MMA Tug Crew Honored

Friday, March 05, 2004

The master and crew of Maine Maritime Academy's tug boat, Pentagoet, were recently cited for outstanding service to fellow mariners in peril in a letter of appreciation from USCG Captain Harry E. Haynes, Commander, Group Southwest Harbor.

The letter recognized Captain Tim Leach, master of the vessel; Harry Stevens, mate engineer; and Zander Parker, MMA student crew member, for their assistance to the Coast Guard in voluntarily responding to the aid of the disabled tug and barge, Mackenzie Ryan. Maine Maritime Academy President Leonard Tyler presented the letter to the master and crew in a special ceremony held last week during the college's daily morning formation.

Captain Haynes praised the immediate response of the crew of the college's ocean-going tugboat to an emergency situation which occurred this fall near Eagle Island in East Penobscot Bay.

Haynes' letter stated: "At approximately 0500, November 20, 2003, the Coast Guard received a Mayday call from the tug Mackenzie Ryan stating that the vessel was disabled and her barge was adrift with a crewman on board. At approximately 0517, without hesitation, the Pentagoet got underway en-route to the tug Mackenzie Ryan's last known position. Within 45 minutes of the initial Mayday call, they were on scene and ready to lend assistance. Without their assistance, it would have been extremely difficult for the crew of the 47' Motor Life Boat (MLB) from Station Rockland to assist both the tug and barge. Their professionalism and expertise allowed both the Coast Guard (MLB) and the Pentagoet to effectively coordinate a safe evolution. As a result of this coordination, both the Mackenzie Ryan and her 106-ft. barge were safely towed into Castine without any damage or injuries." Haynes concluded his letter by commending the master and crew, stating, "Their dedication to their fellow mariner did not go unnoticed."

According to Leach, the Pentagoet was dockside awaiting the arrival of students for an at-sea class when the Mackenzie Ryan issued an emergency radio call to the USCG. Given the report of a crewman in jeopardy, sea swells in excess of six ft. high, and strong wind gusts, Leach felt it was imperative to lend immediate assistance. "We needed one more crew member aboard, so we got underway when the first student arrived," said Leach. "I know the rest of the class must have been checking their watches as they watched us head out of the harbor without them. Time was of the essence and there was no time to explain." Leach, who concurrently serves as the marine operations manager of the college's waterfront facility and limited tonnage vessels, said it is seafaring tradition as well as Academy policy to voluntarily lend assistance to mariners in need. "Sometimes your fellow mariner is all you have in a crisis," he said. "We practice what we teach at Maine Maritime and as professional seafarers we try to set a strong example for our students. I hope that my students saw the value of a captain's quick decision making and the need for prudent safety measures in a rapid response."

The Pentaoget, a 76-ft. ocean-going tug, is used in conjunction with the college's 102-ft. barge, Central, for hands-on instruction in Tug and Barge Operations.

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