As the tragedy of September 11, 2001 unfolded it quickly became apparent that getting 500,000 people off Lower Manhattan was a bit of an issue, Manhattan being an ISLAND with all roads, bridges and subways closed, this is the story from behind the scenes on how the 9/11 Boat Lift came together for the largest maritime evacuation in history safely evacuating 500,000 people safely in 8 hours.
This is an amazing story of preparedness, flexible planning and quick decision making when nobody knew what might happen in the next minute, an amazing story of people who just stepped up to the challenge
The Coast Guard put out a Maritime Assistance Broadcast for all vessels to assist in the evacuation, and a Flotilla just appeared like magic on the horizon, Ferries, Tour Boats, Tug Boats and others in an effort that soon grew to 125 vessels and over 800 Mariners, all stepping up to help others in need.
The story is told by members of the New York Waterway, a Staten Island Ferry Captain, US Coast Guard both active and Reserve members, the Sandy Hook Pilots Association and others.
The Coast Guard soon declared an emergency safety zone around Lower Manhattan and closed the area to all marine traffic not involved in the Boat Lift, the Sandy Hook Pilots sent one of their pilot boats to be used as an on scene observation post to help with coordinating the efforts. The US Coast Guard had people all over from coordinating traffic to helping to safely load the vessels as a decision was made early on to allow more passengers on a vessel than the vessel was licensed for as long as the loading was still safe.
There were some small dive boats working in the area that were too small to carry a meaningful number of passengers, they were task as safety boats to assist as needed.
On the return trips to Lower Manhattan the boats carried first responders to help at Ground Zero.
Presented by the New York Council Navy League and Transportation Institute.
Please also see: The Untold 9/11 Boat Lift Story for more information and another nice presentation.
Thanks for your interest in and support of boating safety.
– c / m –