By Frank McCormack
Blessey Marine Services’ christening ceremonies, while highlighting the company’s newest additions to its towboat fleet, always focus more on the person the vessel is named for than on the vessel itself. Never was that more true than at the May 13 christening of the mv. Erin C. Grenon.
The mv. Erin C. Grenon, a 76- by 35-foot towboat from Raymond & Associates in Bayou La Batre, Ala., is named for the late wife of Dustyn Grenon, vice president of operations at Blessey Marine.
Grenon started at Blessey Marine Services in 1996 as a tankerman. He moved shoreside—and to New Orleans—for Blessey in 1999.
Not long afterward, Melissa Crossin, who also works for Blessey, introduced him to her sister Erin.
“I met Erin on June 18, 1999. I know this because she kept very, very accurate records. She documented our lives together,” Grenon said at the christening ceremony, held at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans. “That’s 5,444 days ago. My life changed.”
“A beautiful woman inside and out,” he added, “she lived life to the fullest each and every day.”
The couple married in November 2002.
“She taught me more about myself and was an incredible confidant and friend,” Dustyn said. “I’m forever grateful for the time on this earth I shared with such an incredible wife.”
In March 2011, Erin suffered a head injury after falling from a ladder. She died almost a year later in February 2012.
At the christening ceremony, person after person celebrated Erin and the life she lived and testified to the profound impact she had on each of their lives.
“Erin was a giver. She was a great wife, a great daughter, a great sister,” Blessey Marine Services chairman and chief executive officer Walter Blessey said. “She gave one of her kidneys to her sister, Melissa, who might not be here today without that gift.”
Clark Todd, president and chief operating officer for Blessey, echoed that message.
“She touched a lot of people in this room, and I can tell that by the number of people here today,” Todd said.
Elizabeth Wisner, daughter of Blessey’s wife, Jane Ann, addressed the crowd, drawing some comparisons between Blessey Marine and Erin. Wisner said a sense of family and friendship is central to the Blessey team.
“And when I think of Erin, I think of happiness,” Wisner said. “Her smile lit up every corner of every dark room. She made everyone smile. She went through life with this huge ray of sunshine around her the entire time.”
Wisner said the boat bearing Erin’s name is strong, like Erin herself.
“From the outside [Erin] was this graceful, beautiful woman, but on the inside she was incredibly strong,” she said. “That’s something I always admired.”
Wisner also compared the reflection of the mv. Erin C. Grenon in calm waters to the self-reflection she saw in Erin.
“When you see the boat, I hope you think about these three qualities that Erin represented: happiness, strength and self-reflection,” Wisner said. “I challenge all of you to really use all of those characteristics and put your best foot forward and fulfill all of your potential in life.”
Grenon said Blessey approached him about naming a boat after Erin just a few months after her death. During the ceremony, he thanked Blessey for his support during Erin’s illness and in the days since.
“Walter, I want to thank you first off for this amazing honor. I will never get tired of seeing that name on a boat. It’s amazing. Thank you so much,” Grenon said. “Whether we are having tough conversations about work or [when] he had cried with me bedside looking at Erin, he’s been there by my side over the years.”
Father Paul Hart, Erin’s longtime pastor, offered a prayer for the mv. Erin C. Grenon, the crew, the Blessey family, and all affected by Erin’s life.
“We know, Lord God, that with your grace we will all drop anchor one day—the anchor, a symbol of hope—in our final port of call called heaven,” Hart said. “Until then, guide us through the rough seas of life and bring us peace.”
Afterward, Grenon, buttressed by Erin’s two sisters, Melissa and Kelli Ramon, shattered a bottle of champagne over the ship’s rail, officially christening the mv. Erin C. Grenon into the Blessey fleet.
The mv. Erin C. Grenon
According to Curtis Christian, a 15-year Blessey veteran and captain of the boat, the mv. Erin C. Grenon will push pressure barges anywhere between Houston, New Orleans and Pascagoula, Miss.
The mv. Erin C. Grenon is propelled by twin Cummins K38M-II engines from Cummins Mid-South that combine for 1,700 horsepower. Service power comes from twin Cummins QSB7DM 85kw generators. Karl Senner supplied the Grenon’s Reintjes WAF474 gears that have a 7.1:1 ratio. The vessel’s Kahlenberg stainless steel 4-blade propellers measure 76 by 59 inches.
Gulf Coast Hydraulics outfitted the boat with its steering system. D&G provided the ship’s electronics, and Baton Rouge Marine Electric supplied the alarm system. Vessel doors are by Dale’s Welding, and the Grenon’s deck winches are by Donovan Marine.
The Grenon’s fire suppression system comes from Herbert Hiller.
The mv. Erin C. Grenon is the 75th vessel in the Blessey Marine Services fleet.Erin Grenon Christening