9/11 victims
PHOTO CREDIT: Florida News Times

American maritime interests held an event on Friday in New York Harbour in recognition of 20 years since the September 11 attacks, which triggered the largest maritime evacuation in U.S. history.

The event included a ceremony, vessel procession and blessing of the fleet to honour 9/11 victims.

Dozens of vessels joined the New York Harbour procession, including private ships, ferries, and tugboats that participated in the 9/11 boatlift rescue from Lower Manhattan. The procession was led by New York City Fire Boats that honoured those lost and the contributions of American Maritime on 9/11 with a red, white and blue water cannon salute.

The event commemorated the over half a million survivors ferried from lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001 by American Maritime carriers and over 800 mariners. The event was hosted by the American Maritime Partnership, New York Council of the Navy League, Transportation Institute, Towboat and Harbour Carriers Association, Passenger Vessel Association, Port Authority of NY/NJ, Sandy Hook Pilots, and Seaman’s Church Institute.

“A shining light on an otherwise dark and tragic day twenty years ago this week was the heroic response by American Maritime operators in New York Harbour who answered the call of the United States Coast Guard to spontaneously organise the evacuation of more than 500,000 Americans at the southern tip of Manhattan — an effort that took only nine hours and became the largest water evacuation in U.S. history,” said American Maritime Partnership, one of the event organisers.

“Within minutes of the call for help, American Maritime vessels of all shapes and sizes responded selflessly and ensured that the events on that fateful day were not even worse. The American Maritime Partnership remembers and mourns all Americans lost that day, and expresses its deepest gratitude to the men and women of American Maritime for their selfless response and service.”

The boatlift of 9/11 was the largest water evacuation in history. After road, tunnel, and railway closures out of New York City, over half a million people were stranded in lower Manhattan following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre.

American vessels transported over 500,000 survivors from lower Manhattan across the harbour to safety, and the rescue was larger than the evacuation of 340,000 American-allied troops at Dunkirk. The rescue effort involved over 150 American Maritime vessels, including passenger ferries, tugboats, merchant ships, private vessels, and New York City Fire Department and Police Department boats. More than 800 American mariners participated in the boatlift evacuation of September 11th.