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A View from Staten Island
By Capt. Robert Fay
Aug 14, 2011, 12:26pm

"I delivered sandwiches to the people building the World Trade Center as a kid and later worked there," said Capt. Robert Fay, master of the Navy fast sealift ship USNS Denebola. "It's mind-boggling."

Fay's ship is docked across New York Harbor at a Staten Island pier where a command center has been lodging and feeding up to 250 personnel daily. The command center was running out of room, so Fay and his crew volunteered to house some of the overflow. Denebola's current reduced-operating status calls for only a small maintenance crew, so 35 staterooms were empty.

On their first night as hosts, Sept. 14, the Denebola crew welcomed 65 New York firefighters, some of whom had been on duty 48 hours straight. "The firefighters' faces were blank as they boarded the ship," said Fay, a native New Yorker. "They described Ground Zero as a war zone. We've been standing here watching helplessly across the harbor, so it feels good to help."

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