Aboard the newest ferry for Plum Island Animal Disease Center last Tuesday, Alice Kramer of Southold did the honors, cracking a bottle of champagne over the hull.
The christening ceremony was held in honor of Ms. Kramer’s late husband, for whom the boat is named: Edward V. Kramer.
Mr. Kramer, who died in 2015 at 79, worked at Plum Island for more 60 years.
He started as a laboratory animal technician in July of 1954 at age 19, and after training, began as a microbiologist in 1959.
He also served as an air traffic controller in the U.S. Air Force.
“The lab has been here for about 65 years, so he’s been here since the beginning,” said Dr. Larry Barrett, director of the federal lab. “He just couldn’t stay away.”
Dr. Barrett, who knew Mr. Kramer for 12 years, remembers commuting with him each morning from Orient Point. He remembers Mr. Kramer as a science lover who made a lasting impact on the research conducted at Plum Island, specifically on hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
“He was a hard worker. He always wanted to share information he got with other scientists. He was a walking research journal who always had information in his hands, or his head,” Dr. Barrett said.
“All the young scientists liked to work with him.”
After being nominated, the staff at Plum Island overwhelmingly chose to name the new ferry for Mr. Kramer. It marks the first time a boat was named for an employee of Plum Island and not a director.
More than 100 current and former colleagues at Plum Island joined with Mr. Kramer’s friends and family, who witnessed the christening ceremony.
His family then took the first ride on the new 123-foot vessel, which will be used as a passenger ferry for New York and Connecticut-based staff who travel daily to the Plum Island facility.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokesperson John Verrico said the boat could carry 149 passengers and vehicles up to 34 feet. It will supplement two existing ferries that are approximately 24 years old, he said.
One of Dr. Barrett’s favorite memories of Mr. Kramer was introducing him to visitors as a senior staff member with over 60 years of service. “People would look at me like they heard it wrong,” he said.
The research facility gives out pins to commemorate different lengths of service, Mr. Barrett said. “There’s no pin for over 50 years, so we couldn’t give him a pin.”
Instead, Mr. Kramer’s legacy will continue aboard the new ferry, carrying a new generation of scientists and researchers to the research center.
Photo caption: Mrs. Alice Kramer of Southold, NY, christens the MV Edward V. Kramer at Plum Island Harbor on December 11, with assistance from Charles LaCour, head of Plum Island’s Marine Operations. (U.S. Department of Homeland Security courtesy photo)