Hurricane heroes, ferry rescue crew, mooring system win Plimsolls


Hurricane Harvey was a slow-moving disaster for the Gulf Coast of Texas. The storm stalled and spun for days, dropping double-digit amounts of rain that gave rise to unprecedented flooding. Wind was much less of an issue than the waters that refused to abate.

But Harvey’s initial punch in late August 2017 came faster and harder than many had predicted, with the storm making landfall as a Category 4 storm. Despite precautions by mariners and vessel operators from Brownsville to Port Arthur, many soon found themselves in danger and in need of rescue.

Cue the U.S. Coast Guard. Venturing into the fury of the storm, helicopter crews rescued dozens of people along the coast, including at least 27 from vessels that grounded or sank near Port Aransas, one of the hardest-hit areas. For their courage and dedication in support of the maritime industry, Professional Mariner is recognizing the Coast Guard’s Texas air crews with the 2018 Samuel Plimsoll Award for Outstanding Service by an Organization.

A U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer dropped by helicopter guided the crew of the tugboat Signet Enterprise to safety in Port Aransas, Texas, during Hurricane Harvey.

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

One of the Coast Guard airmen during Harvey was Lt. Peter Schofield, who flew an MH-65 helicopter on multiple days for multiple rescues. On Aug. 26, his crews rescued mariners from two Higman Barge Lines towboats that grounded near San Jose Island and one that sank in the Lydia Ann Channel. The day before, personnel on Schofield’s aircraft hoisted 12 crewmembers to safety from the dive support vessel Gulf Justice, which grounded near Port Mansfield and began taking on water.

The Coast Guard also rescued four mariners from the tugboat Signet Enterprise, which partially sank near the Gulf Copper terminal across from Port Aransas after being hit by the drillship DPDS1, which had broken free from its moorings during the storm. A helicopter crew landed near the terminal, where a rescue swimmer “jumped into the water and one by one grabbed four people off of that boat,” Schofield told Professional Mariner in an interview last year.

The 2018 Plimsoll Award for Outstanding Service by an Individual recognizes the professionalism of NY Waterway Capt. David Dort and deck hands Gregorio Pages and Pietro Romano for their actions in a rescue in November 2017 on the Hudson River.

NY Waterway ferry Capt. David Dort, center, and crewman Gregorio Pages, left, receive recognition from Capt. Jason Tama of the U.S. Coast Guard for their efforts during a rescue last year on the Hudson River.

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

As their vessel, the ferry Thomas H. Kean, approached the Battery Park City terminal in Manhattan at about 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 3, the crew saw a man jump from an adjacent seawall into the water. Dort maneuvered the ferry toward him as Pages and Romano deployed a Jason’s cradle from the boat’s bow. A life ring also was tossed to the man, who took it and then grasped the mesh ladder, which was then hoisted onto the ferry.

“Upon retrieval, the individual refused to be rescued, and the crew had to subdue him until transfer to emergency medical services and the New York Police Department,” the Coast Guard said March 1 after presenting the mariners with a Good Samaritan Award during a ceremony in Brooklyn. Police said the man had stolen a cab and was fleeing when he jumped in the water.

The rescue was Dort’s second in the past two years. In July 2016, he spotted a man in the Hudson River near West 39th Street and directed crewmembers to pull him out of the water. Pages was involved in that rescue too, and he also helped save passengers during the “Miracle on the Hudson” on Jan. 15, 2009, when US Airways Flight 1549 ditched into the river with 155 people on board.

“The crew did an excellent job. They did what they were trained to do,” Dort said after the November rescue by Thomas H. Kean. “For us, this is all in a day’s work.”

For the 2018 Plimsoll Award for Innovation, the editors of Professional Mariner have chosen to recognize new technology from Europe that advances efficiency and sustainability in shipping: Cavotec’s wireless induction charging and automated mooring system, developed in partnership with Wartsila.

Cavotec’s wireless induction charging and automated mooring system, developed in partnership with Wartsila, holds promise for the future of in-port electrification to reduce vessel emissions.

Courtesy Cavotec

The vacuum-based MoorMaster system allows a ship to dock precisely so that the wireless induction chargers can boost the vessel’s batteries in port. The need for mooring lines and mooring teams is eliminated, and vessels can be moored in less than 30 seconds, according to Switzerland-based Cavotec. Emissions also are reduced during berthing due to the use of fewer tugs and the operation of fewer engines.

The system was successfully tested in September 2017 with a Norled hybrid passenger ferry on the coast of Norway, “representing a breakthrough in the evolution of fast charging for electrical vessels,” according to Cavotec. The technology also earned a mention in the 2018 Global Opportunity Report compiled by the United Nations Global Compact, DNV GL, and the advisory group Sustainia.

“This in-port electrification has the potential to reduce the greenhouse emissions of the maritime transport sector, which currently accounts for around 2.5 percent of global emissions,” states the report.

By Professional Mariner Staff