Blessey Marine towboat crews save lives
November 29, 2012
By Walter E. Blessey Jr.
I have a lot to be proud of these days regarding the
performance of Blessey Marine’s vessel crews.
Recently, in two separate incidents, three of our vessels
participated in saving lives and thwarting off potential serious incidents on
one of the nation’s busiest and dangerous sections of the Mississippi River.
The first incident occurred on Nov. 13 at approximately
1430 hours. Capt. Mark Haury, on the towboat Walter E. Blessey Jr., had just docked and un-faced his barges at
an adjacent refinery, when five whistles rang out from the Chalmette/Algiers
Ferry in New Orleans. It was then that Capt. Haury heard distress calls over
the radio from the ferry’s pilot indicating that he was having engine problems
and was in need of assistance. The crew of the Walter E. Blessey Jr. immediately sprang into emergency mode as
they caught two quarter lines on the ferry’s port stern and started to work the
ferry towards the east bank landing. With a southbound ship and a northbound
seagoing barge in the immediate area, Capt. Haury pushed the ferry towards the
left descending [east] bank and out of harm’s way. But, with no current to work
with and no visual on where to land the ferry, Capt. Haury figured he
was in for a long, slow battle.
Enter the Charles W.
Clark, another Blessey Marine tow that happened to be delivering a package
to the Walter E. Blessey Jr. “They
showed up just in time,” said Haury. “Pilot Chris Wise of the Charles W. Clark put his vessel on the
bow of the ferry to serve as a bowthruster to counter the wind while I nudged
the ferry towards the bank.” With the help of the vessel’s electronic
navigation system and good old-fashioned towboating skills, these two vessels
were able to safely land the ferry at its dock, where its passengers were able
to disembark. There were no reports of any injuries.
The second incident occurred on Oct. 23 when the
quick actions by the crew of the towboat Claudia
Harold saved the life of a fellow mariner. The Claudia Harold was docked at a local refinery, along with another
towboat company’s vessels.
Blessey deckhand Steven Kelly was on one of the barges in
the tow when he heard a splash. Kelly didn’t see anyone fall in, but
immediately radioed to the wheelhouse. Kelly and tankerman Ricky Brown then launched
the vessel’s skiff. Within five minutes, they had safely rescued a deck
crewmember from the other towboat company’s vessel that had fallen overboard.
The rescue efforts made by our crews are in keeping with the
highest standards of our industry. Our mariners went into harm’s way at
personal risk to help others in peril. They should be very proud of their
actions. I certainly am.
Walter E. Blessey Jr.
is the chairman and CEO of Blessey Marine Services Inc., Harahan, La.