Launch 5 Crew


 Active Crew

 Honorary Crew


Active Crew


Since inception


Greg Porteus
Owner, Pilot, Foundation President
USCG Aux (Coxswain, PWO), NY State Police (Ret)

Conceived of and funded the project. Endured four years of torture to realize the restoration. Continues to recruit volunteers like those below. He is a real estate developer specializing in residential housing and self storage facilities.and founded the Launch 5 Hudson River Environmental & Safety Foundation and is the President.

Greg is a retired State Trooper. His father was a member of the NYPD Harbor Unit in the 60's and 70's and piloted these boats. See the history of Launch 5 for more details on Greg's restoration project.

Sergeant Mike Murphy (NYPD)
NYPD Harbor Unit (ret), Diesel Werks

Without Sgt. Murphy, Launch 5 doesn't happen. It's that simple.

Former commanding officer of the NYPD Harbor Unit Launch Repair Shop, Mike served not only as an indispensable advisor on the restoration details, but was the chief mechanic who spent countless hours installing the power plant and mechanical systems of Launch 5. Mike now applies his extensive piloting experience aboard Launch 5. Mike is the owner of Diesel Werks and carries a USCG Captain's License.



Bill Hughes
USCG Aux, Writer/Reporter The Journal News

Bill is an extremely talented investigative reporter and has written several newspaper articles on Launch 5. His contact with the boat and crew spurred him to join Flotilla 67 and the crew of Launch 5. He is now teaming up with best selling author Brian McDonald (My Father's Gun) to write a book about Launch 5 and the NYPD Harbor Unit.

Janet Morra
USCG Aux (Crew), Freelance Graphic Designer

In addition to being a loyal crewmember, Janet has donated many hours on Launch 5 projects including painting and other items that help Launch 5 look good and work as well as it does.

James Picciano
USCG Aux (Coxswain, PWO), Straddles
tm Gymnastics

Jim has been aboard Launch 5 from it's first mission and all major missions since. He is also a charter member of an elite group of Personal Watercraft Operator certified Auxiliarists. He is pictured here in the aft cockpit of Launch 5 in the early morning hours of their harbor protection detail on the one year anniversary of the Sept 11 terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan. For more photos of that event, check out the Aux Missions within the Photo Gallery.

Jim and his wife own and operate the Straddles Gymnastics facility in Croton.

Wayne Pickhardt
USCG Aux (Crew)

Wayne was with the Launch 5 restoration from the beginning putting in many long hours in out in Brooklyn putting her together from scratch. He served on CVN 68 Nimitz Aircraft Carrier as a US Navy welder, and is a heavy equipment  operator for the Operating Engineers.

Wayne is pictured here in the completely bare wheelhouse (without a wheel yet).



Charlie Luceno
Deckhand, Attorney

Charlie joined the crew in October of 2004 and fit right in with his dedication and contributions. He is general counsel for the foundation.


Richie Detz


Honorary Crew


Hope Becker
Honorary Crew (Posthumous)

Hope Becker had been, among other things, a banker, a pilot, an editor, a librarian, a businesswoman, a teacher and, most recently, an admissions officer at the New York State Merchant Marine Academy at Fort Schuyler in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx. She also raced her International One Design sailboat in many championship races.  She did and incredible amount of research on Launch5 and Naval Architect Philip Rhodes who designed Launch 5. When Greg told Hope of his plans to redesign the Launch's pilot house, Hope straightened him right out, saying "Philip Rhodes designed it this way for a reason, don't you dare touch a thing, you are no Philip Rhodes". She turned out to be right , and so Launch5 maintained the classic lines she was originally designed with.
Hope succumbed to cancer in Oct 2002.

Jerry Porteus
Greg's Dad
NYPD Harbor Unit (ret.)

Jerry Porteus served in the NYPD Harbor Unit from the 50's to the 70's as a pilot aboard several of the various types of launches in service during that time. 

Once the restoration was underway, Jerry provided much needed moral support to his son Greg. Prior to commencement of the project, Jerry's input was key to Greg's decision to move forward with the restoration. When Greg asked his father if such an endeavor was a good idea, Jerry told him he was crazy to attempt it. That was all Greg needed to hear.
(Photo taken 2/66)

Phil Porteus Sr.
Greg's Cousin, Salvage

Phil was there on day zero when Launch 5 was raised from the depths of the Passaic River and has provided moral support to the project ever since. Most significantly, it was Phil who planted the all important seed of re-dedicating Launch 5 to Patrolman Walburger. Phil was a patrolman in the NYPD 41st Pct (Fort Apache) where he was Tom Power's partner and later became an FDNY Lieutenant. Phil is also a very accomplished diver and holds a USCG 200 ton Captain's License. 

Sergeant Howard Smith
Honorary Crew (Posthumous)
NYPD Harbor Unit (ret.)

Sgt. Smith served in the NYPD Harbor Unit with Greg's father during the 60's & 70's and with Sgt. Mike Murphy in the 80's. Aware of Howie's fondness and in-depth knowledge of these launches, Greg called him when considering the restoration project. He encouraged Greg and put him in touch with Sgt. Murphy who was critical to the success of the restoration. Howard never got to ride on the restored launch but his son Bill is an active crew member. Sgt. Smith is pictured here aboard a Launch with Mayor Lindsay in the 1960s. Read the 1968 NY Times article of the rescue that earned him his permanent assignment in Harbor. Another article from that day also shows the drama of the rescue.

Will Stroncer

Will is has been doing the welding on Launch 5 since 2004 and is a true craftsman - furniture making with steel. Will has a long history of welding experience dating back to when he was 12 years old. He started with bikes, then cars. After a stint getting a degree, he moved on to several aviation jobs. At one point, he was doing bridgework for local 417. He presently specialized in avionics welding (airplane panels).

Lynn Valenti
Crew, Electrician
USCG Aux (Crew), CBS News, Echo Bay Marine Services

Lynn Valenti has been involved in the Launch 5 restoration project since the hull was being welded on in Rhode Island. Lynn has also donated countless hours to putting her in shape. Lynn helped to install a provisional wiring system to get the vessel through the first season and then worked through the dead of winter with her partner and co-founder of Echo Bay Marine Services, Jerry Mack to permanently wire Launch 5. 


Jerry "Mack" Mitkowski
Electrical Engineering
Echo Bay Marine Services, Jerry Mack Band

Jerry has donated much time and talent to the design, engineering and installation of Launch 5's electrical systems while at the same time, getting a new business off the ground (he and Lynn Valenti are co-founding Echo Bay Marine Services). Much of this work was done in the dead of winter. Even though most of his work will be hidden, his perfectionism is obvious to those who watched him work. More technical details and insights into the design can be found on the Electrical Technical Details section of this site.

Bert Berat


Gregory "Buddy" Porteus
Greg's Son, Pilot

Here's a picture of Greg's son catching a heck of a fish near the Tappan Zee Bridge. Buddy is quite accomplished at piloting Launch 5 as well as the RIB and jet ski. He is also good at wake boarding and is practically a snowboard instructor now. Hence the nickname "Budman the Boardman".


Brendan Porteus
Greg's Nephew, Pilot, Navigator

Brendan is not only a devoted fan of the Launch, at 5 years old he is quite an accomplished pilot.  His unbelievable sense of direction and observation make the GPS and Radar unnecessary when he's at the helm. He's also a black diamond skier and at the top of his class academically.  (More on Brendan)


Lieutenant Carol Grace-Walker
Honorary Crew
NYPD Harbor Unit (ret.)

Lt. Walker was the first female officer in the NYPD Harbor Unit when she entered as Sgt in 1985. She also served as the Unit's Training Officer and was the Commanding officer of Harbor George. Living now in Fla, she visited Launch 5 on a trip to NY in September 2003. She is also a contributor to the Bent Wheel site.


Capt. Jim Hughes & George Martin
Sponsor, Navigation Systems

Their almost immediate interest in Launch 5 and long distance travel to NYC to take a ride on her has earned them status of honorary crew. Of course, the training and support they provided are indispensable to her navigation systems. This picture was taken in early Jan 2003 when Jim and George traveled to New York for a ride and hands on radar/chartplotter training aboard Launch 5. Jim is Raymarine's Global Manager of Government/Military Sales and George is their senior support specialist.

Christopher Picciano

Jim's son Christopher is seen here onboard Launch 5 playing taps during the Ted Kamp burial at sea. Chris enjoys body surfing and diving the waves at Pt. Pleasant NJ. as well as skiing the black diamond slopes in winter. Chris plays Hockey, Football and is a great baseball player, ironically wearing the number 5 his whole baseball career.

Sandy Weiser
USCG Aux (Crew, FC), Israeli Defense Forces (ret.)

Sandy Weiser has crewed on a number of missions on Launch 5. He is a private pilot and Coast Guard Auxiliary air observer. Sandy served in the Israeli Defense Forces and was in a paratrooper unit during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Sandy is also an accomplished film producer.




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