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C-PORT Board of Directors and Management

The C-PORT Board of Directors is made up of C-PORT members who are experienced professionals from throughout the marine assistance industry. They each bring their own unique perspective to the Board to further the successes of the industry and its partners.

Working closely with the C-PORT Board of Directors is the Executive Staff. These professionals are tasked with the operation of the Association, addressing members' needs and assisting the Board of Directors with the continued growth and development of the Marine Assistance Industry.

Tina Cardone, Executive Director

Tina Cardone has decades of experience working within the Marine Assistance Industry. Beginning in the late 1980s, Tina worked closely with the Coast Guard learning about the new rules and regulations for the industry. She gained great insight into how an association supports its membership and principles through legislative actions, in meeting membership needs, and promoting the association’s ideals to the boating community. Her background gives her insight into how a marine business must juggle legislative requirements, employment needs and serving the boating community with profitability. Through this unique view, Tina is able to contribute to the continued growth and development of C-PORT and the Marine Assistance Industry it represents.

Tina has a B.A. in Political Science and enjoys the political system and has a fascination with the study of law. She enjoys writing and has written and collaborated on a number of published articles. Tina has cruised the Bahamas, Caribbean and made numerous crossings to Bermuda. Other voyages include cruising the Eastern U.S. from Florida to Maine, crossing to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and the French Islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

Executive Committee

Phil LeBlanc, Chairman
Safe/Sea/TowBoatU.S. Narragansett Bay
Wickford, RI

Growing up on Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, Phil has been a boater his entire life. He spent each summer cruising the waters around New England under both power and sail. In 1998, at the age of 18, he obtained his captain’s license and began working for Safe/Sea, TowBoatU.S. Narragansett Bay as a way to put himself through the University of Rhode Island. What began as a college job following his passion of being on the water has culminated in a career spanning two decades.

Phil is now co-owner of the business he began working for almost 20 years ago. He has served on various C-PORT committees over the years and is currently C-PORT’s representative on the NASBLA B.O.A.T. Program Advisory Council. He holds a 100-Ton Master for Near Coastal Waters with Commercial Assistance Towing and Radar Endorsements. As an ambassador of the commercial assistance industry, Phil looks forward to helping continue the growth of the industry through education and outreach.

John Donaldson, Vice Chairman
Sentinel Marine Services/Sea Tow Sebastian
Grant, FL

John is a native of Cape May, NJ with over 30 years experience on the water. He served in the US Navy immediately following his high school graduation. Donaldson went on to study Marine Biology and Marine Resources Management. His towing life began as a diver and on-call oil spill response captain in the Delaware Bay.  In 2006, after working in parasail and teaching, Donaldson joined Sea Tow Naples as director of operations.  In 2013, he and his wife, Amy, became partners in the Sebastian franchise.
John and Amy reside in Grant, Florida where they are active not only in their assistance towing business, but in giving back to their community. They support various causes through charitable contributions, including their annual sponsorship of the Sebastian Exchange Club’s Blue Water Open Charity Fishing Tournament, the proceeds of which benefit the prevention of child abuse. Outside of work, the couple enjoys the outdoors, being on the water and spending time with their two children.

John understands the challenges facing the marine assistance industry and wants to be "part of the solution".

Jon Gridley, Treasurer
Lake Tow Inc./Sea Tow Clarks Hill Lake
Clarks Hill, SC

Growing up in Wisconsin, Jon has always had a calling to the water. He grew up fishing and boating on the waters of Lake Michigan and Green Bay. In 1994 Gridley joined as a First Mate aboard a sport fishing charter boat out of the Port of Sheboygan and shortly thereafter, he knew he wanted to become a Captain. In 1996, at the age of 23, Jon received his 50 Ton Master of the Great Lakes license with Commercial Assistance Towing endorsement. He continued these duties until he relocated to the south in 2000.

In 2008, Gridley purchased all interests in Lake Tow Inc and teamed up with Howard Kaplan (Sea Tow Lake Norman/Wylie, Kerr/Gaston, Smith Mountain Lake) and formed Sea Tow Clarks Hill Lake. Currently, Jon is sole owner of Sea Tow Clarks Hill Lake and Sea Tow Lake Oconee. He is the 2011 recipient of the AFRAS (Association for Rescue at Sea) C-PORT Lifesaving Award. Jon still has a passion for being on the water, but now, assisting boaters makes it even more enjoyable.

Harold "Smitty" Smith, Secretary
Miller's Towing & Salvage/TowBoatU.S. Sandy Hook
Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Harold Smith, better known in the industry as Smitty, lives in Middletown, NJ with his wife Sissy of 32 years. They have 3 grown children, with their first grandchild expected in the spring. They are lucky enough to live on an 11 acre farm where they house their horses.

Smitty has been working on boats all of his adult life and has had his USCG credential for more than 30 years.  He holds a 200 ton masters license and a master of towing credential.  Smitty started right out of high school working on tug boats in NY Harbor.  After starting a family, the schedule was tough.  Smitty went to work for the Fast Ferry industry becoming a senior Captain, and stayed there for 10 years.  In 1998, he joined Millers Launch, the largest oil spill response company in NY Harbor as a supervisor. When they acquired TowBoatU.S. Sandy Hook, Smitty took the management lead running the day to day operations.

Smitty brings vast amounts of experience in the towing and salvage business to C-PORT.  He is a member of the American Salvage Association and has been involved with the incident command system for oil spills, as well as managing a marine assistance towing and salvage company in a busy port.  Smitty feels his knowledge and understanding of the challenges we all face will help him be a positive force on the board, helping the industry to keep regulations in check.

Board of Directors

Rob Butler
Big Bay Marine Services/TowBoatU.S. San Diego
San Diego, CA

Robert started as a Salvage Diver for Vessel Assist San Diego in 1988 while operating a charter boat company out of San Diego and Mexico. In 1990 Robert married his wife Brandi and soon after started Vessel Assist Tacoma in the Pacific Northwest. While in Washington, Robert starred operations in Everett and Seattle. In 1999 Robert sold Vessel Assist Tacoma/Seattle and purchased Vessel Assist San Diego.

Robert has navigated on every coastal waterways in the Continental US, Hawaii, Guam and Puerto Rico calibrating radio towers for the Rescue 21 Project. Robert is been married and has two daughters, Courtney and Hannah.  Robert has been an active member of C-PORT since 1995.

Jake Dunfee
Rescue Marine/TowBoatU.S. Port Clinton
Marblehead, OH

Jake Dunfee began his career in the towing and salvage industry in 1992, when he was hired by one of the C-PORT founders, Neil Shrock.  Neil hired Jake to be a deckhand and dispatcher at Boater's Emergency Service in Marblehead, OH. Growing up boating on Lake Erie, it was gratifying and exciting to have a job helping boaters in distress during high school and college summer breaks.  After graduating from college, Jake had the opportunity to purchase Boater's Emergency Service in 2001.  In 2005, he purchased two additional local towing firms creating Rescue Marine as a TowBoatUS towing company.

In the past twenty-six years, Jake has seen many exciting changes and many threats to our industry.  In Jake's words: "This industry has faced great challenges with potentially grave consequences. Thankfully C-PORT addressed these challenges and allowed for the birth and unimaginable growth of the towing and salvage industry.  It is important that C-PORT fulfills its mission to represent, promote, protect, and defend its member companies.  I would be honored to serve on the C-PORT Board of Directors representing the industry in which I take a great deal of pride."

Anthony Noury
Hawser LLC/Sea Tow Charleston
Charleston, SC

Anthony considers himself the luckiest man alive.  He married his college sweetheart in 2001 and started a family is blessed with two beautiful children. He is privileged to live and work in the most beautiful waterfront community in the US.

After earning a B.S. degree from Lander University he began a seventeen year corporate career via several Fortune 500 companies.  In 2005, he wanted to try his hand at “small business” as a career change and purchased his Sea Tow franchise.  As owner/operator of Sea Tow Charleston, he works with six talented and dedicated captains whom provide the commercial response to our customers in the “Lowcountry” of South Carolina.  In 2010, two Sea Tow Charleston captains received recognition as recipients of C-PORT’s Meritorious Service Award.  Our captains have also received commendation by receiving Sea Tow Services International’s “Above and Beyond” award in 2009 and 2010 for helping boaters in grave need.  He feels proud and privileged to be associated with such an outstanding group of some of the finest captains in the business.

Richard Paul

Marine Towing & Salvage of SWFL/TowBoatU.S. Cape Coral
Cape Coral, FL

Rich’s desire to work on the water is a dream come true. Growing up in Fl, and spending endless weekends on Little Gasperilla Island, he knew his love of the water would eventually lead to a career on the water. In 2005, Rich received his 50 ton Masters License with a Towing Endorsement. While attending the Captain school, he learned the local TowBoatUS company was for sale.   After a 25 year career, Rich retired from Publix Supermarkets and bought TowBoatUS Cape Coral, where he began a new career on the water.  For the last 12 years, Rich has been very dedicated and committed on working to change the perception of the marine towing and salvaging profession.  He said, "We are professional business owners, not a band of pirates." 

Dale Plummer
Baltimore Marine Recovery/TowBoatU.S. Baltimore
Pasadena, MD

Dale Plummer, a lifetime Chesapeake Bay boater, left Corporate America in 2007 to begin his professional marine assistance career. He is a USCG licensed Master Captain with a Commercial Assistance Towing endorsement and began towing for TowBoatU.S. Baltimore/Middle River/ Baltimore Marine Recovery in 2007. Dale’s 20 plus years of diving experience has been instrumental in the growth of salvage operations for BMR. His 20 years of business, marketing and organizational knowledge enabled Dale to purchase BMR/TowBoatUS Baltimore/Middle River in January of 2011.

Dale is President of Chesapeake Marine Towing and Assistance Association (CMTAA), a regional chapter of C-PORT, and an active member of the Marine Trades Association of Baltimore County. Dale believes that corporate responsibility and professionalism must extend to all trades. He is a leader in the marine community lending support to local law enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard and he proactively works to protect the valuable natural resources of the Chesapeake Bay.

John Ward
Aquanaut Towing & Salvage/Sea Tow Pensacola and Destin
Pensacola, FL

After graduation in 1994 at the age of 18, I joined the US Coast Guard. I was stationed onboard USCGC Point Wells in Montauk, NY, USCG Station Islamorada, USCGC Venturous in St. Petersburg, FL and I was the Executive Petty Officer at USCG Station Dauphin Island. In 2004, I left the Coast Guard and purchased Sea Tow Destin. This was exciting and challenging as I worked to increase the number of memberships as well as build a reliable reputation for the company. In 2007, I expanded my business and purchased Sea Tow Pensacola.  I worked to build this location as well and received several recognitions. I received two Outstanding Membership Growth Awards and an Outstanding Marketing of Box Programs Award my first year with this location. 

I have assisted Sea Tow Disaster Teams that responded to Hurricanes Ivan (2004), Dennis (2005) and Ike (2008).  In 2009, I was awarded the Sea Tow Franchise of the Year Award at the Sea Tow annual conference.  In 2010, I assisted in the clean up efforts surrounding the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.  In 2012, I was blessed with my first child, a healthy baby boy.  I plan to continue to operate these two Gulf Coast franchises with the hope of passing this passion for success and the love for the water on to my son.