WARREN — The public can get a preview on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19, of a sculpture that has been six years in the making — an artwork that will honor the crew of the ill-fated cargo ship El Faro.

Jay Sawyer said the metal sculpture — El Faro Salute! — comes from deep inside him.

“It came right from my belly,” said Sawyer who is a graduate of the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine. “It really shook me.”

Five of the 33 crew members lost — when the El Faro sank off the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin on Oct. 1, 2015 — were Maine Maritime Academy graduates. Two were Rockland residents — 34-year-old second mate Danielle Randolph and 23-year-old third assistant engineer Dylan Meklin.

Sawyer was an engineer working on merchant marine vessels from 1985 to 1995. He said his intention all along when he enrolled at Maine Maritime was to go to sea, build up some income, and then come home and follow his passions. One of those passions he eventually found was creating sculptures.

He took a basic welding class and then did welding work while serving on Exxon ships. That skill came in handy with his sculptures. His first work of art exhibit was shown in 2007.

The 60-year-old Warren man’s most prominent work to date is “Riding the Rails” which is located above Sandy Beach in Rockland’s South End. He said the location overlooking Rockland Harbor next to a rail line was the perfect location for that sculpture.

He said Rockland is also the correct location for the El Faro Salute!

“Given Rockland’s maritime history, the fact that two of the crew were from Rockland, and that Rockland is the Arts Capital of Maine, this was the right place,” Sawyer said.

He said after the El Faro tragedy he came up with a big concept to honor the crew and has since distilled it so he can wrap his arms around the project. The El Faro Salute! consists of various types of  steel. The transom is three-quarter-inch Cor-Ten steel. This steel will show some rust but then develop a skin that will prevent further rusting. The two uniforms are made out of one-eighth-inch steel.

More than one ton of steel is being used on the sculpture.

The El Faro Salute! is scheduled for a formal dedication ceremony Saturday, Sept. 24, on Dragon Products property nearby where Riding the Rails is on display. The public can get a sneak peek at the progress made so far on the El Faro sculpture.

A special open house is scheduled for Maine Maritime Academy alumni and friends Saturday, June 18, with the general public open house at Sawyer’s Sunday, June 19, from noon to 4 p.m. His studio and property are located at 131 Camden Road (Route 90) in Warren.

MMA alumni have contributed financially to support the work in progress. He has raised $100,000 of the $135,000 budget for the El Faro Salute! He said the public can contribute to help with the maintenance of the sculpture. The Penobscot Maritime Museum in Searsport is the fiscal agent for the project.

“I think the community will be proud of it,” he said, noting maritime memorials will attract people from around the world.

The cargo ship departed from Jacksonville, Fla., on that 2015 voyage and many of the families are located near there.

Jay Sawyer at this studio. Courtesy of Jay Sawyer