William Keefe and Marvin Coon, center, were honored by the

Calvert County Commissioners

Prince Frederick, MD – Two crew members of the Calvert Marine Museum’s (CMM) Wm. B. Tennison were honored Tuesday, Sept. 30 for their live-saving actions earlier in the month.

According to a memo to the Calvert County Commissioners from CMM Director Doug Alves, the vessel’s crew rendered aid to a man who had fallen off his personal watercraft during an excursion on the Patuxent River Saturday, Sept. 6.

The crewmembers were identified as relief captain William Keefe and relief mate Marvin Coon.

“At 7:35 p.m. in growing darkness and with thunderstorms in the offing, the crew spotted an object in the water off the starboard bow,” Alves stated. “Upon closer observation, it was seen to be an overturned personal watercraft with a man in a personal flotation device clinging to the craft. The position was about one-half mile north of the Thomas Johnson Bridge, in deep water.”

At the time, Keefe and Coon were carrying 35 passengers about the vessel. The passengers were on a special “War of 1812” cruise. Alves stated that Keefe explained to the passengers that the crew had a responsibility to render aid. Before attempting to rescue the man Keefe had notified the U.S. Coast Guard of the situation.

The crew subsequently rescued the man and towed the personal watercraft while managing to overcome communications difficulties with the Coast Guard, darkness, threatening weather and concerns about the safety of the 35 passengers. The Wm. B. Tennison was subsequently met by the Solomons Volunteer Rescue Squad and Fire Department’s (Company 3) boat where the personal watercraft operator and his vehicle were transferred. Company 3’s vessel had been dispatched by the Coast Guard.

“The Tennison arrived safely back at the museum dock at 8:55 p.m.,” Alves stated. “The story had a happy ending but it might have turned tragic if the Tennison had not been keeping a good lookout or had left the rescue to others and proceeded on its way.”

During the Sept. 30 meeting, Commissioner Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark [R] thanked Keefe and Coon “for their due diligence. Ultimately, they may have saved this gentleman’s life.”

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com