SCARSDALE, N.Y. -- Fourth-graders at Edgewood School in Scarsdale had the opportunity to learn about latitude and longitude, the fierceness of the world’s oceans, and the workings of huge ocean liners during a recent visit and presentation by Captain Ian T. Blackley, president and CEO of Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG).
Blackley, who is married to Edgewood teacher Marilyn Blackley, worked at sea for 20 years, serving as captain for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company from 1987 to 1991.
The students invited Blackley as part of their study of the Age of Exploration.
Blackley entertained students with drawings and photos of the inside of historic and modern-day ships, and brought along a modern-day sextant, used by sailors to find a ship’s location using the sun or stars and the horizon before the age of modern navigation systems.
He stumped students when he asked about the coordinates 41”0’ North and 73”47’ West –which, as it turns out, is the location (latitude and longitude) of Scarsdale.
OSG’s ships, he said, which transport oil and natural gas, are between 800 and 1,100 feet long, the size of three football fields. Despite their huge size, most are manned by only 23 staff members, so everyone has to be trained in a variety of jobs, including firefighting, sailing and lifesaving, he explained.
All seagoing staff and vessels must adhere to a “code of honor” while at sea, which requires them to aid any other vessel that is in trouble. said Blackley. On one occasion, he said an OSG ship rescued seven fishermen who had been stranded on the ocean without food or water for a week.
One of his company’s ships rescued hundreds of refugees stranded in the Mediterranean Sea.
Blackley started his career on the water as a cadet at age 16, eventually being promoted to positions like third mate, first mate, chief mate and captain. He ended his career on ships 26 years ago when he joined OSG.