A ship’s crew member flees through the swamp of Fernandina Harbor
Security has been tightened Port of Fernandina since a crew member of one of the ships decided to stay in America in a continued way for hundreds of years – he left the ship and tried to find a place to stay without attracting too much ‘Warning.
News of the man’s alleged illegal entry into the United States appears to be second thoughts for the Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA) President, Danny Fullwood.
“There’s nothing to report from port security – all good,” Fullwood said at the OHPA meeting Wednesday night. “Actually, there was a problem with the ship we were talking about. Someone escaped from the ship. One of the crew left port through the swamp overnight. They never found it – maybe it was eaten by alligators in that swamp, I don’t know.
“They now have a police officer who sits there 24 hours a day watching that ship. There’s a gangway — If that gangway goes down…in the morning, I know there’s a crew member who goes down and checks the water line, because he has to, goes back up and the gangway goes back up to unless they have to get off the ship for some other reason. Some of them can do it if they have the proper documentation to do so.
Nassau Terminals pays the policeman for the security work. Crew member believed to be Vietnamese, CEO of Nassau Terminals Chris Raguci said, and Fullwood noted that he was still missing at the time of the reunion.
“They have a description of him, he was captured by our cameras, so they have an idea of what he looks like,” Ragucci said. “They saw him coming out through the swamp.”
There are really only two ways to get from the harbor – east into Fernandina Beach or west across the Amelia River and the marshes which are difficult to cross at low tide. The natural barrier is usually enough to deter most people from crossing it to get to the mainland. Amelia Island is longitudinal, so heading south isn’t much help, and go far enough north and you’ll catch the attention of security at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base .
“It’s fenced, but the guards open the gate to let the trains through,” Ragucci said.
The crew member took the tracks and walked through the open gate, Fullwood added, to reach the swamp.
“It’s happened before,” Fullwood said, “but it’s more peculiar now.”