Andrew Barnes of Little Bay, Newfoundland, first started working with Marine Atlantic in April of 1974, when it was known as Canadian National Railway (CNR).
Barnes says that since then he has spent most of his life at sea with Marine Atlantic, and it has played a big part in his life. His first work experience with CNR was on the MV Stena Carrier. He says his first sailing was a memorable one; they ended up getting stuck in ice for almost six days. He started as a deckhand, he moved to the position of quartermaster, and then on to carpenter. He stayed in his position of carpenter for the remainder of his time with Marine Atlantic.
Barnes had many memorable experiences during his time with the Corporation. On two occasions he participated in heroic acts.
In December 1989, Barnes was an employee of the deck department on board the MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood. One of his responsibilities was assisting with the Marine Evacuation Systems and routine inspections and training. It was up to Barnes to tie the chute to the platform and stay there while three co-workers rode the chute. He had just finished carrying out the exercise with his co-workers when the raft being used flipped over and sent the three workers into the ocean.
“It was blowing hard that day,” says Barnes. “And it was 20 degrees below.”
Barnes and an engineer were able to grab the first two men out of the water fairly quickly, while it took a few minutes to rescue the third individual.
“We were able to get the first guy in pretty quick, and then the second. I can remember yelling out to the third, trying to find him,” says Barnes
Thankfully, they were able to retrieve him from under the raft.
Marine Atlantic formally recognized Barnes for his heroics, and efforts in saving the lives of three of his co-workers.
Four years later, in October 1993, Barnes found himself involved in another rescue situation. A fishing boat from Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia had caught fire early and was in distress when the crew of the MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood spotted the boat it was about four or five miles away.
When they arrived the fishermen were on the raft, in survival suits, and in good condition. They had been there about three hours. There was a storm brewing so they were especially glad they were picked up. They said they likely would have been stuck out there indefinitely if not for Marine Atlantic.
Thanks to Barnes and the rest of the crew, another disaster at sea was averted.
In July 2003, after 29 years, Andrew Barnes retired. He now lives in Marystown, Newfoundland.