The first ever “Blessing of the Fleet” ceremony for the New Jersey Regional Fire Boat Task Force, the nation’s first shared marine dispatching system, was held in Weehawken this morning.Â
“The result of identifying these protective critical infrastructure and key resources at the Port of New York and New Jersey is that the fire departments we honor today have applied for and received port security grant funding to purchase vessels, and related equipment, to receive specialized marine firefighting and search and rescue operations,” explained Michael Day, a captain at the Port of NY/NJ and also a Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard (New York Sector).
He continued that the NJRFBTF has responded to an average of eight calls per assistance, per month, since their inception in September – totaling to 60 calls as of Friday.
The new marine task force consists of 12 different fire departments: Edgewater, Hoboken, Jersey City, Bayonne, Kearny, Newark, Carteret, Linden, Perth Amboy, Elizabeth, Secaucus and North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue.
The endeavor was made possible by a $1 million effort made possible by U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez (both D-NJ), as well as U.S. Reps. Donald Payne (D-10) and Albio Sires (D-8).
“We will continue to make sure that we fight for everybody that we can so that we can have days like this today. Our area is very vulnerable,” Sires said in front of dozens of first responders at The Chart House Restaurant.
“We have probably the most vulnerable area in the country and we need this kind of security and this kind of help and I’m very proud to sit here with all of these people in uniform here today.”
Following the ceremony, representatives from several different faiths stood on the main deck of the restaurant to perform “a traditional maritime blessing” for all the participating vessels traveling along the Hudson River.