Puget Sound Maritime Award Recipients Named

Debbie Granger and Steve Metruck
Debbie Granger and Steve Metruck
Debbie Granger, long-time member of the Working Waterfront Coalition of Whatcom County (left) and Port of Seattle Executive Director Steve Metruck, right. Photo: Port of Seattle.

Port of Seattle Executive Director Steve Metruck was named Puget Sound Maritime Public Official of the Year, and Debbie Granger, a long-time member of the Working Waterfront Coalition of Whatcom County, was presented the annual Puget Sound Maritime Achievement Award, during the annual Seattle Maritime Day Breakfast.

The breakfast, presented by Crowley Maritime, was sponsored by the Seattle Propeller Club and Port of Seattle.

“Both Steve and Deb have been tireless advocates for the working waterfront and their passion, leadership and energy have contributed immensely to the success of our region’s maritime industry,” said Tosca Pinder, Seattle Propeller Club president and associate vice president, for property and casualty, maritime at Newfront Insurance.

“In his four years as executive director, Steve has brought to bear his decades of maritime experience and his outstanding leadership qualities to build a shared vision with the Port Commission to create a stronger, more sustainable regional economy,” Port of Seattle Commissioner Toshiko Grace Hasegawa, who announced the award, said. “Clearly, his service has made a significant and lasting contribution to maritime commerce in the Pacific Northwest.”

With 34 years of service in the U.S. Coast Guard, and four years at the helm of the port, Metruck “has played a key role in building a stronger, resilient, and more competitive port, creating jobs and economic opportunities throughout the region,” Hasegawa said.

She also noted that Metruck “led the port through the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring no interruption of essential aviation and maritime operations and moving ahead with critical capital construction.”

“He has built a solid partnership with the Port Commission to advance the port as an engine for sustainable and equitable economic development,” Hasegawa said.

Pinder said the Seattle Propeller Club’s Public Official of the Year Award recognizes the contributions and support of a local, state or federal policymaker who has demonstrated leadership, understanding and appreciation of the maritime industry, adding that the Puget Sound Maritime Achievement Award recognizes the club’s “person of the year” for their contribution to enhancing the vitality of the working waterfront.

Debbie Granger is a long-time member of the Working Waterfront Coalition of Whatcom County, with highly visible contributions throughout the community.

“Debbie’s work has been essential to the success of our organization. Her knowledge and work ethic set a remarkably high bar,” said Jim Kyle, president of the coalition, who presented her award.

Her accomplishments include establishing Bellingham SeaFeast as a signature waterfront and seafood festival celebrating Whatcom County’s maritime culture, helping launch Bellingham Dockside Market as a hub for local fishermen to provide direct seafood sales out of Squalicum Harbor, and extensive fundraising efforts to support a new Fisheries and Aquaculture Center for Bellingham Technical College.

Granger has worked in education, fish processing, public relations, marketing, fundraising and event management. Her last full-time job was with the University of Washington, where she managed a 12-state aquaculture research consortium.

After retiring, Debbie and her husband Pete, a commercial fisherman, returned to Whatcom County where they continue to fish with salmon reefnet gear off Lummi Island. She’s currently working to establish a Northwest Maritime Apprenticeship Program to help meet the shortage of qualified employees in the marine trades industry.

She is one of only three women to have won the Puget Sound Maritime Achievement Award since its inception in 1951.

“On behalf of the Port of Bellingham, I’d like to congratulate Debbie Granger on winning the 2022 Puget Sound Maritime Achievement Award,” POB Executive Director Rob Fix said. “Debbie is a tremendous advocate for Whatcom County’s working waterfront and her passion and energy for marine trades is second to none.”

“Debbie has made numerous and meaningful contributions to our marine trades community,” he continued, “and the Puget Sound Maritime Achievement Award is well deserved.”