, state, federal and international legislation and regulation that affect the Master.

Recently, CAMM Seattle has made an effort to educate the non-maritime population as to the importance of maritime industry by hosting the Bob Magee Memorial Golf Tournament for the benefit of the Youth Maritime Training Association.

“I am proud to be associated with an organization that is dedicated to educating youth about the incredible careers available in the maritime industry,” said Morrell. “We are building ships that will serve the U.S. for the next thirty years or longer. It’s important that we support not just those currently making strides for our industry, but paving the way for the next generation.”

History of CAMM Maritime Person of the Year Honorees:


1982   ​Captain Harold Kildall (Kildalls Nautical School)

1983   ​Robert Campion (Radar instructor for MARAD / MM&P)

1984   ​Captain Adrian F Raynaud (Schooner Adventuress)

1985   ​Tim Dwyer (Marine Digest Owner / Editor)

1986   ​Horace McCurdy (Lockheed Shipbuilding founder, architect)

1987   ​Phil Spaulding (Naval Architect)

1988   ​Spouses of Chapter Members

1989   ​Foss Launch & Tug Company (100th Anniversary)

1990   ​B.L. Hansen (Seattle Fire Marshal)

1991   ​Joe Williamson (Maritime Photographer)

1992   ​Thomas Crowley, Sr. (Crowley Maritime  CEO / Chairman)

1993   ​Stevedore Services of America  (SSA)

1994   ​Spouses of Chapter Members

1995   ​Rollie Webb (Todd Shipyard CEO)

1996 – 2001:  Recognition Day not held during these years.

2002   ​Norm Manly (Youth Maritime Training Association Director)

2003   ​Robert Magee (TOTE Shipping CEO)

2004   ​Matt Nichols (Nichols Brother Shipyard CEO)

2005   ​Gregg Trunnell (Pacific Maritime Institute Director)

2006   ​Ms Lyn McClelland (MARAD Pacific Northwest)

2007   ​Father Tony Haycock (Seattle Catholic Seamans Club)

2008   ​Ms Pat Hartle (Maritime Heritage Champion, PSMHS)

2009  ​Captain Andrew Subcleff (Alaska Steam Captain and Pilot, Sea-PNW CAMM)

2010  ​Captain Wm Crawford (Crawford Nautical School)

2011  ​Captain Peter Chelemodes (WWII Vet  Author, Sea-PNW  CAMM)

2012  ​Captain Norm Werner (Distinguished Marine Pilot – Panama Canal, Grays Harbor, & Puget Sound – Sea-PNW ​CAMM)