Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Today we woke to enjoy far less rolling as we steamed east of the Bahama Bank, sheltering us from the westerly swell the last two days. The weather is beautiful, light southerly breeze with 75 degrees. Deck work is in full swing as the dry weather permits paint chipping and painting. Love the sound of those needle guns!

At Noon today we stopped the ship at the last known position of the Container ship El Faro. We arranged a memorial ceremony, and involved personnel that were connected to the MMA grads aboard. Professor Don Trudeau (1981) lead the audience in Psalm 23, then Professor Craig Dalton (1974) read the Mariner’s Prayer. Professor John Bausch sang the Navy Hymn accompanied by Professor Jim Fitzpatrick. VP Elizabeth Stevenson (1997) and Marine Transportation Lab Tech Edward Vacha (1997) read the names of the 33 lost seafarers. Cadet Chief Mate Adam Schlock and Cadet Chief Engineer Mathew Kubiec lowered a wreath into the sea while eight bells were rung. Cadet Training Ship Commander James Belbin played Taps as the silent cadets and crew stood by. It was poignant, aware that the El Faro lay three miles below us.

I will close by including my remarks:

“We muster on deck today to honor the seafarers lost in the sinking of the container ship El Faro in this very spot on Oct. 1, 2015 during Hurricane Joaquin. The wreck was found Oct. 31 not far from here in 15,000 feet of water near the Bahamas Bank. Twenty-eight US crewmembers and five Polish workers were on board.

Going to sea has inherent risk – everyone should know that – but we all defy those risks for different reasons – but most will do it to make a better life for themselves and their loved ones. When circumstances collide, such as losing power and an unpredictable hurricane, the sailors fight back. We are confident that every man and woman aboard the El Faro faced the sinking with strength and determination, and their last thoughts were for their loved ones at home. We honor them today.

Two of the men lost – MMA graduates Jeffrey Mathias (97) and Keith Griffin (05) sailed on the Kennedy. They are close to us know. We miss them, and will not forget them.

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