Rescue at Water’s Edge: The U.S. Merchant Marine Response to 9/11

Rescue at Water’s Edge: The U.S. Merchant Marine Response to 9/11

[Music] The story of tragedy
and heroism that took place on September 11, 2001,
has been told many times since that terrible day. We all know of the police
officers, firefighters, and medics who endangered
themselves, and in some cases
sacrificed their own lives, to save thousands of others. But there’s another tale of
immense courage and selflessness that remains largely untold. It’s just, everybody
just wanted to get out. Everybody was so desperate. They’re desperate because they
don’t know what’s going on, and they’re desperate because
they know they have to get out and they don’t even know
why they’re getting out. Because they’ve just heard
two planes hit those towers, and that’s it. All the roads were closed. The bridges were closed. The tunnels were
closed, and the only way to get around was by water. On one of our nation’s
darkest days, the United States Merchant
Marine provided a beacon of light. While most folks were
running away from danger, they were among the
heroes running toward it. The actions of the men and
women in the port of New York and New Jersey that day
showed what it means to be a United States
Merchant Mariner. The spirit of anyone in the
Merchant Marines is if someone’s in trouble, you immediately
go and help out. Well the primary purpose of
the tugboats is dock and ships, transporting oil barges. But that particular morning
we were to transport people that were running
for their lives. Outside my building everybody
just was running everywhere. I live on Staten Island so I
was running towards the Ferry. In response to the
planned attacks on the World Trade
Center that day, Staten Island Ferries
were used for evacuation of lower Manhattan and
through the Battery. We got passengers on the boat,
we got them on the main deck and the saloon deck,
and had everybody quiet down to give them direction
and try to calm them down. My job is the safety of
my passengers, my vessel, and my crew, and that’s what I
was concerned about that day. The boat was filled with smoke. The windows were open
like on that boat, you see on the second deck,
so the boat filled with smoke. The passengers were praying,
some of them were crying. We knew that there was a
lot of lives that was gone. And people were just
coming together. I saw people that I
ride the Ferry every day with that I finally
actually hugged and held. I believe they did a
really good job making sure that they got everybody off
the boat quickly, safely, and to whatever destination
they needed to get to. The Academy is one of the
five federal service academies operated by the Maritime
Administration of the U.S. Department
of Transportation. The Academy was crucial
initially in getting first
responders down to the site. Within an hour we
probably had 150 midshipmen and another 50 members of the
faculty and staff who were down at the waterfront
saying, “Put us on boats, get us to the city to help.” It was a bad day. I mean that’s an
understatement, but those guys at Kings Point didn’t
have to come and help. They could have stayed
back at school and nobody would
have said a word. When the chips are down,
the Kings Pointers act. And they act with a sense
of commitment and courage and character and honor and
service for this nation. I did receive a letter, probably
about a month after 9/11, from a little girl
from the West Coast, to thank me for rescuing
her father that day. And it touched me a lot. I still have that letter, and
I keep it with me and take it to work with me every day. As the World Trade
Center collapsed, and lower Manhattan became
a scene of chaos, the men and women of New York and New
Jersey’s maritime community took action – fearlessly
crossing the Hudson River, steaming full speed
towards the flames, smoke and devastation
that lay ahead. Our nation’s seafarers
transported passengers out of harm’s way, and
emergency workers, food, and medical supplies into it. All told, they helped evacuate
more than 300,000 people from lower Manhattan to safety. As bad as it was, and as
uncertain as things were that day, there were many,
many people willing to help, and willing to respond, and
willing to go into a situation that they really didn’t know
what the outcome was going to be. I don’t think I’ve ever
been prouder to be a member of the maritime community
here in New York. [Music]

12 thoughts on “Rescue at Water’s Edge: The U.S. Merchant Marine Response to 9/11

  • September 7, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Great Video, thank God for the US Merchant Marine and the Men and Women who man the Staten Island Ferries which belong to the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association (M.E.B.A.).

    This people of New York and this great nation of ours owes you guys, thank you.

  • September 7, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    @RanchGirl75 Seconded. Thank you for pointing that out.

  • September 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    ‎@3:13 those are Navy Enlisted GMATS students, not Midshipmen…

  • September 9, 2011 at 1:57 am

    USMMA/GMATS………thank you for heading "towards" danger to help. That was a bad time and we needed all the help we could get.

  • September 10, 2011 at 1:04 am

    Congress, DOT, and Secretary LaHood: Fund the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy appropriately. The Midshipmen and staff at this Federal Service Academy deserve facilities that are safe and up-to-date.

  • September 11, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Check out: BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience.

  • September 13, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    wonderful job guys, Walt Whitman and Sterling Morrison would have been proud of you. We are !

  • September 14, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Is that the SS Mormaclynx in the painting at 1:30? That was my first ship 3rd class sea term!

  • September 14, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Thank you to the Merchant Marines. You guys are always getting jipped out of the credit DUE YOU. You guys are awesome and have contributed SO MUCH to Americans from day one. People need to know who you are and what you've done for this country. God Bless You All and thank you for all you've done!

  • September 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    This is truly wonderful, would have been nice to have known about these very heroic people before now. Thanks for the info

  • November 16, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    who says twenty oh one?

  • April 27, 2012 at 1:53 am

    My grandfather was the chief engineer aboard her for almost 30 years. I'd love to see the boat some time


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