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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Crew of the MV Joseph Merrick Jones Receives USCG Meritorious Public Service Awards

We are proud to announce that the entire crew of the MV Joseph Merrick Jones received the U.S. Coast Guard’s Meritorious Public Service Award for safely executing a rescue mission of a stranded pleasure boat back in September of 2018. The crew was also recognized as an award winner for Canal Barge Company’s Courage to Care program which recognizes employees for taking Stop Work Obligation to heart.

What Happened:

In the early morning hours of September 1, 2018, a pleasure boat with 6 people onboard struck a dyke on the Lower Mississippi River at mile marker 375. The initial notice from the USCG indicated there were injuries onboard and they were taking on water. Immediate assistance from vessels in the area was needed.

As soon as the USCG notice was received, the Pilot Adam Dobbs notified Captain Roy McManus. The MV Joseph Merrick Jones (JMJ) was Southbound and approximately 3 miles from the location of the incident. Thanks to our regular response drills, the crew jumped into action. The boat immediately notified CBC Dispatch and Port Captain Ken Billiot that the JMJ would be stopping to help the stranded pleasure boat and provide any assistance needed to rescue the people involved.

Another vessel that was Northbound a couple miles away also stopped to render assistance. The other vessel launched their skiff and met the JMJ crew as they were arriving on scene. The JMJ stopped mid-channel, provided lighting, directed their skiff in to the stranded party and launched the JMJ’s small boat to assist. CBC Mate Chad Perez and Deckhand Dylan Littlejohn led the charge from our small boat and passed on information of the injuries to the JMJ. In the JMJ’s wheelhouse, Pilot Adam Dobbs and Steersman Mathew Cole assisted Capt. Roy with the task of keeping a look out of the situation, directing traffic in the area and communicating with the USCG, Sheriff’s Department, and Wildlife and Fisheries that were arriving on scene with paramedics. During the rescue operation, the other vessel’s skiff ran aground in the darkness. Since the Wildlife and Fisheries agents were unable to reach the grounded boat, Chad and Dylan transferred the individuals to our small boat and brought them out two at a time to the waiting paramedics. Once all the people were transferred to the Wildlife and Fisheries, Chad and Dylan set about the task of retrieving the grounded skiff.

As Captain Roy recalls, “When Adam called down at 0430 to notify me, I told the deckhand on watch, Riley Cutchin, to get everyone up and to prepare for a rescue mission. I never had to say another word to any of them, they all went to their assigned post and had radios in hand waiting directions. Darrell Tune (Cook on the JMJ) had the onboard medical bag ready just in case. The crew of the MV Joseph Merrick Jones handled themselves with professionalism that made me proud to be the captain of this vessel with this crew. They all knew their stations, went to them immediately upon hearing of the situation without hesitation and stood by at the ready.” This is just one example of the importance of conducting drills on board as everyone knew their role.