Man Overboard Drill on the Munnatawket

by Jane Ahrens
Photos by David Johnson, witness to the drill.

And so it happened on February 16, 2017 – the Coast Guard annual mandated Man Overboard Drill – off the Munnatawket on the 11:30 run to the Island. For those patient passengers on board, it was, “something you just don’t see every day, but it is great to know our crew is so capable in this regard.”

Although it was definitely a team effort, as many of the FI Ferry personnel participated, Operations Supervisor Jon Haney had the responsibility of preparing for this major Coast Guard inspection. He reported, “We passed with flying colors because of the professionalism and dedication of our captains, our crew, and our staff.”

Jon Haney wrote to this editor and explained further:

The crew did an outstanding job throughout the entire inspection. Every year each vessel is required to undergo an annual Coast Guard inspection in order to renew our COI (Certificate Of Inspection) allowing us to carry passengers, freight, and vehicles. This year was our 5-year inspection, same intention as the annuals but much more thorough.

The captain and crew were aware of the mandatory drill which is usually done in between our scheduled runs, without passengers or vehicles aboard. This year, however, we ran out of time before the 1130 NL→FI trip due to sprinkler and firefighting drills, bilge suctions, routine safety equipment checks, etc. Once we got underway we were at the mercy of the Coast Guard’s timing, when and where they decided…completely random, as it would be in a real situation.

Chris Newell actually did have to go into the water, he donned our mustang suit which is appropriate for cold water temperatures. We have a MOB bag (Man Overboard) on each vessel with all of the necessary equipment to facilitate a successful rescue. Its contents include the Mustang suit, a thermal blanket, PFD’s, lanyards to attach to the crewman entering the water and another for the victim being rescued and a spotlight for night time rescues. The current water temp is 47.7°F.

I’m not quite sure how long it took to complete the drill, but it certainly was within Coast Guard standards, and I’m sure we can always improve. There was a tool not pictured called a “shepherd’s pole” which is pretty similar to a pool cleaning skimmer except it has a round metal hoop which can wrap around the victim in the water.

It’s always a team effort around here and we’re only as strong as our weakest link.
“The strength of our crew is each individual member. The strength of each member is our crew.”

Jon Hiller (Captain), Chris Newell (Senior Deckhand) and Chris Dorsett (Deckhand) participated with me.

Captain Jon Haney

Fishers Island Ferry District’s Marine Operations Manager RJ Burns added, “According to the Coast Guard, the crew did an outstanding job and several passengers were very impressed with our crew and how rapidly they reacted.”

And, in case anyone asks, the dummy’s name is Oscar. Oscar is the name of the signal flag that traditionally is hoisted when you have a man overboard situation.

A few of our lucky passengers were kind enough to share their photos with us. Photos by David Johnson; video by Tom Patterson and edited by Henry Patterson.

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay. Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

A Fishers Island Community Center Program and the accompanying Fog Horn eNewsletter serve as the communications resource for the Fishers Island community. The content – news, calendar, links and photos, milestones, ads, and more create a clear image of Fishers to those on and off the island.

© 2023 – All Right Reserved.