Annual Blessing Of The Fleet At Navy Pier

Lisa Fielding
May 18, 2018 - 5:29 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A procession of rescue boats floats off the Navy Pier break wall as they pass the "Cap Streeter" sightseeing ferry. Chaplain Father David Dillon blesses each vessel for a safe boating season.

"The International Shipmasters Association was born out of the idea that mariners take care of each other," said Col. Aaron Reisinger, USACE, Chicago District commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"This fleet about to be blessed are ships that are police and fire boats, Coast Guard vessels, support vessels. Of those who are part of this group are first-responders."

National Maritime Day 2018 is on Tuesday, but a ceremony was held at Navy Pier Friday to bless Chicago area boats and to ensure safety for sailors and boaters.

Blessing Of The Boats
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

"The blessing of the fleet is a tradition that began centuries ago and now is practiced to ensure a safe and bountiful season," said Zeita Merchant, U.S.C.G., Commanding Officer, Marine Safety Unit, Chicago.

A wreath is tossed into the water to remember sailors and mariners who have died in the line of duty.

"This is a time for reflection, a time to remember the fallen mariners who've given their lives to this profession and the family they've left behind," said Capt. Tom Blakely, President Chicago Lodge #3, International Ship Masters Association.

"It's time to stand strong, side by side, with fellow mariners to remember we are never on the water alone."

National Maritime Day is to honor seafarers who died in battle, a tradition since 1886.

"Together as a community, we will continue to create safer waterways on these Great Lakes. Today as a community, we lay a wreath in the water to remember fallen mariners, these Great Lakes have claimed and bless this fleet as we look forward to a season full of safety and prosperity."

WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding