The 10th plaque of the Cenotaph of the Gloucester Fishermen's Memorial — a exhaustively researched and assembled narrative of the toll taken from this city by the sea — has been removed, as residents of and visitors to the nation's first fishing port are discovering in this week of the St. Peter's Fiesta.
But the purpose of the removal is to update it, says Gaspar "Gap" Lafata, who heads Gloucester's Cenotaph Committee.
When the plaque is returned to its place on a granite base, there will be five more names speaking in perpetuity to the precarious ways of the fishing life and the whims of the sea, and once the plaque is back, the cenotaph — a memorial to the dead whose remains are elsewhere — will cite 5,384 names of who went "down to the sea in ships."
The new names — John Orlando, Matteo Russo, Jaime Ortiz, Peter Prybot and Duane "Charlie" Rine — will be read with sadness, made more intense by different degrees of the knowledge of overlapping circles of locals.
Russo, 36, captain of the Patriot, and Orlando, 59, his father-in-law and first and only mate, were lost with their trawler on nearby Middle Bank in a catastrophic event in early January 2009.
The Coast Guard discounted a call from Russo's pregnant wife, who was also his business partner, about a fire alarm call to the service contractor, and failed to launch search-and-rescue efforts for nearly three hours. The Coast Guard admitted its shame in its review and before Congress.
Ortiz, a 43-year-old Honduran immigrant who could not swim nor speak much English but came to Gloucester to work on the stern of a lobster boat to earn money for his family in New York and back in Central America, slipped and fell into the water just outside the Dog Bar breakwater in October 2009.