NORFOLK -- A special ceremony was held Friday in memory of all merchant mariners who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Just before noon, members of the Norfolk Propeller Club tossed a wreath into the Elizabeth River while tugs from Moran and McAllister fired their water hoses and blasted their horns.

6,700 merchant seaman died during World War Two.

In the audience at the luncheon at Half Moone Terminal was the Captain of the Maersk Alabama, who relieved Captain Richard Phillips after the pirate incident in April. He says Capt. Phillips had only been on Maersk-Alabama for a week.

'He relieved me on March 31st and April 8 he got captured and I was back onboard April 12,' said Capt Larry Aasheim.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaugton spoke at the event, highlighting the importance of the Hampton Roads maritime industry.

'Almost 350,000 jobs and $41 billion in economic activity are occuring here in the Hampton Roads region and across the Commonwealth,' he stated.

A memorial service to honor merchant mariners will be held Saturday at the National Basilica in Washington D.C.

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