Coming to help on short notice is nothing new for the crew of the famed FDNY fireboat John J. Harvey.
So when this year's Oyster Festival's featured nautical attraction, Amistad America, developed mechanical problems and cancelled its upcoming appearance, The Harvey was on its way.
"The Harvey agreed to come in as soon as we called them," said Kerry Gillick-Goldberg, co-director of public relations for the which returns to Oyster Bay's waterfront on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 13-14.
The original Amistad was the storied slave ship where 53 African captives revolted against their captors off Havana in 1839. The captives gained control of the ship and commanded the ship’s navigator to return them to Sierra Leone.
But the ship turned north and landed on Long Island where it was taken into custody by the US Navy. The captives were sold as slaves in Connecticut but after a lengthy court battle, earned their freedom in 1841.
The replica of that ship, the Amistad America, was launched in 2000 and works with international organizations to raise awareness of that dark era of the slave trade and the noble efforts of the Abolitionist movement. The new Amistad travels widely and has been visited by thousands of school children.
Over the past weekend, the ship suffered mechanical difficulties off the coast of Maine and the crew determined it was unlikely repairs could be made in time for the Oyster Festival, Gillick-Goldberg said.
Festival organizers called the owners of The Harvey Sunday night, and they answered the call.It wasn't the first time:
While still being restored, the retired FDNY fireboat was pressed back into service on Sept. 11, 2001. The crew steamed to lower Manhattan and served as a floating pumping station during the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero.
The Harvey will join a host of other vessels for the 29th edition of the two-day festival. Last year, the event drew some 200,000 people to Oyster Bay's waterfront.
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