News From Fort Schuyler

December 21, 2009 - Volume 9, No. 44

A BRONX REUNION AND MORE - According to TOM HANCOCK '58, five members of his class and their wives gathered on December 11th for a pre-Christmas lunch at Mario's on Arthur Avenue. Attendees included: RICH BLATUS, BILL CALDWELL, TOM HANCOCK, HARRY RAUSCH, and NEIL SCALA. Tom continues: "Interesting to note that all the wives have known each other since before our graduation and we have all celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversaries. The Class will also be getting together, Monday March 1st in Sarasota, for our 11th mid-winter mini reunion. Most of the guys are 'Snowbirds' but several members of the class live in the area."

IT'S NOT YOUR GRANDMOTHER'S INDUSTRY - A story about being a merchant mariner in today's New York City, 'The Sailor Man in New York,' appears in an unlikely place - 'The Village Voice'. The article, by Steven W. Thrasher, discusses piracy, long voyages/minuscule port stays, the last boarding house for mariners in Manhattan, a union hall in Brooklyn, and the QM2 terminal in Red Hook.

Thrasher accompanies a chaplain from the Seafarers & International House to terminals in Port Newark and Port Elizabeth and finds that not only are port stays short, but getting off a ship to go into town is daunting these days: "' it can be tough for a worker with shore leave to get from a ship to the terminal gate. In April, the Department of Homeland Security began requiring anyone in a port to be escorted by someone carrying a Transportation Worker Identification Credential card. Without a TWIC card, seafarers are allowed to leave their ship only a short distance to inspect it. It's just a fraction of a mile from ship to gate, but ports don't miss a trick, and they can charge exorbitant fees to provide someone with a TWIC card to escort sailors on that short trip. So seafarers often spend their leave on ship." (The article does note that some terminals provide free shuttles in their gates.)

According to a maritime lawyer who works for the Seamen's Church Institute: "The biggest threat to the maritime industry is not piracy. The biggest threat is hiring and retaining enough skilled seafarers. Piracy doesn't help in recruiting, but the real deterrent for the workers who make the world's cheap goods available is spending months away from their families without ever going ashore, even briefly." To read the whole article, go to:

TOY STORY - The Maritime College NROTC Semper Fi Society collected donations of toys and money to support the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve 'Toys for Tots' program. The campaign was led by MIDN MICHAEL BONANZA 1/C, Chapter President and Charlie Company Commander. According to an article on the college website, "During the last few months, Midshipman Bonanza and Semper Fi Society students set up drop boxes at various locations throughout the Maritime Campus." Midshipmen also spent one afternoon collecting toys at the local Toys-R-Us store and solicited more toys at the Parents' Association holiday party. The final count was 415 new, unwrapped toys. [Well done, midshipmen.]

A PIER GETTING A FACE LIFT - The December 16th issue of "Waterwire", the e-mail newsletter of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, reports that Pier A, the last of a string of covered piers that defined Lower Manhattan's waterfront, will be restored to its former glory. "Built in 1886, Pier A was the pride - and headquarters - of the NYC Dept. of Docks & Ferries. Later, in the 20th century, it was used by the New York City Police and Fire Departments, hosting patrol boats and fireboats at its Lower Manhattan dock on the Hudson River." The restoration will be done under the auspices of the Battery Park Authority which plans to make it an active dock and busy public space and once again a 'destination' of Lower Manhattan. (More at and )

SEASON'S GREETINGS - The first candle for Hanukkah was lit on December 11th - The Islamic New Year fell on December 17th - Christmas comes this week - and who know when the next issue of NFFS will appear? Probably in January since travel to a New Year's Day 1st wedding in Virginia is the next project for this editor. Best wishes to one and all for 2010.