February 22, 2010

Sea Hunter good to go, Coast Guard says

By Bill Nemitz bnemitz@pressherald.com

ABOARD THE SEA HUNTER — The Maine ship Sea Hunter has been cleared by the Coast Guard to continue its relief mission to Haiti.

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Sea Hunter owner Greg Brooks, cleared to continue his humanitarian mission to Haiti, waves farewell to Coast Guard inspectors this morning.

Bill Nemitz/Staff Columnist

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“You’re in a better position than when you arrived,” Lt. Cmdr. Michael Lingaitis told Sea Hunter owner Greg Brooks after an hour-long inspection of the vessel this morning. “You’re a lot safer.”

Lingaitis and Coast Guard inspector Paul Bates came aboard in rough seas and toured the length of the 220-foot ship.

After inspecting both the ship’s cargo, living quarters and engine room, they then observed as the Sea Hunter’s crew and two volunteers conducted a fire drill and an abandon-ship drill.

Lingaitis then called Coast Guard Station Miami Beach and spoke with his superior, Capt. Cindy Stowe, who directed him to lift a “hold order” placed on the ship 10 days ago.

Brooks and Shipmaster Kevin Garthwaite of Wells, who volunteered to guide the Sea Hunter to Haiti to alleviate Coast Guard concerns over the lack of a licensed crew, spent the morning preparing for the visit and reviewing emergency procedures with all aboard.

“I’ve got it. I’ve got the release,” said a jubilant Brooks, waving the document freshly signed by Lingaitis. “They ain’t getting that back!”

Brooks said the Sea Hunter still needs to hoist its tender, the Mini Me, aboard before hoisting its anchor.

The ship should be under way for Haiti by this evening, he said.

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