Captain P.C. Kelley and the Joshua A. Hatfield to the Rescue

Captain Peter Cornelius Kelley’s son, Mike, believes this picture may have been taken in the 1960s during the Blessing of the Fleet Ceremony in Conneaut.  Left to Right, Captain Robert W. Parsons, Captain Ralph Haegerty, Captain John Paul Perkings, Captain Peter Cornelius Kelley, and Captain Willis “Sandy” Seyfert.

May 22, 1963


Pick-Up Successful in Eight Foot Waves and High Winds

Two Cleveland City firemen adrift in a powerless boat 21 hours were rescued by the crew of Pittsburgh Steamship’s Joshua Hatfield, after a fearsome night on wild Lake Erie near the Canadian shore on May 22nd. The men, Frank Kelly, 34, and Jim Gipper, 30, both from Engine Company 19, were cold and wet but in good condition after a sleepless night spent battling 20-mile-an-hour winds, and waves eight feet high.

In an interview with The Great Lakes Sailor, they expressed their heart-felt gratitude to all the members of the crew and particularly to Captain P.C. Kelley for his excellent seamanship in getting them aboard and taking their craft in tow. “I can understand now why they say Great Lakes sailors are the best fed in the world,” observed Kelly, “for Steward G.A. Gapezynski certainly warmed us, both physically and morally with his hearty meal after we were taken aboard.”

Southwesterly winds had driven them some sixteen miles when the Hatfield picked them up nineteen miles northeast of Marblehead Lighthouse. They had jettisoned their 55-horsepower motor to keep the boat from swamping and their hands were reddened from a night of bailing and rowing.

The men began fishing on Tuesday, May 21st, off Catawba Island, picking that spot because of small craft warnings. When the lake calmed, they put out for South Bass Island, where they fished until 6 p.m.

As they returned to shore, the outboard motor struck a submerged rock and split

the propeller casing. Coast Guard Cutter No. 40500, a utility boat of forty feet executed an orderly transfer of the two men and their craft from the Hatfield and put them ashore at the Marblehead Coast Guard Station.

The Marine Division of the United Steelworkers of America salutes and commends the crew and officers of the Joshua Hatfield for a heroic job well done.