A Maine-based shipwreck hunter is preparing to take his salvage ship to Haiti this weekend to deliver much-needed aid supplies to the island nation and to rescue hundreds of children who were left stranded when their orphanage outside Port au Prince was reduced to rubble in last week’s earthquake.
Donation information is included at the end of this MPBN interview with Greg Brooks, from Subsea Research in Gorham, who’s preparing to take a supply ship carrying aid to Haiti this weekend. Listen to audio of the story.
Greg Brooks: I have a 220-foot salvage ship that we bought this past year and we’re a project off Cape Cod, so when the earthquake happened we decided we had to do something. So this ship can carry a little over a million pounds of supplies on the deck, plus we have two cargo holds and we carry a lot of fuel. So I decided to try to get a mission together and get it down there and help these people, because we did the same thing for Katrina. So for the last week we’ve been getting the ship ready, which there’s a lot to do to get a ship ready for a journey of that length — it’s about 1,800 miles one way. They’ve been getting the ship ready and I’ve been trying to get funds raised, and get supplies on the boat, because I know 22 nations have donated to Haiti and lot of them are having a problem getting their material to Haiti because the military’s taken over the airport. The pier in Port au Prince is unsafe because of the earthquake, so they’re having a very difficult time getting supplies in there, flying them as best they can, but it’s still not enough. So we’ve been contacting just about everybody and we’ve talked to the Red Cross, Catholic Charities, local people, Hannafords donated 31,000 bottles of water. So we’re donating the boat, the crew and the time, and we just need to get some fuel to put in it, and we figure it’s going to take us about 25,000 gallons to get down there and back.
Tom Porter: You’re raising money at the moment for the fuel?
TP: The supplies will be provided by these charities?
GB: Yes. And a lot of local people have been calling up asking what can they do, so I told them, rice, beans, medical supplies, anything and everything we can take because we can hold a lot of cargo on the ship, so a lot of local people are getting together and forming little groups and forming all these small donations, which add up quite a bit.
TP: And how many will be crewing the boat?
GB: Right now, we think there’s going to be about 12. I’ve lots of offers of people who’d like to go. But I’ve been to Haiti quite a few times and in the best of times it’s very difficult to do anything there, so these are going to be the worst of times. And so I have to be careful about who goes because it can be extremely dangerous.
TP: So you’re going to hand out the aid at Port au Prince?
GB: Right now the problem with Port au Prince is there’s no place to offload. The US Navy was going to send down a salvage ship to repair the dock. Right now they have divers down there checking it out, but it needs a lot of work. So how long that will take we don’t know. But with our ship we only draw 12 feet of water so we can in fairly close to land and we have a 40-ton crane, and a 100-ton A-frame on the back of the boat so we can lift containers and actually set them pretty much onshore right from the sea. So that has an advantage over most of the big ships that are bringing aid down. So Port au Prince maybe, Leogane, where there’s an orphanage that collapsed and there were three children killed, and I’ve been to that orphanage many times. Right now they’re sleeping out under the stars. I got an email this morning from a friend of ours in Haiti, and they have enough food for about a week and a half left, and the roads are out so there’s no way they can get out of there, there’s nobody that can take them. So we’re hoping we can get down there in time. We’ve found an orphanage on the south coast of Haiti that will take them, but they have no way of getting there, so there’s like 200 kids there, so we’re going to try to get down there so we can load them on our ship and bring them to that new orphanage.
TP: Will you have to offload the supplies first to make room for the children?
GB: Whatever works.
TP: You’re just going to improvise a bit.
GB: You have to improvise, you have to be creative because it’s going to be different. Like I said, it was difficult in the best of times, now these are worst of the time, and they had another earthquake again today so we don’t know how much damage that has caused, and are there going to be any more. So as soon as we can get there, it’s the best thing.
TP: How long is the sail from the orphanage to the new location where they can be looked after?
GB: We can do that in about 24 hours.
TP: It’ll be a pretty full ship will it with 200 kids on board.
GB: Oh definitely. The cook won’t be happy, I’m sure of that.
TP: Are you hoping to depart this weekend from Boston?
GB: Right now, like I said, the big charities that would donate the bulk of it, they’re trying to figure out what we can carry and we think we can carry about 30 or 35 big containers aboard the ship. Other than that, we’re just collecting local donations, and until it actually happens, we are still trying to get some fuel donations, and some money to help pay for the fuel. But one way or another we’re going to go.
TP: And if anyone wants to donate, they should just go to your Website?
GB: Yeah, subsearesearch.com. You can click on the latest news and that will give
you an update on what we’re doing and how to donate and we’re set up with a nonprofit so that the donations can be tax-deductible which is a plus for everybody too.
TP: Well bon voyage and good luck. Thanks Greg.
GB: Thank you.
How to Donate to this effort:
We have set up an account at:
Ocean Communities Credit Union
17 Westbrook Common
Westbrook, ME 04092
Phone: (800) 418-1486
FAX: (207) 856-0164
Pay to : SOLID FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL
Solid Foundation is a 501-3c Non Profit
Bottled water, rice, beans, cleaning and medical supplies, soap and detergent are some things needed. Excavation equipment. More to follow.
Make sure you put your name and contact info on your donation. If by chance we cannot reach our goal for the relief effort, all funds will be returned.
You have all seen the devestation on the TV, it saddens the heart. With your help, we can make a difference, a dent.
In times of emergency and disaster, the call to action cannot be ignored. No one person can solve the world’s problems, but every little bit of support extended during and after a time of crisis adds up to a lifeline of help and hope for those affected.
Donations can be dropped by the ship M/V Sea Hunter
Boston Harbor Shipyard 256 Marginal Street Boston, MA 02128-2871
George Wilson has donated his moving services to truck donations to the ship in Boston.
Wilson Moving – 207-775-2581
Contact: Greg Brooks, 207-879-1758 office
To Donate Food etc.
Contact Amy McGowen at