FILE PHOTO: The U.S.-flagged tug Pops. Photo:

Tug Crew Member Missing After Falling Overboard During Transfer

Mike Schuler
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November 24, 2020

A 42-year-old man is missing after failing overboard while transferring from a commercial tug to a barge near Blount Island in Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday.

The Coast Guard suspended the search for the missing person late Monday night.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville received notification at approximately 3 a.m., Sunday from the “Tugboat Pops” stating a 42-year-old man fell into the water while transiting from the vessel to a barge and did not resurface.

Local 25 Marine Division of the International Union of Operating Engineers identified the missing as Ozzy Martinez, assigned to the Gore Marine tug “Pops”.

“Brothers and Sisters that are working on the Jacksonville jobsite have been searching and assisting in any way they can since the first minute and we know that will not change. We are asking anyone in the vicinity and on the water to keep an eye out. We are continuing to pray for Brother Ozzy and his family and will continue to support them as they pray for a miracle,” a Facebook post by IUOE LOCAL 25 said Tuesday.

The 70-foot Pops is a 1,500 horsepower twin screw model tug registered in the U.S. and homeported in Valona, Georgia, according to Gore Marine’s website. The vessel was originally built in 1961.

“The loss of a fellow professional mariner is especially difficult and our sincerest condolences go out to his family, friends and co-workers,” said Capt. Mark Vlaun, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. “We ask that all mariners keep a sharp lookout while transiting the waterways near Blount Island and to call our command center at 904-714-7555 with any reports of new information. Thank you to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO), Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for their rapid response and partnership throughout this challenging search.”

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