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From the Archives | November 17, 1991

Seaport says goodbye to men lost at sea

Swordfish were unloaded from the 'Andrea Gail' in September 1991, just weeks before it disappeared.
Swordfish were unloaded from the 'Andrea Gail' in September 1991, just weeks before it disappeared.TOM HERDE/Globe staff

This story is from the Boston Globe archives. It was originally published on Sunday, November 17, 1991.

GLOUCESTER— This historic seaport, which has lost as many as 10,000 of its fishermen at sea over the centuries, bade a tearful farewell to three more at a crowded funeral yesterday.

More than 1,000 people packed St. Ann’s Church for a Mass in the memory of four of the fishermen -- three of them from Gloucester -- presumed to have died when the fishing vessel Andrea Gail was lost off the coast of Canada during last month’s northeaster.

“The sea was their domain. They knew it well,” said Rev. Richard Casey, of Gloucester natives Frank W. (Billy) Tyne, 37, David P. Sullivan, 29, and Robert Shatford, 30, who were among six aboard the ill-fated fishing vessel.

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Father Casey urged those in attendance to mourn not only the three, but the “other brave people who gave their lives for Gloucester and its fishing industry.”

Anthony Verga, director of the city’s fisheries commission, said about 10,000 residents have been lost at sea since the city’s founding in 1623. The names of 4,000 who have died since the mid-1800s are inscribed in a memorial in City Hall, including nine who died in two accidents in 1978, the last time Gloucester fishermen were lost at sea.

Verga said yesterday’s ceremony brought tears to the eyes of many in attendance not only because of the loss of the three young fishermen, but from the memory of “an uncle, cousin, brother or father lost at sea.”

“A lot of them coming here have been touched by the same tragedy,” said City Councilor John (Gus) Foote, a retired fisherman whose father died when his boat was lost in 1960.

The Andrea Gail, a 70-foot vessel, disappeared after encountering 30-foot seas and 50-to-80-knot winds off Nova Scotia Oct. 28 while returning from a swordfishing trip to the Grand Banks off Newfoundland.

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The Canadian and US Coast Guards searched unsuccessfully for the vessel and its six crew members for more than a week before abandoning the effort Nov. 8.

In addition to the three Gloucester natives, those presumed dead are Dale Murphy, 30, and Michael Moran, 36, of Bradenton Beach, Fla. and Alfred Pierre of New York City. Moran was included in yesterday’s Mass because his family is

from Wilmington.

Relatives and friends yesterday recalled the young Gloucester fishermen and their love of the sea.

“He loved the water; he loved to go fishing,” said Peter Maltese, a lifelong friend who had recently roomed with Sullivan.

Maltese said Sullivan will also be remembered by friends for his engaging personality. “Dave was a happy-go-lucky guy.. . . He had a great knack of making friends with people. We all referred to him as ‘the mayor.’ “

Sullivan, after spending his early years in Gloucester, moved to Kentucky with his family. He worked in construction as well as fishing in Gloucester.

Tyne was recalled as an able fisherman, who had been in the business about 10 years, five years as a skipper on boats in Florida and Gloucester, including the Andrea Gail.

“He was very outgoing, a very nice guy,” said Mark Schlichte, whose wife, Tracey, is the sister of Tyne’s former wife, Jodi. “He was a hard worker. Everyone liked him -- he’d give you the shirt off his back.”

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Schlichte said Tyne, a Gloucester High School graduate who had worked as a substance abuse counselor before fishing, was devoted to his two children, Billy Joe, 12 and Erica, 10.

Shatford was recalled as someone who loved sports and was a familiar sight on the waterfront.

“I just think of him down on the docks with his sweatshirt on,” said his sister, Susan Berra.

“He kept mostly to himself. He was a good guy,” said his father-in-law, Ed Wright, for whom Shatford worked unloading fish before he went into fishing. Shatford had two sons, Bobby, 9, and Jonathan, 7.

Family members said the three fishermen were aware of the risks they faced on the seas, but did not often discuss them.

“You know the risks,” said Schlichte, a former fisherman. “Everyone knows it. You don’t believe it’s going to happen to you, but you know it’s there.”

Angela Sanfilippo, director of the Gloucester Fisherman’s Program, which aids fishermen and their families, said the pain of losing someone at sea is one that will always stay with loved ones.

“This is so tragic because when nothing is found, you will wait for the rest of your life. You always go down to the shore and look and wonder,” she said.