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November 22, 2013

Sea Tow Services International, Inc. Honors Sea Tow Captains

Sea Tow Capains will be honored for their life saving efforts in 2013

Sea Tow Services International Inc., the nation’s leading on-water assistance provider, honored individual members of the Sea Tow network for Life Saving Efforts and for Efforts Above and Beyond the call of duty at the Sea Tow Awards Banquet on November 20, 2013. The event, which also celebrated Sea Tow’s 30thAnniversary, capped the organization’s 2013 Annual Meeting held in Charlotte, N.C., on November 18-21.
 
Keynote speaker, U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral William “Dean” Lee, Deputy for Operations Policy and Capabilities, opened the Annual Awards Banquet by thanking Sea Tow’s U.S. Coast Guard-licensed Captains, franchise owners and support staff for their ongoing partnership with the Coast Guard in promoting boating safety and aiding maritime rescue operations across the country.
 
Rear Admiral Lee joined Sea Tow Founder & CEO Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer and Chief Operating Officer Capt. Joseph Frohnhoefer III in presenting the following awards to Sea Tow Captains who were “local heroes” in the past year.
 
Sea Tow Citations for Life Saving Efforts: These awards are presented to members of the Sea Tow network whom, while on duty during the past year, have rescued or attempted to rescue any person from drowning, shipwreck or accident in the maritime domain. The 2013 honorees were:

Sea Tow Fort Lauderdale Captains Robert Casey and Greg Mallek, and Franchise Owner Captain Timothy Morgan:Just past midday on November 22, 2012, Thanksgiving Day, in Hillsboro Inlet, Capt. Casey relieved Capt. Mallek on patrol and headed out in his 33-foot Sea Tow boat. It was bright and sunny with winds blowing from the north at 22-25 knots and stronger gusts pushing hard against the north-flowing Gulf Steam, producing five to seven-foot seas and occasional seas greater than eight feet at the inlet’s entrance. While heading outbound, Capt. Casey spotted a 45-foot catamaran in the Atlantic Ocean proceeding towards the inlet. As the boat turned into the inlet, the vessel lost forward momentum and instantly capsized, sending 23 people into the water. Miraculously, someone on the boat was able to issue a Mayday call to the Coast Guard, which also prompted Sea Tow Capts. Morgan and Mallek to respond.

Without hesitation or concern for his own safety, Capt. Casey negotiated through the inlet’s rough conditions towards the wreck. Exhibiting expert seamanship and boat handling skills, he deftly maneuvered his boat through the debris field to the largest group of survivors, and single-handedly rescued nine people, including a 14-year-old-girl and the boat’s captain. Meanwhile, Captains Morgan and Mallek arrived on scene in separate boats. Between them, they rescued the remaining people from the water. All three returned their survivors ashore, or transferred them to awaiting law enforcement boats. Capt. Mallek returned to the capsized boat, and dove beneath it to verify that no one was trapped inside or under the wreck. Although all the boat’s passengers were accounted for, one person died as a result of the accident. However, if not for the selfless actions and courage of the Sea Tow Captains, more people could have perished.

Sea Tow Lower New York Owner and Captain Cody Catapano: Late on the night of December 14, 2012, Capt. Catapano responded to a Mayday call from a mariner whose boat was on fire in Jamaica Bay, N.Y. Soon after initial notification, Capt. Catapano lost communications with the distressed boat. He quickly told the Coast Guard that he and a deckhand were underway to the scene. He also called New York Police Department Aviation and verified that a harbor unit was also underway heading to the boat’s last known position. The weather was clear and very cold, with air temperatures in the mid-20s and a water temperature of between 38-40 degrees. Winds were blowing at roughly 15 knots creating a moderate chop on the water. In addition, aids to navigation had been disrupted and large areas of shoreline lights were still out following Super Storm Sandy, which created additional navigation challenges.

Within minutes of receiving the first call, Capt. Catapano arrived on scene to a boat fully engulfed in flames. Maintaining a vigilant lookout for survivors, Catapano caught a flash of light away from the boat and against the darkened shoreline. Based on local knowledge, he knew there should not be a light there and made the decision to move towards it. Upon verifying that it was person waving a mobile phone, Catapano moved alongside the person, who was the boat owner, sitting in a deflated toy raft. Catapano and his deckhand quickly pulled the survivor aboard the Sea Tow boat, got him into the cabin and wrapped him in blankets. A quick vitals check revealed he was okay, but suffering from hypothermia. Catapano verified that no one else was aboard the burning vessel. Catapano notified law enforcement and then proceeded to bring the survivor to shore, while a New York Fire Department marine unit extinguished the boat fire. If not for Catapano’s vigilant lookout, local knowledge and intuition, this person may have perished due to hypothermia.