November 28th 2018

The crewmembers of the Sandy Hook Pilot Boat NEW JERSEY and the Motor Boat PHANTOM have been commended for their brave, professional response to a tragic accident that took place on Oct. 27 in New York Harbor in extreme weather conditions.

As a Nor’easter roiled the water, a Portuguese-flag car carrier, the NORTHERN JAGUAR, was making a lee to bring a pilot on board.

Visibility was two nautical miles, winds were up to 60 knots and waves were as high as 15 feet.

“The weather and the seas were unrelenting,” said MM&P Atlantic Maritime Group Representative Mike Riordan.

Two crewmembers aboard the car carrier were rigging the Jacob’s ladder when the pilot’s hatch snapped open prematurely.

“A rogue wave came by the side of the ship and blew out the pneumatics,” Riordan said.

“The hatch blew back and crushed the AB. The mate who was with him was swept out to sea.”

The AB was recovered in the hatch area; he did not survive his injuries.

The 11 men aboard the Pilot Boat NEW YORK and the Motor Boat PHANTOM spent the next 8-10 hours battling the waves in an attempt to recover the mate.

“Our guys know just what to do,” Riordan said. “They’ve been involved in numerous cold water rescues.”

United New York Sandy Hook Pilots President John J. DeCruz and United New Jersey Sandy Hook Pilots President John C. Oldmixon have commended the boat crews for their response.

“We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the entire crew, who responded so quickly, efficiently and professionally in extreme conditions,” they wrote.

“We are proud to employ such high character mariners and we commend you all for actions taken, dedication to the cause and the manner in which you conducted yourselves.”

The Sandy Hook Pilot crewmembers who were recognized for their part in the operation are: Captain/Apprentice Pilot Andrew J. Parkis; Mate/Apprentice Pilot Russell P. Stuebe; Chief Engineer Christopher J. Dady; Cook Aniello J. Somma; Able Bodied Seaman Curtis N. Paul; Able Bodied Seaman Kelvin M. Semple; Able Bodied Seaman Mark V. Mileto; Able Bodied Seaman Thor B. Gunnarsson; Steward Phillip A. Handley; Steward Nicholas V. DiSalvo; and Engine Dayman Jake C. Franzreb.

All are members of the MM&P Atlantic Maritime Group.