Daily News from New York, New York on November 30, 1980 · 654
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Daily News from New York, New York · 654

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 30, 1980
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16 W ID Sdcll By JOHN LEWIS rNO YOU KNOW there is a part of 10) Manhattan with no crime or L graffiti, clean streets, nice people, peace and quiet, a golf course and a sensational view of the New York skyline? The place is Governors Island. Like a loyal sentinel, Governors Island has been standing watch over New York Harbor for more than 30C years, ever since the Dutch director general; Wouter Van Twiller, bought it from two Indians for two ax heads, a string of beads and a few nails. But while the rest of Manhattan has yielded to progress and its problems, Governors Island has retained its links with the past, with old forts, tree-lined streets and gracious ante-bellum houses dating back to the 1840s. Headquarters for the U.S. Army since Revolutionary War times, the Island's 107 acres now are the home of 5,000 "Coasties" Coast Guard men and women and their families. THE ISLAND CARRIES a Manhat tan postal zone and many of the older children attend junior high school in Manhattan. Under an agreement between the city and federal governments, should the Coast Guard ever pull out, the island reverts back to New York County. "The mayor," as he is known on the island, is Capt. Alan Breed, a 25-year veteran who runs the Coast Guard Support Center, New York, which includes 20 operational and training commands, including the Atlantic Area command headed by Vice Adm. Robert Price, whose jurisdiction extends from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border and as far-west as Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. "My job encompasses more than Mayor Koch's," Breed said. "We try to relieve the operational units of mundane functions such as housing, personnel administration and logistics, so that they can supply the operation support." Like the city, they are underfunded and understaffed for the job they have to do, which ranges from such things as search and rescue operations to catching drug smugglers on the high seas to providing personnel and material for the Cuban refugee crisis. IN ADDITION TO housing, which is sufficient to meet the needs of only two-thirds of the Coast Guard personnel in the New York area, Governor's Island has 32 vessels, its own police and fire departments, an elementary . St ! I :stf --i -if J, 't, 1 1;) Htwf , " S..v.s'-.. .it' v i Si?-?:? V r 1 ... i-Jt At -iitf " .v'; Captain Alan Breed, "mayor" of Govenors Island, stands near antique British canon resting in flower bed near the ferry entrance to the Island. In the late 1920s, the city planned to oust the Army and level the Island to build an airport there. The Army retaliated by building the biggest, most expensive military barracks, large enough to house an entire regiment, right smack in the center of the Island. The building Is now the training center for about 5,000 Coast Guard men and women annually. Capt. Frank Thrall, commanding officer of the training center, said that they have about 500 students on board at a time, teaching them a wide range of courses from gunnery to electronics to search and rescue. The center operates the only national search and rescue school in the world and trains many foreign students in this field. "There is a significant amount of technology involved in finding some guy who has run out of gas while fishing," Thrall said. "Instead of going around in circles the rescue effort is reduced to a mathematical formula. You have to know the time the incident occurred, what the forces of nature are doing to the guy, the weather, wind, the frank russo daily news currents. If you go looking for a guv several hours after the incident occurred chances are you are not going to find him in the same place." school, churches, dispensary, stores, bank, post office, several clubs, a theater, two swimming pools, gymnasiums and the only golf course in New York County. Breed lives in the oldest house on the island, built in 1708 by Britain's-Lord Cornbury, a cousin of Queen Anne. Dubbed "The Smiling Garden of the Sovereigns of the Province," it became the home of subsequent British governors, hence the name Governor's Island. Next, meet Capt. Benjamin Joyce, Captain of the Port of New York. Also headquartered on Governors Island, he has over-all jurisdiction of the New York-New Jersey harbor facilities and waterways extending up the Hudson River as far north as the Newburg Bridge. With a staff of 28 officers and 325 enlisted personnel, Joyce oversees vessels entering the harbor for pollution and safety, and is the only man wh6 can order the Port of New York closed. That situation can occur when there is danger of serious casualty such as an oil or hazardous cargo spill. Only that part of the port impacted by the accident would be closed. IN 1976 SUCH A collision took place involving a container ship, the Sea Witch, and a tanker, ESSO's Brus sels.. Only the area affected by the collision was closed, he said. Now through January and February are the busiest times because more fuel oil and explosive materials enter the port. Joyce said that New York is still tops in the United States in handling value cargo if not in bulk tonnage. Petty officer Paul Mobley, Governors Island historian, said that there are many interesting and historic buildings there such as the Chapel of St Cornelius the Centurian named for the first Roman soldier to convert to Christianity. It contains a collection of battle flags dating back to the French and Indian War, the first flag to fly over the United Nations and a small credence table made from stones of the dungeon in which Joan of Arc was imprisoned in Rouen, France, in 1431. There are two forts on Governor's Island: -Castle Williams, built in 1811 and until recently used as the Army stockade; and Fort Jay, completed about the same time and now used to house Coast Guard personnel and their families. GOVERNORS ISLAND contained the first air field in New York, and in 1906 Wilbur Wright made aviation history by flying from the island around the Statue of Liberty. The following year, Glenn Curtis made a flight from Albany and landed on the Island.' THRALL IS HIGH on New York and urges his young trainees to get out and visit the Big Apple. And the results have been successful.; "In the four years I've been here we have not had one mugging," he said. Capt James Fear is the chief of operations, and most of the operations in the 3d Coast Guard District, from Connecticut to Delaware, fall under his purview. This includes all small search and rescue station boats, and all law enforcement actions performed by the Coast Guard which includes the laws of the United States on the high seas and coastal areas. Under his command are two air stations, one at Floyd Bennett Field where one helicopter always is on "Bravo Zero" status, or ready to take off within seconds 24 hours a day. "We operate the largest fleet of boats in the northeast," Fear said, including the Tamoroa, which recently made a large drug seizure with cooperation of the Panamanian government, and the -cutters Galatin and Dallas, currently on Cuban refugee duty in the Caribbean. Governors Island holds four open house days during the year when everyone can go and roam the island freely. It also offers tours of the facility for groups by appointment only. m a 4 From Castle Williams on Governors Island, a former Army stockade built in 1811, a solitary canon is trained in the direction of Manhattan.

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