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Archive for the ‘shipyard’ Category

It’s been a couple of years since I was working on a conventional tug.  I’ve been in the ATB world up to my eyeballs for the last eight years and I look at these temporary duty assignments with a mixed view.  Although I love getting back to basics and exercising my skill sets, nothing grates on me worse than having my boat in the yard and me not being there to get the things I need done “my way”.

That said, I can’t worry about two boats at a time so the focus is presently on my current assignment, the tug Franklin Reinauer.  So named for one of our late founding fathers and built for the company in 1980 or so.  Not a large tug by today’s standards but still a little bulldog of a boat.  She’s equipped with a nice little tow winch and a decent amount of horsepower.  A five man crew and enough work to keep time flying by at a respectable rate.  With quarters a lot tighter than those on the Nicole, she’s kinda tiny really but comfortable in a cozy kind of way.  Really cozy once you get in the upper house, basically a box on a stick.

Not so long ago she was one of the coast boats.  Making runs anywhere and everywhere towing up to 70,000 bbl barges.

The view from the Franklin’s upper house of the RTC 28′s notch…

The work is now mostly assist work with an occasional barge delivery in either Newtown Creek, Jamaica Bay or Sewaren NJ.  We made a trip to each during my few days aboard with a surprise or two.

Surprise number one; It turns out is that Newtown Creek now has a community of sailboats moored along the creek’s crumbling bulkheads outside of the Pulaski Bridge, I can’t help but doubt they’re costing the boat owners anything in the way of dock fees.  It’s more than a bit amusing to me that it’s becoming a mecca for gypsy boat owners finding cheap wharfage for an expensive hobby.  I hate to see what might become of these opportunists when a windy day and breakaway scow have their way with their fiberglass hulls.  I can just imagine the splintering sound of hulls under the bow of a runaway 300 ton scrap scow.
Surprise number two; Who knew that scrap yards harbored statuary?  The picture of a few (recovered?) statues lining the wall of the reclamation center in Greenpoint.  Very artsy.  And finally, no real surprise to find that small vessels still insist on taking the same draw of the Jamaica Bay Subway Bridge as an inbound tow (with a fair tide).  Even if they’re law enforcement, some things never change.
 

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I expect to be back in the ATB world soon, until then I’m enjoying my little piece of regular tugboating immensely.  I especially liked nursing a light barge in push gear across Coney Island Channel this morning.  I had almost forgot what it was like “sweet-talking the tow” across the channel when a swell was running.  Good stuff.

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9/2/09

I’ve found some time to put together some photos after couple of long days.  I’ll add to this post as we go along and close it out once we’re operational.

Few things are more exhausting than a vessel’s 5 year shipyard period.  All the items that had to wait for the boat to be “out-of-service” are now set for repair. Both crews have been compiling a list for the last year of items that will need attention and items we’d call our “wishlist”.  The wish list may just as well be a letter to Santa for all the consideration it gets as we start our ordeal with cleaning the tug and barge for the yard.  The primary objective is to take care of all critical systems and address the wishlist last (as long it won’t delay anything and can fit in the budget)

Once the fuel is pumped out, the ballast adjusted and the tanks and bilges are cleaned, the dockmaster takes over and lifts her up on the drydock so we can finally take a peak under her skirts for the first time in 2 1/2 years.

She’s a sight to see, massive wheels (140″ in diameter), barn door rudders and a hull that proves she’s fit for sea.  The barge has been cradled in a mammoth drydock one half mile away and it’s nearly impossible to absorb the whole unit in one glance, even at that distance.

Our boat is now ready for the onslaught.  Contractors of every trade swarm by the dozen over her engines and piping, the wheels are clanged and coaxed off the shafts and sent for reconditioning.  A rudder has been removed and new bearings for all are in the works.  Pressure washers take the beard off the hull, super high pressure units are used to strip the foredeck of paint.

The engine room looks like it exploded with parts scattered in every corner of my engineer’s once pristine engine room.  Grease, grime, and trash is the order of the day.  Hoses, wires, chainfalls, buckets of every size fill every space in sight.  Open deck plates, tripping hazards, cranes swinging loads overhead.  It’s a safety officer’s nightmare.  It amazes me that anyone can keep track of it all.  Talk about a puzzle!

The lower level cabins/crew accomodations are uninhabitable for a while due to open fuel tanks scheduled for inspection.  The sanitation system is offline for the duration since we are unable to get a sewage line plumbed to the dock.  We get a temporary set-up with a “port-o-san”, not the best of all worlds, but it beats climbing down a 30′ ladder and taking a hike up to the shipyard’s facilities a quarter mile away.

The pilothouse is a disaster, all the electronics are put away and the masking for paint has taken over.  Handholds and boxes of bits and pieces are everywhere.  The new Clearview defroster screens are in, the painting is taking a toll on our knees.  I almost forgot how many lil’ nooks and crannies there are around the windows….

One of the coolest things that took place was the pulling of the “pins”.  The Intercon pins are the moneymakers and each one weighs in at 28,000 lbs +/-.  It was incredible how the techs from Intercon disassembled the units and coordinated the crew of the yard and themselves to pull these behemoths out of their sleeves all the while bobbing from wakes and surges caused by passing traffic.

The end isn’t in sight yet, but we continue to take small bites out of it every day.  It’ll get done, of that we’re certain, but it’s gonna hurt a little before it’s over.

Next up will be the pins, fitting the wheels, and re-hanging the rudder.  And that’s just the big stuff, as they say “the Devil is in the details”.  More pics later, I’m freakin’ tired!

9/3/09

The pins are in and the wheels are being fitted today.  Tanks are being buttoned up, painting continues and we’re seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

9/6/09
It’s been a busy couple of days.  The work is starting to wind down and cleanup has begun.  While this may be a holiday weekend for many, we are still at it trying to bring all the mess that’s developed under control.  The pilothouse is finally back together and looks great.  The new insulting material we’re trying is supposed to reduce the condensation we’re seeing in subfreezing temps on the exposed metal surfaces in the pilothouse around the windows.  We’re hopeful it will help.  It took 7 coats to buildup a decent thickness.  The new window films from Clearview have completed the forward window array so that all of the 9 forward facing windows are heated.  The films alone should reduce the amount of moisture we can expect this winter..
The A/B is busy scrubbing the main decks and stripping the wax buildup so a fresh shine can be applied.  All the internal surfaces will get “soogee’d”, scrubbed down clean so all the grease and grime from the workers can be erased.
Two rooms got a new installation of a soundproof deck underlayment and new carpet to replace the flooring that was basically destroyed when the forward fuel tanks were opened, cleaned, and inspected.
The new emergency hawser rack and setup will be completed once the shipyard returns to work on Tuesday.  A little more welding and rigging for that remains.
The rudder which had been sent out to have the palm resurfaced and new machine bolts cut  is expected soon.
My Ch/Eng is busy with cleanining his engine room and trying to bring order to what was a nightmare only a few days ago.  I don’t envy his job in any way.  The cleanup is making slow progress, but it’s getting done.
One of the really good things about this shipyard period has been at the end of the day after dinner.  Once everyone has been able to get a nice hot shower andsomething to eat , a few of the crew (myself included) have taken to cigars on the O1 deck as the sun goes down.  It’s a pleasant way to unwind and talk about anything and everything.

9/6/09

It’s been a busy couple of days.  The work is starting to wind down and cleanup has begun.  While this may be a holiday weekend for

many, we are still at it trying to bring all the mess that’s developed under control.  The pilothouse is finally back together and looks

great.  The new insulting material we’re trying is supposed to reduce the condensation we’re seeing in subfreezing temps on the exposed metal surfaces in the pilothouse around the windows.  We’re hopeful it will help.  It took 7 coats to buildup a decent thickness.  The new window films from Clearview have completed the forward window array so that all of the 9 forward facing windows are heated.  The films alone should reduce the amount of moisture we can expect this winter..

The A/B is busy scrubbing the main decks and stripping the wax buildup so a fresh shine can be applied.  All the internal surfaces will get “soogee’d”, scrubbed down clean so all the grease and grime from the workers can be erased.

Two rooms got a new installation of a soundproof deck underlayment and new carpet to replace the flooring that was basically destroyed when the forward fuel tanks were opened, cleaned, and inspected.

The new emergency hawser rack and setup will be completed once the shipyard returns to work on Tuesday.  A little more welding and rigging for that remains.

The rudder which had been sent out to have the palm resurfaced and new machine bolts cut  is expected soon.

My Ch/Eng is busy with cleaning his engine room and trying to bring order to what was a nightmare only a few days ago.  I don’t envy his job in any way.  The cleanup is making slow progress, but it’s getting done.

Ahhh, Romeo and Julietta, please don't tell the wife.

Ahhh, Romeo and Julietta, please don't tell the wife.

One of the really good things about this shipyard period has been at the end of the day after dinner.  Once everyone has been able to get a nice hot shower and something to eat , a few of the crew (myself included) have taken to cigars on the O1 deck as the sun goes down.  It’s a pleasant way to unwind and talk about anything and everything.  Soon the boat will be wet and we’ll be back at it.  It can’t come too soon….

9/9/09

It’s the last day for my crew in the yard for this hitch.  This last two weeks just flew by.  My relief will be taking her out and conducting the sea trials once the boat gets wet. The pins will be tested and tweaked, the engines will get tuned, the deck cleared and painted, and the boat will be back in service as she was before.   The charts and pubs are up to date, we’ll have the gyro spun up after we get off shore power and her engines will awaken from their month of rest.

As the 5 year shipyard period draws to an end we acknowledge all the help we’ve had from our shoreside staff and hope we haven’t stepped on each others toes too awful bad.  The crew and staff can rightly feel a sense of accomplishment, they worked their asses off.

Shipyard is a tough job for everyone, it’s a series of projects big and small, compromises, and innovation “on the fly” in some cases.  It’s getting dirtier than you ever thought you could get from the grinder dust , needle scalers,and grime.  You honestly believe you’ll scrub your last layer of skin off by the time it’s all over.

Some repair items will remain open, but most are resolved.  All the critical safety and mechanical issues have been put to rest and the cleanup will take priority once we are released from the yard.

Re-fuel, top the fresh water, grub up, and off we’ll go.

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