NEW YORK – Capt. Gordon Loebl, commander, Coast Guard Sector New York, in Staten Island, N.Y., gave remarks on the significant role of the Coast Guard during a 9/11 observance ceremony, held at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island, N.Y.
Sector New York personnel stood in formation for morning colors and the ceremony, which honored the fallen and recognized the significant role of the Coast Guard during the maritime evacuation of Lower Manhattan, in what is now called boatlift.
“Immediately after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, we directed the waterborne evacuation and rescue of approximately 500,000 civilians from Manhattan Island,” said Loebl. “In less than a day, more people were evacuated from Manhattan than were carried off the beaches of Dunkirk in a week.”
In the critical hours that followed, Loebl recalled, five Coast Guard cutters, 12 small boats and more than 100 public and private vessels maneuvered around the waters off Manhattan to rescue people off the sea walls, parks and piers and to support the emergency response effort in the largest maritime evacuation in history.
Marine Inspectors and Marine Investigators were deployed to man the ferries to insure safe order, prevent overloading and to be a calming presence to the public. A lieutenant who went to the ferries on a later shift that night reported that passengers broke down and cried when they saw him in uniform.
The Sandy Hook Pilots volunteered the Pilot Boat New York to serve as an on-scene command post, with Coast Guard personnel onboard. It anchored on the Hudson River just off the World Trade Center site.
In addition to the maritime evacuation response, Coast Guardsmen responded ashore. Personnel went into smoke-filled subway stations to direct people toward the waterway for evacuation.
“These members participated in some remarkable assistance calls,” said Loebl. “Our people controlled crowds at the ferries, assisted the New York Fire Department by helping to dig out its equipment and cleared paths for more response vehicles after the towers collapsed.”
“We should never ever forget the horrific day,” said Loebl. “We should never, ever relax our vigilance. We should never doubt that there are those who wish us harm, for whom no act is too reprehensible. We have a mission, one that transcends ordinary concerns, one so righteous that it can be considered a calling. We are here so that there will never be another 9-11.”