An Exceptional Team Member

28 October 2022

IRI lost an exceptional team member earlier this year. Walter Alvin Nelson III, Senior Flag State Specialist out of IRI’s Baltimore/Annapolis office passed away in a motor vehicle accident in mid-September. Cherished by his colleagues for his warm and welcoming personality as well as his true professionalism and expertise, Walt leaves a hole behind in the hearts of all who knew him. Maritime was part of the fabric of Walt’s life at an early age. His father, Wally Nelson was a Staff Officer and Instructor at the State University of New York Maritime College (SUNY Maritime) where Walt earned his master’s degree in Marine Transportation before joining IRI in 2007. Recommended by Captain Bob Fay, Senior Vice President, Marine Operations, Walt joined the organization as a Marine Investigator Assistant with Nick Makar, now Senior Vice President, Maritime Administration / Regulatory Affairs, out of the Reston office. From the beginning of his time with IRI, Walt was an asset to the IRI team, always looking to advance his knowledge and willing to take on new roles and responsibilities. He excelled at IRI and is remembered not only for his thoroughness and commitment to quality and the betterment of the RMI Registry, but also for his friendship and support of all. In 2009, Walt was promoted to Maritime Technical Specialist under Hans Molver, Senior Vice President, Investigations, and moved to IRI’s Baltimore/Annapolis office in 2010 as a Flag State Specialist under Brian Poskaitis, Senior Vice President, Fleet Operations. In this role, Walt worked closely with the global Fleet Operations Team handling flag State safety inspections along the Mid-Atlantic and beyond. He continued to thrive in this role, taking on additional responsibilities to support cross department coordination and development.

“Walt was an invaluable member of every team he touched at IRI,” noted Nick. “He was truly an exemplary person. Thoughtful, helpful, supportive, friendly, and thorough in everything he did.  Walt was a man of his word as well, so if he said he would help on something, he followed through.”

By 2018 Walt was working closely with IRI’s Technical Department and by 2021, he was collaborating and working across three key departments: Fleet Operations, Technical, and Management Systems Certification, in addition to handling data analysis for all Fleet Operations Managers. “Every region relied on Walt’s analysis,” remembered Brian. “He truly excelled at IRI and was an exceptional colleague all the way around.” Bob Fay noted that, “Walt was our most senior and reliable Duty Officer on the roster. He continually volunteered to handle holiday weeks on-call and was always capable of handling all Maritime Services Group (MSG) issues that arose. He was an invaluable asset to the MSG and deserves our sincere appreciation.”

Walt viewed his inspections and investigations work as integral to maintain safe vessel operation and was passionate about working with clients and stakeholders to advance the industry. At the time of his passing, Walt was training to become an International Safety Management and International Ship and Port Facility Security Code auditor.

Walt is fondly remembered as a true team member, always willing to support and encourage his team members inside and outside of the office. Walt was quick to volunteer for on-call and special projects and was a go-to for problem solving and solutions in key MSG areas from seafarers to radio, inspections to regulatory and technical. An enthusiastic fan of the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles, Walt was a constant presence at company picnics and events, welcoming and engaging his colleagues with his warm personality.

“Walt was an exceptional person. He was the type of guy who had a smile for everyone, who was genuine in his offers of help and support, and who truly cared for those around him. He leaves a lasting legacy in our organization, and will truly be missed,” said IRI President Bill Gallagher.

Walt was an exceptional team member and will be missed by colleagues and clients. Several IRI team members were honored to join Walt’s family for memorial services earlier this year in New York. Walt’s full obituary can be found here: