Park Service boat hauls supplies to hurricane ravaged islands

MV Fort Jefferson

Above: MV Fort Jefferson. NPS photo.

A lot of people have not heard of a park that is 68 miles west of Key West, Florida. Dry Tortugas National Park is comprised of seven islands, plus protected coral reefs. Garden Key is home to beaches and the 19th-century Fort Jefferson. The National Park Service operates a boat named after the fort that makes regular runs to the park. It turns out that a boat is one of the best ways to haul large quantities of supplies to hurricane damaged islands.

From the National Park Service on September 25, 2017:

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Homestead, Fla. – The 110-foot MV [Motor Vessel] Fort Jefferson, normally used to transport staff and supplies to Dry Tortugas National Park, has been loaded with over 24 tons of supplies and equipment for national parks in the Caribbean following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The vessel departed today and will make the 78-hour trip from Key West to the Caribbean national parks this week.

“We are grateful to Dry Tortugas National Park for use of their vessel to get critical supplies to our Caribbean parks,” said [Eastern Incident Management Team] Incident Commander James King. “When I contacted Park Superintendent Pedro Ramos, he didn’t bat an eye and immediately offered his support.”

On Sunday, September 24, EIMT logistics personnel loaded over 20 pallets of food, water, fuel, and generators on the vessel. Three National Park Service boat crewmembers along with four Law Enforcement Rangers will accompany the shipment to the Caribbean. The boat is transporting supplies and resources to Virgin Islands National Park on the island of St. John and Christiansted National Historic Site on the island of St. Croix.

MV Fort Jefferson
NPS photo.

In addition to transporting supplies for the National Park Service, the vessel is also transporting six pallets of supplies for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a sister agency within the Department of the Interior. The agency has employees on the Caribbean Islands, who normally work at three National Wildlife Refuges. The two agencies have worked closely through Hurricanes Irma and Maria on stabilization, cleanup, and recovery efforts.

Employee accountability and care continue to be primary concerns of the National Park Service. Employees at all six national parks in the Caribbean have been accounted for, with the exception of San Juan National Historic Site where employee communications are currently hampered by power outages, flooding, and inaccessible roadways.

Additional updates on the status of these parks can be found at http://go.nps.gov/hurricane. Photos may be found at www.flickr.com/photos/nps_eimt.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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2 thoughts on “Park Service boat hauls supplies to hurricane ravaged islands”

  1. I was lucky to work for Pedro Ramos on two different large fire assignments when he was the Superintendent at Big Cypress. He is an outstanding Superintendent and truly good guy. No surprise that he his helping out.

  2. That is awesome they’re helping out but I am not at all surprised. Brought back some memories as I was fortunate enough to have done a detail in the Everglades National Park in the winter of 86/87. One of the perks was a free boat ride to Dry Tortugas National Monument. Awesome place to visit (boat ride or sea plane). The boat ride out was smooth sailing and had a wonderful stay on the island. Rough seas on the trip back, seasick but OK until a wave broke the front windshield out and the cockpit took on a lot of water. Got back safely to the mainland.

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