PortSide blogs about PortSide programs, our ship MARY A. WHALEN and other historic vessels, urban waterways issues, the BLUEspace, development plans for the NYC waterfront, boats and ships of all sizes.
Richard Evans describes how he spotted PortSide's "volunteer!" banner while biking and weeks later finds himself executing careful repairs to the 78-year old wheelhouse windows, and working with summer interns.Read More
Great to see weathered teak woodwork go from grey to gold! Great to see youth learn to do it! Read how Christopher, Christie, Cesar, Devere and Jose describe their summer, in their own words.Read More
Public comments due to USCG on 1/3/17
Proposed: more boat access around Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Boating safety sited as reason for change
11/14/16. This just in from the Harbor Ops Committee:
"Please be advised that USCG Sector New York has published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking which pertains to a potential change to the security zone around Liberty State Park and Ellis Island.
The proposed change would enhance Harbor Safety by allowing smaller vessels to pass behind the Statue of Liberty and avoid being forced to travel in the more heavily used and current-impacted open channel.
MAPONY/NJ SUPPORTS this change and will file written comments in support thereof.
We urge you to review this ANPRM and file comments.
The corrected ANPRM can be accessed via the following link:
New York Harbor - security zone proposal
The US Coast Guard issued a technical correction to its advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) of 3 November. The proposal related to potential changes to the security zone around Liberty State Park and Ellis Island. In the notice, the summary erroneously stated that removal of the security zone was being considered, while the proposal itself discussed only the possibility of modifying the zone.
81 Fed. Reg. 78759 (11/9/16) [https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-11-09/pdf/2016-27037.pdf].
On the occasion of the 4th anniversary of Sandy, PortSide NewYork launches Red Hook WaterStories. This is a digital museum with significant resiliency information. The site covers 400+ years of Red Hook waterfront history - NYC’s maritime story in microcosm - and reveals forgotten and overlooked stories from this evocative neighborhood.Read More
PortSide opened the MARY A. WHALEN for Sunday of OHNY Weekend. Our ship MARY worked her magic, and so did our ship cat Chiclet who was a magnet in her own right. Our "Salty Selfies" photo station provided great souvenir moments. We believe in having fun while learning maritime history! If you missed this, come enjoy the main deck for #TankerTime!Read More
"Red Hook WaterStories” (RHWS) Project Moves Forward
Team grows and makes substantial headway!
What is Red Hook WaterStories
A water-themed history trail about and for fascinating Red Hook, Brooklyn. It will educate visitors and locals, help revitalize Red Hook and help protect this community from floods. It tells NYC's maritime story in microcosm. This year, we are launching a pilot multimedia map and creating a hard copy visitor guide and signs with QR codes around the neighborhood that alert people to the website. We will create large, outdoor, exhibit panels with this content. We are taping more oral histories to share.
PortSide offices aboard the ship MARY A. WHALEN are a buzz as we push ahead with Red Hook WaterStories. Many new consultants and interns have come aboard to help develop and catalog content. The accessibility of our new home is allowing people with valuable skills, but no prior relationship to PortSide, to literally step (or ride their bicycle like David Levine) up to the pier and get involved.
We thank Councilman Carlos Menchaca both for seeing the importance of our new home and for the $20,000 in funding that is pushing the project forward. We have applied for other funding, and have launched a campaign to raise another $20,000 by then end of June 2016.
New people, new energy!
Our Curator and Historian Peter Rothenberg has been joined by a team of consultants, advisors and interns. Some are interviewing, some research archives, some are deep in the html end of the archive. Bios of the team on the Red Hook WaterStories webpage.
We have been collecting new content and looking backward, meaning we sought technology and advice on how to get our archive coded and organized. David Levine has 25 years experience in content management at major corporations and is leading the tech end of the project, selecting the software for content management and website creation. Lots of conversations between him, Peter and new advisors Johnathan Thayer and Marilyn Oliva helped selected us Omeka as the archivist software to use. The first version of the multimedia RHWS website may be Omeka itself. Much to learn and code in all this!
Johnathan Thayer teaches archival practice and preservation at Queens College and is the Senior Archivist at Seaman’s Church Institute, founded in 1834 which has thousands of items and oral histories in its collection. Despite all that content, they have nothing about Red Hook in their files – proof that PortSide’s project has something to contribute.
Regina Carra, a graduate student at CUNY Queens College studying Library Science and History, learned about RHWS from Johnathan and was so excited by the project that she rejiggered her schedule to work with us one day a week.
We have had long meetings and brainstorming sessions around the galley table to discuss what themes, issues and peoples to include so we know to look for such content and have the archive coded in advance to be ready to receive that kind of content. “War” and “”military,” how are they the same or different? With our focus on immigrants who arrived by water or worked on the waterfront, what do we do about the “non-ethnics,” the English or WASPS? How do we deal with false history (the errors so often repeated in the era of Google)?
Do we include a layer that explains sources so people can see that many a map or engraving that has been used to show “this was Red Hook” is an illustration of a plan, an intention, and did not yet exist? That kind of discussion is so pertinent to the resiliency (flood prep) aspect to Red Hook WaterStories.
As a water-aware organization, we planned to talk about underground water issues since we started this work in 2005. After superstorm Sandy, information about the historic filling of creeks, swamp and shoreline is very timely. It's key to understand that so many historic maps of Red Hook show a street grid of intentions over “land” that remained water and swamp into the 1900s. On a lighter note, in honor of our ship cat Chiclet and her devoted followers, we decided to add cat WaterStories. History needs to be fun too!
We have a bottomless font of facts and tips about the history in advisor Norman Brouwer, a noted maritime historian and the person who built the South Street Seaport library. He also has a personal collection of thousands of maritime postcards which we hope to access for illustrations.
Julia Golia, Director of Public History at the Brooklyn Historical Society, told us about resources in their archives and was receptive to partnering as they move ahead with their waterfront museum and waterfront history website in partnership with Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Melinda Boros, an immigrant from Romania, brings us a fresh perspective in her role as consultant. Red Hook was one of the first neighborhoods she found after emigrating in 1998. It's abandonment was something she expected in Ceaucescu’s Romania not the USA, so she dove deep into historical research to come to understand it. Barbara Wye, a recent grad in Anthropology and Digital Media Design with experience in community organizing around preservation, is helping with outreach, event planning and graphic design.
Many Red Hook WaterStories involve Spanish speakers, especially since the first point of arrival for Puerto Ricans in NYC was ships docking at Red Hook piers. Intern Ivy Ann Rosado, a senior at Hunter College of Dominican heritage is helping with this research and other aspects of the project.
We are interviewing more people for more video and oral histories. Jenny Kane leads the oral history work. John Weaver handles the video camera. Our President Carolina Salguero, an award-winning photojournalist in her prior career, does some of the interviewing.
If you, or someone you know has some Red Hook WaterStories to share, get in touch! WaterStories include: all things working waterfront (shipbuilding/repair, ports/freight movement, creation of ports/changing shoreline, merchant marine/worked on boats, ferries), emigrated here by ship, worked at waterfront facilities, played/fished/relaxed on the waterfront, waterfront religious rituals, drownings, Sandy experiences, created an art work or piece of literature inspired by the Red Hook waterfront.
This project is supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and funding from NYC Councilman Carlos Menchaca.
By Carolina Salguero
This blogpost is a response to Curbed’s 1/28/16 article about Red Hook which carried only parts of several long conversations with Nathan Kensinger. Here is more of what I said so that my position, and PortSide NewYork’s, on changing Red Hook is better rendered.
The Curbed article looks back; my waterfront work, from my photojournalism to founding the forward-looking non-profit PortSide, focuses on the growing maritime sector, making change and shaping the future. At PortSide, we use history to further Red Hook's development. All images, except the rendering above, are copyright Carolina Salguero.
How I would frame the future of Red Hook?
Red Hook has evolved from a place perceived by 1990’s national media as a hopeless crack den to a peninsula that in 2014 was the announced recipient of a "first in the nation" plan for urban flood protection.. Hello IFPS! That is our future, example to the nation.
I understood Est4te Four to be the core of Nathan’s intended story. Thus, I said that, given that Red Hook was going to change, hugely change, it was better that we have Est4te Four, with a curated vision and their standards, than have the building boom of “luxury”’ housing such as occurred on Fourth Avenue in Park Slope/Gowanus. That left us with a hodgepodge of dreadful buildings like the yellow brick one looming over the historic Old Stone House.
We all fall in love with the Red Hook we first met
Yes, we talked nostalgia. We talked a lot about Red Hook changes and my personal markers for the stages of evolution.
This led me to remark that we all seem to fall in love with the Red Hook of our first contact, and the point of that remark was not to say that my first experience of 1997 (as a visitor, I moved here in 1999) was better or more valid than that of someone arriving in 2002 or the 1980s, but to convey how Red Hook triggers a deep love that is very nostalgia based.
All newcomers to Red Hook love Red Hook, that’s why they come (you don’t come here for the great transportation), and their love starts in, and connects to, the era they arrive.
I said that was one of the great things about my being involved with Red Hook, it has an engaged community that cares about this place.
My view of Red Hook is so NOT nostalgia-driven that I had a lot positive to say about IKEA. IKEA’s Sandy recovery work (done with Swedish modesty that did not tout what they did) was so significant that PortSide honored them for it.
I said the IKEA waterfront esplanade was very well designed, one of the best in the city. I said all that despite saying that closing the graving dock was a policy mistake by the city and a personal loss to me; it was my photographic muse for 5 years. I had unfettered, permitted access to it and could come by land or sea, day or night; and I had the run of the old shipyard too.
NYCHA, The Red Hook Houses and the new Red Hook
The Curbed piece concludes with the quote “"It's not going to be the same Red Hook for a lot of the people who live here now."”’ whereas I talked quite a bit about the people who are likely to stay in Red Hook, the overwhelming majority of Red Hook’s residents, eg the residents of the NYCHA development in the Red Hook Houses East and Red Hook Houses West. I said that for all the problems faced by those folks, they had a large measure of residential stability.
I said that one of my hopes for Red Hook was that, with all the change, wealth and resources coming to the Red Hook around the Houses, more resources would be focused on helping those NYCHA residents. Some of that was visible in the great number of homegrown non-profits on this small peninsula. I said that entrenched, urban poverty was a tough challenge, but that we should try. It is certainly part of PortSide’s mission.
Same old, same old with new people
I said that even with all the new people moving in, much stayed the same: Red Hook the close knit community where gossip and rumor are big. Gary Baum, the friend of the pick-up truck sledding mentioned by Nathan, used to joke that if you sneezed, in 10 minutes people know that 7 blocks away.
All of which led me to remark that what I wish Red Hook would get better at research and negotiation since so many of our land use issues were characterized by “did you hear that?!!” shock that was not necessarily based on fact; and that, as a community, we had yet to negotiate benefits from any major real estate development. Segue to NY Rising, a change in that dynamic.
NY Rising and the future of Red Hook
Once Nathan and I got off the nostalgia beat, I spent a lot of time talking about NY Rising, my voice starting to crack with emotion when I talked about how beautiful it was for me to see that the disaster of Sandy had germinated something that augured such good for Red Hook.
NY Rising is a NYS program, and its Red Hook committee members (including me) were appointed by the State to craft a resiliency plan for $3MM in funds the state would provide.
It was a helluva lot of work over some 9 months, but we had the benefits of the region’s best consultants, paid by the state, to support the effort. I said it was a new model worth remembering: government paid to give grassroots community members planning resources (as opposed to Community Boards in gentrifying areas that are overwhelmed by trying to respond to Land Use permits and variances and that are not funded in proportion to that workload. Hint, hint, NYC.)
Official NYS webpage for NY Rising statewide
Official NYS webpage for NY Rising Red Hook committee
Blog of Red Hook’s NY Rising committee
Final resiliency plan of NY Rising Red Hook committee, shorter executive summary and mini brochure version.
Red Hook's NY Rising committee has gone well beyond the State-appointed mission. We proposed programs exceeding that budget. The committee has already sought and secured outside funding to further some projects, including the microgrid. The committee has continued to meet and is becoming a non-profit to further work in Red Hook. It is also looking to expand members. GET INVOLVED! It sought the support of the Municipal Art Society to host the Red Hook Summit about resiliency projects in Red Hook.
COME TO THE RED HOOK SUMMIT! It is Saturday, 1/30/16, 10am – 1pm at Summit Academy, 27 Huntington Street. Full disclosure, I am presenting for PortSide there.
I talked to Nathan about my role on NY Rising where I tried to raise NYCHA issues (I proposed the solar-powered emergency lights in the final plan) and my big focus was activation of the waterfront (the waterways, really) and ensuring that the wisdom of NYC’s 2011 waterfront plan Vision 2020 (embrace and activate the waterways!) was not drowned by Sandy (water is destructive, let’s build walls!).
As a result, I was very moved when at the IFPS (Integrated Flood Protection Study) meeting last week, community members very strongly supported the idea of waterfront access and maritime activation that were on the sheet of NY Rising “values” had the room discuss.
Listening to the IFPS room, with the report-back from each break-out table echoing PortSide values for the waterfront, I felt that I, and PortSide staff and interns, had really made a difference preparing advocacy papers, blogposts, webpages, walk-to-ferry-landings studies, etc for NY Rising, all of which is shared on our website. Our NY Rising work and waterfront vision was embraced by the room without our having spoken up for it in that room. Given that the IFPS is a “first in the nation” program, the eyes of the world are on us in Red Hook, so it was powerful for me to see PortSide’s harbor advocacy work picked up by the IFPS process.
Changes in Red Hook – growth of maritime sector
The thrust of Nathan’s Curbed piece is displacement, new replacing the old, but I also talked about what NYC’s real estate driven press (Ahoy, Curbed!) does not cover very much: the growth of the maritime sector. So I rattled off some Red Hook increases in maritime activity since I moved here in 1999: New York Water Taxi (a new company, and headquartered in Red Hook), Vane Brothers tug and barge company expanding two times beyond the footprint of the old Ira S. Bushey yard at the foot of Court Street (where the MARY A. WHALEN started work in 1938) to GBX and Port Authority piers, a new cruise terminal, and Red Hook Container Terminal expanded business (despite hiccups of lawsuits, Sandy and more), and the founding of PortSide NewYork, to create a maritime hub that would foster the community revitalization of Red Hook along a water and maritime theme, combine working waterfront, public access and community development and be a test lab and advocate for expand that model harborwide.
PortSide NewYork services to a future Red Hook
I told Nathan that in September, 2015, PortSide asked the EDC for the space inside the Pier 11 warehouse next to the ship that had been promised to us in 2009, 2010, and 2011 – space that the EDC had also promised to the community as the home for PortSide.
I concluded by sending Nathan two renderings of what PortSide plans for Pier 11, a forward-looking vision for Red Hook. Here is what we are working towards! #GetOnBoard and join us!
2015: the search is over. The future is now.
2015 was a year of major milestones and growth. See, read and feel it below.
The pivot point was the exhilarating move on May 29 in the video at right.
Our new site strengthens our ability to fulfill the PortSide vision of combining the working waterfront, public access and community development.
Please donate now and support our momentum!
The public access at our new home enables us to grow our educational programs. We hopped on it right away with outreach such as our Open House for Educators Week and researching new curricula. We gained new partners in the World Monuments Fund, the Williamsburgh HS of Architecture and Design (WHSAD), and Behind the Book. We had three summer interns from WHSAD and two college interns from Spain. We created a curriculum for simple machines aboard the MARY A. WHALEN and taught Hurricane Sandy & resiliency to elementary school kids. For adult job training, we furthered our relationship with the painters' union District Council 9.
WaterStories cultural programs
We secured $20,000 in funding from Councilman Carlos Menchaca to support our Red Hook WaterStories cultural tourism, placemaking and resiliency project. We were invited to join a historic ship flotilla that celebrated Cunard's 175th anniversary and got community members in the parade via our partner, the historic tug CORNELL. We curated and ran a great POW! weekend with TankerTours, TankerTime and gifted flamenco jazz musicians who have offered to make this an annual event. We produced a distinctive multimedia history night with Norwegian Red Hook WaterStories with bluegrass musicians from Norway, history speakers, and vintage video. Out shipcat Chiclet has become an attraction, with a growing fan club of regulars who come by to see her.
Volunteers repainted three cabins! Thank you, volunteers! Three summer interns from WHSAD did enormous work restoring the teak rail around the wheelhouse. The painters' union District Council 9 will repaint the exterior as a training excercise with paint donated by International Paint. DC9 scoped out the job, did some prep work, and laid plans for painting in 2016.
History: research, acquisitions & programs
History runs through so many of our programs: all events on the ship, programs such as our Norwegian Red Hook WaterStories night, info content we share on our Facebook and Twitter, our blogposts such the one about the important sale of slave ERIE ship in Atlantic Basin which marked an important step in the end of slavery in the USA. In 2015, we added considerably to Mary A. Whalen history: more former crew members found us (thanks to our new home): Engineer Bill Siebert who works on a Vane tug and retired, 86-year old, former relief captain Thomas J. Smith. Captain Smith donated his maritime papers to us, and we have taped hours of interviews with him. A big boost in the history department was the visit by Scott Gellatly and his wife Pat. They ran a waterborne fuel transportation company years ago and almost bought the MARY. The Gellatlys donated photos, recorded hours of interview and brought along retired engineer Bryan Sinram, another trove of history, who had worked for Eklof, the company that ran the MARY WHALEN for years. Walter Barschow donated the folk painting of the MARY aground in the slide show above and gave us leads on Red Hook WaterStories about his family that ran a scrap yard for decades, founded by his German immigrant grandmother. Karen Dyrland and John Weaver donated another large cache of photos, letters and documents from Alf Dyrland, Captain of the MARY from 1958-1978. And, our home, the historic tanker MARY A. WHALEN turned 77!
PortSide continued to inspire filmmakers, painters and multi-media artists. Most find us because they can now see us. The MARY A. WHALEN is visible from our new friends and partners Pioneer Works which leads to a steady stream of artists coming to brainstorm, photograph, get ideas, one even collects salt water for a printing project. We gave the title to the documentary film BLUESPACE and appeared in it. We invited painter Jim Ebersole to memorialize our final week in the Red Hook Containerport.
This important work does not generate inspiring, cuddly or sexy photos. It involves a slew of emails and hundreds of conversations that advance our vision for bringing change to NYC's waterfront. Some highlights: Our President Carolina Salguero was appointed to the Sunset Park Task Force whose first task was to advise the EDC on creating an RFP for SBMT. How's that for alphabet soup! The Task Force continues to meet to shape the Sunset Park waterfront and industrial waterfront district. PortSide provided info and advice on the siting of a Citywide ferry stop in Red Hook. We are engaged with the ongoing work of Red Hook's NY Rising committee. We had a photogenic policy gig by being a stop on Alex Washburn's OHNY Resiliency bike tour.
Capacity Building - great progress undergirds all the above!
Getting our new home in Atlantic Basin, has provided PortSide NewYork with much needed stability and allowed us to turn energies to growing PortSide's capacity. We grew the team with 2 board members and 4 advisory board members. We completed the long slog of paperwork of a FEMA Sandy Alternate Project application, along with other important funding applications. We were awarded $20,000 by Councilman Carlos Menchaca to support our Red Hook WaterStories project. In Late October, PortSide launched a year-long growth campaign #GetOnBoard. In December, we were awarded a competitive Regional Economic Development Council grant of $49,500 via the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. We scored new major sponsors in the Weather Channel and International Paint. There is strong growth in the number of entities reaching out to get involved: we have heard from college community service programs, schools, teachers and individuals.
Please donate now and support our momentum!
Why this blogpost
This blogpost is in response to the uproar over the two Red Hook ferry locations proposed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). See images at bottom. The EDC proposed these locations in a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and gave the public a deadline of October 8, 2015 for comments.
The Red Hook community via the NYS NY Rising resiliency plan it created had, over a year before, articulated its recommendation for a ferry location in Atlantic Basin. The EDC proposal did not include Atlantic Basin.
After the angry and frustrated responses to the DEIS in a public hearing shortly before the comment deadline and the comments submitted to the EDC DEIS, the EDC reversed itself. “We agreed to take a second look at Atlantic Basin as a landing,” said vice-president Peter Flynt in a Brooklyn Paper article “We’ve heard the community loud and clear.” In short, as of this writing, the topic is still open.
PortSide NewYork has long supported ferry service for Red Hook. Over the years, we have provided advice to ferry owners, property owners, elected officials, Brooklyn Community Board 6 and others. During 2010, PortSide advocated for waterborne transit during the Vision 2020 process. During 2013-2014, PortSide President Carolina Salguero was on the NY Rising Red Hook committee which proposed an Atlantic Basin ferry location, and PortSide staff and interns contributed research to her work for NY Rising.
- 8/24/15 Brooklyn Paper Airy-ferry: Red Hookers say city’s planned ferry stop is impractical
- 9/11/15 Brooklyn Paper Shore it up! Board tells city to find new Hook ferry stop
- 10/9/15 Red Hook Star Revue Red Hook gathers at Borough Hall for a ferry hearing
- 10/16/15 EDC will take a second look Oh buoy! Daily Governors Island ferries could set sail by 2017
How this blogpost will work
To help resolve where a new Red Hook stop on the citywide ferry system will be located, PortSide NewYork has created this blogpost. Here, we will link all comments that were submitted to the EDC DEIS that we receive, or any subsequent statements people want to make about the Red Hook ferry, or you can post directly in the comment section at bottom. All statements we receive will be posted without editorial comment in alphabetical order by name of person who wrote the testimony.
We are doing this to improve transparency by showing testimony the EDC received, to foster discussion within the community by showing what the collective is thinking, and to help media reporting for all the same reasons.
Comments submitted to the DEIS process & other statements
Inna Guzenfeld Master's thesis on citywide ferry plans
PortSide NewYork is preparing to have the historic ship MARY A. WHALEN be publicly accessible by summer. She and we will then be accessible for several years in a row, a real breakthrough after 10 years of operating as a pop-up in continual negotiations for short term permits. We hope you are as excited by this news as we are!
We could use some help getting ready, especially because the lingering winter weather delayed painting interior spaces on the ship before we moved our offices back aboard on April 30th.
Come enjoy spring weather on the waterfront and lend a hand. It's fun here! Join us!
Ways you can help:
Sanding and painting!
Finish painting the Captain's cabin. Sand and paint the Assistant Engineer's cabin below (currently the office of our President Carolina Salguero). Sand and paint the Tankermen's and Chief Engineer's cabin.
Like to pack and schlepp?
We need to move stuff around on the boat and move stuff off the boat. Things in the Tankermen's cabin go up to Captain's cabin once painting there is finished (it's almost done.) Contents of Chief Engineer's cabin are being taken off the boat to make space. Some stuff (some small, some heavy) goes into storage in the cargo tanks (that all involves fun with rigging). Btw, did you know that schlepp comes from the German word for tugboat?
Enjoy the Upacking and Tidying arts?
Can you organize stuff? Like to clean?
Things have been piling up in main office space (two joined cabins) since the end-of-year Rigging Olympics and especially since we moved out of our shoreside office yesterday. We need to pack up and archjve some things until we can install better storage and desk system.
Good at designing small spaces?
We seek a new office layout with custom desk surfaces and new storage units for our main shipboard office space below (two cabins joined by the previous owners). We have outgrown our current agglomeration of vintage steel desks and storage units. We have up to four people working in here at a time and much to store. Design needs to take into account that the ship moves.
We need to cut planks to put down a floor in another cargo tank to use it as a storage area. We need to install temporary plywood floors in two cabins used as office spaces.
Welding needed to finish sealing up the new hatch over cargo tank P2 which was cut late last year so we could store our large collection of vintage maritime artifacts down below. We have some other small welding repairs on hinges on steel doors etc. We are willing to pay for this work.
Revel in communication?
We could use some help with outreach to volunteers and event partners. This work requires a regular commitment of time over two months.
To get involved, call 917-414-0565 or email portsidenewyork(a)gmail.com. More about volunteering here.
Last Veteran's Day, we covered the subject of a class of largely-forgotten maritime veterans, the women, children, elderly and disabled mariners who served during WWII.
Below, we provide an update on the cause to finally get recognition for all of them, thanks to info provided by Don Horton who first brought this story, and cause, to our attention. Don Horton was one of those child mariners, serving on a barge with his mother, father and siblings.
Our post from Veteran's Day 2013
Our 9/15/14 interview with Don Horton during his visit to Red Hook, Brooklyn where we took him to various sites that were strongly stamped in his memory.
What you can do for this cause
You can write /call your respective US Senator and ask that they co-sponsor Senate Amendment Sa-3548. This is the amendment that can provide the avenue to allow for alternative methods of recognition for WW II coastwise mariners. It is a copy of S-1361, WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act. Background and Alternative Methods of Recognition, July 2014
The following info is from Don Horton
The bills before Congress
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate offered bills in in support of these veterans, HR 1288 and S-1361, WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act. HR 1288 was amended in to HR 4435, 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and this bill cleared the House with the amendment intact and is awaiting Senate action for comparison with the Senate NDAA S 2410.
S -1361 was introduced by Senator Chris Murphy, D-CT back in March, 2014.
In May of 2014, Chairman Senator Levin and Ranking Member Senator Inhofe of the the Senate Committee on Armed Forces selected a large block of amendments for possible inclusion in what is commonly referred to as a Manager’s package. This package includes certain Bills and amendments that are generally favored by specific groups or members of the Senate. S 1361 was not included within that group.
Shortly afterward in July, Senator Murphy introduced Senate Amendment Sa-3548. but after the offering of the ”Managers Package”.
We are awaiting the Senatorial debate on the floor to see if they will consider any more amendments or not. With this late bit of information, we immediately set about to reach out to all cosponsors of S 1361 (5) and request they come aboard Sa-3548 as cosponsors. Next we asked each member of the Senate Committee of Armed Forces to become Cosponsors and finally we are asking the remainder of the Senate to become cosponsors to Senator Murphy’s Amendment.
It is our hope to obtain sufficient co-sponsors to bring attention to the exhaustive efforts to have these mariners be given their promised recognition, by court order and many congressional speeches, proclaiming full and unequivocal support for our veterans.
I received an email from the Fleet Reserves that states the Senate version S 2410 of the NDAA may be brought to the floor and may allow debate and issuance of additional amendments. This is a departure from past Senate actions and good news for us. Congress is scheduled for convening on 12 November. I attempted to have this confirmed by Senate contacts but was unable. They neither confirmed nor denied.
How many mariners are we talking about?
No one knows either how many served or how many were lost. GAO asked the Coast Guard to identify how many served during WW II and they could only tell them how many credentials were issued during 1939 to 1946, about 840,000, but stated they had no idea how many served in enemy contested waters. Historians settled on about 250,000 serving who may be entitled to veteran recognition. To date about 91,000 have been recognized as veterans.
No one can state how many were lost and presumed dead. Numbers range from around 5200 to about 9500. We have documentation that demonstrates that New York lost about 1300 of the numbers of 5200. That is an eye opening figure for anyone to digest. I have provided names of those from New York who were lost and the very few who have been recognized as veterans.