Greenport captain earns Coast Guard award for heroics at sea

06/16/2015 5:59 AM |
Cmdr. Jonathan Theel, of Sector Long Island Sound (left) presents the commendation to Greenport fishing captain Sid Smith. (Credit: courtesy)

Cmdr. Jonathan Theel, of Sector Long Island Sound (left) presents the commendation to Greenport fishing captain Sid Smith. (Credit: courtesy)

The U.S. Coast Guard has honored Greenport captain Sid Smith for rescuing four sailors whose tugboat capsized in rough seas last October.

And that’s not the only award he’s being considered for.

Mr. Smith, of the fishing vessel Merit, earned the Meritorious Public Servant Award at a U.S. Coast Guard task force meeting last month.

“Through quick thinking and bold leadership, the Captain and crew of the Merit saved four of their fellow mariners,” reads a commendation. “The actions of Captain Smith are most heartily commended and are in keeping with the highest traditions of public service.”

Mr. Smith and his two crew members — Gary Detrick of Greenport and Ernie Nicholson of Rhode Island — were fishing off the Rhode Island coast on Oct. 22 when they received a distress call from a 55-foot-long tugboat, the Karen Jean. The tug had taken on water in the stormy seas and was capsizing, tossing all four crew members into the churning water.

“Braving gale force winds,” according to the commendation, Mr. Smith steered towards the last known location of the sinking ship and rescued its crew, going so far as to lean over the side of his own ship to pull aboard the Karen Jean‘s exhausted captain.

The commendation by the Coast Guard came as a surprise, Mr. Smith said in an interview this week.

“There were a lot of emotions,” he said as he recalled the ceremony.

Now, Mr. Smith says he’s up for another award. The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission became aware of his rescue and nominated him for an award, he said. The organization, which was first established in 1904, gives out medals to a select few individuals each year.

Mr. Smith says he filled out a questionnaire sent by the commission for the medal, though he’s not sure when the winners will be announced.

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