Immediately after the second tower of the World Trade Center collapsed Sept. 11, 2001, members of the Corps of Engineers' fleet were underway.
Stationed along the Hudson River for a Coast Guard boat-safety class, the Corps’ boats from the Philadelphia and New York districts became taxis to safety for people trying to flee the scene.
“Everyone volunteered to help. Without a second thought, they placed themselves on duty,” said Joe Meyers from the USACE’s New York district.
In all, they ferried 2,300 people off the island.
“When we arrived, the people on the pier had a deep stare and were covered in dust. They were afraid to leave and afraid to stay,” said Tony Hans from the New York district.
Three marinas were set up at Caven’s Point, N.J., to receive the passengers. Buses and trains awaited evacuees at the first marina. The second marina was for the injured, and the third marina was for the critically injured.
“On each return trip, the crews would bring back emergency personnel,” said Meyers.
The assembled fleet consisted of these motor vessels: Hocking, Hatton, Hudson, Hayward, Gelberman, Driftmaster and New York Survey Boat #1.
Motor Vessel Hayward assisted local fireboats
and fire trucks by transporting fuel and water.
“They were passing five-gallon cans by hand. There was no other way to access the site,” said Josh Daskalakis from the New York district.
Motor Vessel Hayward helped keep firefighters on the job by supplying them with more than 16,000 gallons of fuel and water, in addition to flashlights, batteries, protective gear, food, water, lanterns and shovels, according to Meyers.
Motor Vessel Hocking became the command vessel the day of the attack. Within hours of the collapse, Hocking transported the North Atlantic Division Commander Brig. Gen. M. Stephen Rhoades to the site to assess the situation and offer Corps assistance.
After the initial transportation of citizens to Caven’s Point, more Corps vessels joined the response crew to assist with the ongoing mission of supporting the Corps, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and New York City’s transportation and supply needs.
Source: Army News Service
By Justine Barati
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
From the New England District
World Trade Center Special Edition of the Yankee Engineer.