Monday, January 15, marks 15 years since the Miracle on the Hudson, when the passengers and crew were saved when US Airways Flight 1549 landed on the Hudson. It is believed to be the most successful marine rescue in aviation history.
Everyone on board survived.
“The passage of time does not diminish the Miracle on the Hudson. It is part of our legacy, a testament to the training and professionalism of our captains and crews. We will always be proud of the role we played in the rescue of the passengers of Flight 1549 and delight in the fact that all got back on land safely that bitter, cold January day,” said NY Waterway CEO Armand Pohan.
Experts have said that if these ferry crews had not responded as quickly as they did, many people would have died or suffered severe effects of hypothermia.
Capt. Vincent Lombardi had just pulled the ferry Thomas Jefferson away from West 39th Street, the 3:30 p.m. departure, when Flight 1549 drifted in front of him. He was next to the plane in three minutes as deckhands Hector Rabanes and Wilfredo Rivera deployed the Jason’s Cradle and pulled 56 people on board.
Capt. Manny Liba and his crew on the Moira Smith rescued 14 people. Capt. Brittany Catanzaro and her crew on the Gov. Thomas Kean saved 24 people. A minute later, Capt. Vincent LuCante on the ferry Yogi Berra was there, as Capt. Mike Starr, who had jumped aboard at the work dock, pulled in 22 people, including two babies.
A total of 14 NY Waterway ferries responded to the crash, on the Hudson River at 42nd Street, and seven of those ferries removed almost all passengers within minutes, taking them to ferry terminals at West 39th Street in Manhattan and Port Imperial in Weehawken, where office staff had established triage centers and provided their own coats and other items to people who had been exposed to the 30-degree waters of the Hudson River.
When then-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked NY Waterway Vice President of Ferry Operations Alan Warren what his crews were thinking when they saw the plane in the water, Warren answered: “We don’t think. We just react.”
In December 2022, NY Waterway rescued more than 500 passengers from a Staten Island Ferry disabled by an engine room fire.
On 9/11, NY Waterway crews moved within minutes to the seawall one block from the World Trade Center and began evacuating people. Ferry crews, personally directed by Arthur E. Imperatore, Jr., moved 150,000 people from Manhattan that day.
In the August 13, 2003, blackout, when all trans-Hudson traffic was shut down, NY Waterway ferried 160,000 people home to New Jersey.