Malloy, Wyman help launch maritime festival

U.S. Navy personnel from the submarine base in Groton wait for the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG-82) to dock at Fort Trumbull State Park in New London, Sept. 6, 2018. The Lassen will be at the pier through Sunday for this weekend's Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival. The Lassen, named for Medal of Honor recipient Commander Clyde Everett Lassen, will be open for tours Friday through Sunday. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
U.S. Navy personnel from the submarine base in Groton wait for the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG-82) to dock at Fort Trumbull State Park in New London, Sept. 6, 2018. The Lassen will be at the pier through Sunday for this weekend's Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival. The Lassen, named for Medal of Honor recipient Commander Clyde Everett Lassen, will be open for tours Friday through Sunday. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

New London — Extolling the region’s links to the sea, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and other dignitaries spoke Thursday morning at a Fort Trumbull State Park ceremony marking the start of the sixth annual Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival, which continues through Sunday.

Behind the podium, the superstructure of the USS Lassen could be seen rising from Pier 7, where the guided-missile destroyer had docked hours earlier, having cruised from its homeport in Jacksonville, Fla.

Mayor Michael Passero said it was fitting that New London hosts the annual festival, given the Whaling City’s connections to the Coast Guard and Navy. He hailed Malloy’s steadfast support of the event and the city in general during his two terms as governor.

“The two of you have graced this city,” Passero said, addressing Malloy and Wyman, who he said have visited the city more frequently than their predecessors. Neither is seeking re-election.

“You really need a residence in New London,” Passero said.

Malloy said that when he took office in 2010, New London “hadn’t gotten a fair shake in a long time,” a circumstance he’s sought to rectify through the state’s commitment to reviving the city as a commercial port.

“New London’s on the rise,” he said. 

Navy Cmdr. Ryan Ventresca, commanding officer of the Lassen, said the ship’s 315-member crew was honored to participate in the festival.

Rear Adm. Andrew Tiongson, commander of the First Coast Guard District in Boston and a 1989 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy, noted that the maritime festival didn’t exist when he was a cadet in New London.

Now, he said, the city is the future site of the National Coast Guard Museum.

“I’ll be collecting donations in a minute,” he quipped.

During the ceremony, two East Lyme fishing charter operators — Marc Berger, 66, and his son, Michael Berger, 30 — were honored for their July 21 rescue of four fishermen who jumped into waters off Niantic when their boat began sinking.

According to a Coast Guard citation, the Bergers were operating a charter excursion aboard their vessel, Lucky Strike, when they spotted the fishermen in the water. Marc Berger steered the Lucky Strike “through rough chop, three knots of current and 20-knot winds," while his son prepared rescue operations, eventually throwing a life ring to each of the men and pulling them in one at a time.

“Most of the credit goes to Mike,” said Marc Berger, who is president of the Connecticut Charter and Party Boat Association.

Marc Berger said any of the association members “would have done the same thing.”

Nearly a dozen ships, including Coast Guard cutters, merchant marine vessels and an array of schooners — some of which docked Thursday at downtown New London piers — were scheduled to participate in the festival’s Parade of Ships along the waterfront, starting at 11 a.m. Friday.

All of the ships, including the Lassen, will be available for free tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Adults seeking to tour the Lassen will be required to show a photo ID.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG-82) passes the waterfront of General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton en route to Fort Trumbull State Park in New London, Conn., Thursday morning, Sept. 6, 2018. The Lassen will be at the pier through Sunday for this weekend's Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG-82) passes the waterfront of General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton en route to Fort Trumbull State Park in New London, Conn., Thursday morning, Sept. 6, 2018. The Lassen will be at the pier through Sunday for this weekend's Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Crew on the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG-82) heave on the dock lines as the ship moors at Fort Trumbull State Park in New London on Thursday morning, Sept. 6, 2018. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Crew on the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG-82) heave on the dock lines as the ship moors at Fort Trumbull State Park in New London on Thursday morning, Sept. 6, 2018. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Marc Berger, right, captain of the charter fishing vessel Lucky Strike, and his son and first mate, Michael Berger, center, are presented with pins honoring them for a rescue of four boaters from the waters off Niantic in July by Lt. Nina McDonald, commander of Coast Guard Station New London, second from left, and Lt. j.g. Brandon Newman, commander of the Coast Guard Cutter Albacore, left, during the kickoff ceremony for the sixth annual Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, at Fort Trumbull State Park in New London.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Marc Berger, right, captain of the charter fishing vessel Lucky Strike, and his son and first mate, Michael Berger, center, are presented with pins honoring them for a rescue of four boaters from the waters off Niantic in July by Lt. Nina McDonald, commander of Coast Guard Station New London, second from left, and Lt. j.g. Brandon Newman, commander of the Coast Guard Cutter Albacore, left, during the kickoff ceremony for the sixth annual Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, at Fort Trumbull State Park in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
The United States Coast Guard Band brass quintet plays the national anthem as some crew from the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Lassen stand in formation for kick off ceremonies for the sixth annual Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018 at Fort Trumbull State Park in New London.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
The United States Coast Guard Band brass quintet plays the national anthem as some crew from the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Lassen stand in formation for kick off ceremonies for the sixth annual Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018 at Fort Trumbull State Park in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Maritime Festival schedule

Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival

Schedule of events:

Wednesday, Sept. 5:

Maritime Career Opportunities Expo, 10 a.m., Submarine Force Museum, Groton.

Thursday, Sept. 6:

Official Welcoming Ceremony, 11 a.m., Fort Trumbull State Park, New London.

“Swingin’ on the Pier” swing dancing, 6 p.m. lessons, 7-9 p.m. dancing, Custom House Pier, New London.

Friday, Sept. 7:

Ship visitations, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., New London waterfront.

Parade of Ships, 11 a.m., New London waterfront.

Morgan Cup Race, 1-3 p.m., viewing at Ocean Beach Park, New London.

Captains and crews welcome party, 4-7 p.m., Hygienic Art, New London. Admission $10. Cash bar.

USCG Dixieland Band, 6:30-8 p.m., City Pier, New London.

The Can Kickers, 8-10 p.m., City Pier, New London.

Flock Theater Presents “The Burning of Benedict Arnold,” 8:30 p.m., City Pier, New London.

Saturday, Sept. 8:

Public ship visitations, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., New London waterfront.

Great New London Chowder Challenge, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., restaurants compete for best chowder.

U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue demonstrations, 1 p.m., Thames River.

Music on the Pier Americana concert, 2:30-8:30 p.m., Custom House Pier, New London.

Sunday, Sept. 9:

Ship visitations, noon to 4 p.m., New London waterfront.

For information, go to www.CTMaritimeFest.com

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