On September 11, 2001, New York City and the Pentagon were attacked. After the two towers fell, no one knew if there were going to be more attacks. Literally tens of thousands of people were trapped on the lower side of the Manhattan island with nowhere to go! There was real panic in the streets, and some people even jumped into the water, and tried swimming off the island.

All the subways, bridges, and roads were shut down. But there was one mode of transportation left that is often overlooked. By sea.

With only boats left to evacuate, the US Coast Guard, or Pilot Boat of New York City, realized how desperate the situation was and called all crafts–from the fanciest yachts to the most run down tug boats–for any help. With in minutes, hundreds of boats began to converge onto lower Manhattan.

“If it floated, and it could get there, it got there.”

“There were like a fleet of tugboats heading for Manhattan.”

“I worked on the water for 28 years. I’ve never seen that many boats come together that fast.”

Tom Hanks narrates the epic story. The Great Boat Lift of 9/11 became the world’s largest sea evacuation in history. It took less than nine hours.

BOATLIFT was executive produced by Stephen Flynn and Sean Burke and premiered on September 8th at the 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Summit: Remembrance/Renewal/Resilience in Washington.