U.S. Flag Able Seaman Lost at Sea

[FONT=TimesNewRomanPSMT][SIZE=3]I was recently relieved by a fellow S.U.P. sailor named Joe Marusak, as an AB Watchstander on the APL Philippines. I had recently sailed with Joe and liked him, he was a good guy. He relieved me on February 6th and was lost at sea on February 20th four days out of Yokohama, Japan. After a thourough search of the ship the vessel reversed course and did a grid search for 24 hours. After which the crew gathered for a ceremony where they all signed a life ring and threw it overboard at his last known position. The voyage then continued as it had to. Very sad and very strange. The following are the comments of the S.U.P. Vice President, very well Written IMO.
[FONT=TimesNewRomanPSMT][SIZE=3]Joe Marusak, Lost at Sea
We’ve seen our share of final departures, and those that made that trip at sea among
them. Rolando de Guzman, Chris Bright, Mark Jones, Billy McAndrew, to name only
a recent few. Now Joe, who didn’t show up on the bridge for the four-to-eight watch,
joins legions of others in the annals of SUP history, properly recorded as lost at sea.
I saw him aboard ship in Oakland and descending the gangway I remember thinking
that he didn’t look right. I couldn’t place it but when the call came a week later that he
was missing and the ship was searching it instantly seemed like a horrible puzzle had
been solved. Later, when we learned that the details did not mix well with a deliberate
step into the deep—that there was no abnormal behavior, that he had worked all day,
that he had taken a cash draw against wages for shore leave in Yokohama, that there
was no note—I felt worse than before as the mystery of it spins in the mind. Many
members have asked for an explanation but with so little information an explanation is
not available. He didn’t turn to for watch and so the gang searched the ship, reversed
course and searched the sea. If you like, you can think he slipped, or that he was taking
some kind of risk, or that there was an acute medical emergency that clouded his
judgment, or an unseen rogue sea or any other combination of events that might have
led to his demise and you would be as accurate as any other speculation. The search
for a reasonable cause of an incomprehensible event is a search that never ends. So to
stop the circularity I will impose for myself an order on the meager and contradictory
facts. Beneath a calm surface Joe was locked in hot battle, gripped with terror and
repeatedly lashed by a mental agony that we might imagine but not sense. Extreme
depression has been described as the inability to construct a future. In that context it
might help to imagine Joe’s situation as like that of a man making a snap decision at
the window of a burning building many stories above the street. This “lesser of two
evils” account may only be the fiction that comforts for it surely cannot be substantiated
in the case of our brother the sailor Joe Marusak. But whatever happened to him, we
should nevertheless recognize that interior danger as inherent in our craft. With its
isolation of many forms, its distance from family, its disruption of circadian rhythm,
and especially with its ever-present proximity to the lethal and convenient means
that is death by water, the perils of depression are for sailors menacing occupational
hazards. Remembering that our mental health is at least as important as our physical
health, we might finally offer our support to the stalwart and heartbroken crew of the
APL Philippines, to whom fell the terrible duty to resume the original course and
depart the search area still missing a man.