US Coast Guard Petty Officer 1C Marc Harrell of Niantic launched a new career on the water on Friday November 2 when Work Vessels for Vets presented the 35 foot commercial vessel Dominion I donated by Dominion Energy.
Following more than a decade of Coast Guard service that encompassed tours of duty at sea, in the air and on-shore, most recently, as a C-130 aircraft crewmember at the International Ice Patrol in New London, Petty Officer 1C Harrell appealed to Work Vessels for Vets, Inc., a Mystic-based charity that has equipped more than 1800 veteran-owned businesses in all 50 states with tools and equipment valued at more than $2.5 million.
“I am looking for help starting a one-of-a-kind business to develop an oyster farm to be run by a veteran for veterans,” wrote Harrell. “I have been spending my off hours for the last five years working with the Noank Aquaculture Co-Operative, learning the trade, developing a viable plan, and finding a passion for growing oysters.”
Petty Officer Harrell went on to write that the skills to make a successful oyster farmer are the same practical skills we learn in the military – self-reliance, a strong work ethic, purpose and leadership. He believes that aquaculture therapy and time on the water will offer veterans new training and employment opportunities as well as therapeutic experiences after combat. He is dedicated to have a business run by veterans for veterans.
Finding a seaworthy vessel with the size and specifications for commercial fishing was a tall task for Work Vessels for Vets. “We were thrilled when Nancy Bulkeley of Dominion Energy/Millstone Power Station called to offer to donate their research vessel Dominion I,” said Cathy Cook, Executive Director of the charity. “We have just the applicant. His business plan was ready, but we had no idea where we could find or afford the large vessel he needed. This is a wonderful match!”
“Dominion Energy has a long history of supporting veterans and veteran charities,” said Don Landers, supervisor of the Millstone Power Station Environmental Lab. “For the past four decades, this boat has supported our mission of compliance and environmental stewardship by monitoring local marine life around Millstone. It’s an honor to be able to pass it on to a veteran who will continue to use it on Long Island Sound and improve the lives of other veterans by teaching them skills for new careers in the sustainable aquaculture of shellfish and seaweed.”