Tanker engine parts - Third week of October, 2008

Stabbert says the scrap barge will leave with Ked parts. Their bill is higher than we expected, I don’t have shipping worked out yet. How the hell am I going to get these parts, and after so much work!

All the other things PortSide had planned for the autumn have been front burner lately, including very important networking to push the possibility of getting an operating space in Atlantic Basin.

Real estate has been a big issue since we completed the business plan in May 05, and the developer did a "fade away and radiate” and avoided all meetings where we could present the data in the business plan and discuss lease terms. Actually, we couldn’t really complete the business plan because neither he nor Fairway would come to the table, so we submitted it to the funders, New York City’s Department of Small Business Services calling it “’A Report on Business Planning Activities.” That real estate story fizzle was so perplexing.

When Fairway needed a rezoning to get a supermarket in an m-zone on the waterfront, they were asked “why do you need to be on the waterfront” and they gave the answer “because we will service the working waterfront” and they talked about tugboats coming in to shop. I had supplied the information that tugboats would flock to a waterside supermarket since it had become so hard to get provisions due to the decline of finger piers near neighborhoods. I learned that while doing my National Geographic project on tugboats in NYC. The PortSide business plan followed up on that knowledge and surveyed the local towing industry about how much they spend on boat grub a year ($7.MM) and whether they wanted to shop at Fairway (yes) and why. We concluded that $1.5MM of business wants to shop at Fairway. PortSide was going to position shopping tugboats as an attraction, much as they are in Fells Point, Baltimore, and build our maritime museum concepts around visiting real boats doing real things.

Over the ensuing 3 years, we write many real estate proposals. The Mary Whalen’s fan base grows, but few people seem to understand that it is a hub, a place, that PortSide is trying to be, not a ship project, and certainly not a conventional historic ship project (much as we now love the Mary Whalen).

So… once there were August rumblings that Atlantic Basin was being replanned and that the EDC might be interested in our putting our proposed maritime hub in there (which seems the perfect fulfillment of their own 2008 Maritime Support Services Inventory Study), PortSide has been busy networking about Atlantic Basin, creating program concepts, analyzing how much of what we proposed in 2005 could work in another space, thinking how to combine cultural programs and port operations in that space.

Now that there’s a Stabbert deadline, I shift my energies to finding an interim Seattle storage space so that PortSide can leave this whole engine thing alone for a while and focus on the New Yorker mantra “location location location.”

K-Sea agrees to store the parts in their Seattle yard. They are just across the ship canal from Stabbert.


I convey to Stabbert that their bill is tough for PortSide to pay right now, can we discuss an installment payment plan. I offer to get the parts out of their way and held by a third party (K-Sea) til we work this out?

They write back “up to my eyeballs in alligators right now with issues but you have my promise we will not toss the parts you need and will work out a satisfactory arrangement. “

Stabbert is really being great.

Tanker engine parts - First week of October, 2008

I send and email to a shipbuilding history website and ask for Ked history. I hear back from Tim Colton of Maritime Business Strategies, LLC in Delray Beach FL.

“According to the USCG, the Ked was formerly the Fletcher J and was built by Bushey in 1945, not 1943 or 1944. If so, that narrows it down a bit: it almost has to be either 583 or 585. Did you ask if there's a builder's plate on the ship?”

I thank him and suggest he amend his Bushey history to get Hornbeck included by changing his site description from “[Bushey] was the parent company of Red Star Towing and was located on Gowanus Creek, in the Red Hook section, at the foot of Court Street: the site is now occupied by the Hess storage terminal” to say “the site is now occupied by the Hess storage terminal and the yard of Hornbeck Towing which moves the Hess product.”

Always trying to raise awareness of the working waterfront!

He changes his website. We continue exchanging emails. The PortSide Whalen family grows.

I send the URL to Gerry Weinstein, this leads to more info on davits.

Carolina: A great site. Looks like Bushey did build tankers before the war so they may have had radial davits. I actually e-mailed him a year ago regarding a photo we found in a Minn. antique shop showing the preparations to side launch one of the water tanker versions. Gerry”

They’ve already been in touch. Small world. Big Whalen family.

Tanker engine parts - Fourth week of September, 2008

The wish list is expanding as we learn more about the Ked. My brother spots some davits. Are they the same as the Whalen’s.

9/26/08, I send out an email blast

“i only have 1 davit of the 4 here.the Ked has two. I'm about to send them this drawing to see if what is out there matches my davit here.

do you guys know if Bushey had a standard davit?the one here is continuous taper with a curve not right angle bend, and has a ball at the end thru which there is an eye bolt.answers requested as fast as you can as the Ked is lying around in pieces.”

Gerry Weinstein, Chairman of General Tools and Mr. Archive, provides the most documentation and detailed responses.

“Detail of YO davits (radial type, probably navy spec.) and Bushey quadrantal tilting type, commercial ones. Gerry”

What?! I think:

“what does "Bushey quadrantal tilting type, commercial" mean? I think this means it is a Bushey standard,... quadrantail I"m guessing means it is is square sided plate, not rounded stock, the tilt i can see ,but what does commercial refer to?

could you call me today so i can ask? I want to get the blog catching up with the data flowing in here.

also are the photo #s corresponding to the Bushey album? have you sent YO#3 and YO#4, or are these frame #s from same boat (looks like it), or just your numbering to me. this YO4 also looks like a ghost what with that leaden grey, no appearance of porthole glass (blank eyes), no sign of life aboard, and the foggy no horizon line in the background.

the Bushey photos break my heart, they look so like the Whalen, save for the YO-4’s rounded stern, and they are such elegant, but robust craft. It pained me to see the photos of the Ked sliced up. it's like seeing the Whalen's sister eviscerated.


“Just to recap. Francis S. Bushey taken just before the end. Definitely a Bushey build because of the hard chine aft. Prewar, post war? Don't know, but it should be in the list. That and the A. H. Dumont outboard (no hard chine) had the quadrantal type that worked off a geared sector and leaned out to launch the boat. Pretty fast, saved a few lives on the Titanic. YO's radial type, much older. Harder to work, slower to launch boats. Same as on Lilac. All the YO photos from the same Bushey album probably produced for the Navy. You'll see rest when things "quiet down" GW

Tanker engine parts - Third week of September, 2008

Information on Bushey tankers and Fairbanks Morse engines began pouring in.

Bobby Mowbray, a K-Sea tug engineer and one of the last engineers on the Whalen but not the guy in the engine room when the crank got damaged, was prompt on phone and email with his answers, but he was on a tug and couldn’t come look at things in the engine room with me.

Stabbert was now ans
wering and sending photos. My brother Antonio Salguero of Coastwise Marine Design made a site visit and was sending photos. The engine plaques were gone. They would have confirmed it the engine was the same model. Without them comparing photos from there to photos from the Whalen and vintage references became important.

Gerry Weinstein, the Chairman of General Tools, and a man obsessed with old steam engines, got very interested in helping save this diesel one. He has created photographic documentation of engines and industrial sites for years, working for the US Army Corps of Engineers and others, and has an extensive
collection The Archive of Industry. He sent photos from Bushey brochures that showed me what an intact FM 37E12 looked like.

The partnering vibe was kumbayah.

The prob was that I’d never even seen a head for the Whalen’s engine before. And we had no engineer on the team as we hadn’t been planning to fix the engine soon. My learning curve was

Folks were patient with email requests like this one
“I see a slight difference in the flange beneath the exhaust, some difference in piping external to the engine block ... but I really cant tell as I have never seen the heads on a 37E12 direct reversing Fairbanks Morse, which is what the Whalen has. Whalen is missing piston, heads, rods and fuel injectors. I'm wondering if the Ked's engine is a slightly newer model of the same engine... I'm wondering if an engineer can tell by looking at attached jpegs or if he knows these engines well enough to know that 37E12's varied slightly over the years... “

Here, take a stab yourself.

Mary Whalen


Bushey gift album for Navy sea trials of new YO’s.

I learned a lot about engines.

In one case, thanks to an email from Pam Hepburn of the tug Pegasus Preservation Project who wrote in response to this jpeg “These are the early/first generation diesels the most distinguishing aspect is that the cylinders are alone - as steam engines-and not part of a block- fantastic.”

Pam really knows her
engine room.

It takes a village to fix a vintage tanker engine - part 1

Here’s the sticky wicket about blogging.

Often you can’t write about things in real time because to do so could affect the course of events, in ways you can’t foresee, so sometimes you have to just sit on things. Voila, the case of the tanker engine parts and the Bushey tankers Ked and Mary Whalen. The story from September through February will now come out in installments. Yes, I kept all emails and good notes. The posts are mostly all written.

Tanker engine parts - The first week of September, 2008:

Thanks to a tip from Bernie Ente, I learned that another Bushey tanker was being scrapped oh so far away in Seattle, and I made a play for parts. Engine parts, davits, interior cabinetry and brass fittings. Several Whalen cabins were gutted when she was in Erie Basin being an office and one day, we’d like to restore bunks, hanging lockers n such. Right now we need those spaces for offices, but once we have a base ashore, we can get that stuff off the boat and restore more.

Anyway, first answer out of Stabbert Shipyard in Seattle was a lot of silence.

I looked at their website and saw that one line of their business was turning old workboats into luxury yachts. Was this what they would do with Ked, I wondered, and so wouldn’t want to give stuff away? Were they really scrapping the Ked? If so, it certainly would seem preposterous to a scrapper to get a call from across the continent, from a non-profit, and I suspect, from a woman, looking for parts to save an old tanker. No one saves tankers! Tugs maybe; yachts surely, but tankers don’t have Enthusiast Societies, yet.

What to do? Here my old skills as a journalist, a foreign correspondent of the pre-digital era were useful. I did most of my work overseas in a career that ran from opening of Berlin Wall to 9/11 in countries that often didn’t have decent phone systems (or had phones systems with the government listening in). The way you got information was social. You saved every name and number you ever got, you horded them, you kept them in handwritten notebooks; and these names and numbers were exchanged with select (friendly) journalists coming and going to the same countries. This is a segue to a little rant of mine: I’ve noticed that 20-somethings who come to work at PortSide are conversant with web and digital connections but less good at reaching people to solve a problem. Once they’ve googled or filled out the web contact form, they’re done; and when that isn’t working/doesn’t net the solution, it’s often hard to get them to get on the phone, to reach out and touch someone; and most to the point, they don’t seem good at recruiting a person to the cause to help solve the problem at hand. It makes me appreciate being middle-aged and having experienced the world before email, web, and customer service in India.

But back to the Ked parts... I began reaching out. When PortSide was creating its business plan, a Capt. Kris Lindberg out of Seattle had worked for us. He did a raft of things and headed all the market research on the charter and excursion boats in NYC and determined which would be interested in coming to our proposed Maritime Hub. He was getting a Masters in planning at the time and thinking desk job after years of running boats from Seattle to Alaska. After graduating from NYU in 2005, he returned to Seattle. I called.

Turns out Kris knew the Ked well. He had not got a desk job after all and was doing environmental ops for Global Diving & Salvage Inc., and had been on the Ked just months before. Global did the abatement work on the Ked, and had bid on the scrapping job and lost to Stabbert.

I called K-Sea in NY, knowing they had bought a Seattle tugboat company. Could their Seattle folks could see if the Ked was still afloat… Answer: yes.

I called the Washington State Dept of Natural Resources, Derelict Vessel Division to see if they could find a way to help. I had no idea what their contract to Stabbert allowed or mandated, but surely scrappers worked with eye on the clock and wanted no delays. Could they facilitate? Melissa Montgomery said “Yes, we’d love to.”

I got my brother Antonio Salguero of Coastwise Marine Design, on the phone. He’s worked a range of marine jobs near Seattle (fishing boats in Alaska, shipwright at Port Townsend’s shipwright’s co-op, freelance yacht designer and shipwright). Could he come down from Port Townsend to Seattle to visit the Ked and assess? Yes.

On the eastern front, I started calling folks to learn more about the Whalen’s engine, what had failed, what was fixable, what other Bushey tankers had for engines as a way to determine what this thing in the Ked might be, even what this Ked was originally called to learn more about her. I asked about alternative sources for parts because schlepping things from Seattle looked expensive on the transpo alone… and the logistics of cross-continent research were going to be challenging.

All that hadn’t been done earlier, because, honestly, the planning team did not see the engine as an immediate priority. The Whalen can deliver a lot of programming as a dead ship. We came to her as the cheap alternative to a spud barge, a means to a docking end, making her go was not the plan. Admittedly, our thinking was evolving since we learned some things during ship tours.

What we learned was that the engine room was the 2nd most popular place on the boat. Galley first, engine room second. The wheelhouse, to our surprise, was definitely third. We had considered yanking out the whole old engine (down the road) to give us more space, and then we listened to the public. As Tim Ventimiglia, our museum designer, put it “I thought the boat and engine room would really appeal to middle-aged men, but that is not what is happening.”

I remember the day the Whalen’s engine room cured a woman. I was leading a tour of 15. As we approached the engine room stairs, a woman said “’oh no.”

“What’s the matter,” I asked?

“I’m claustrophic.”

I said “here’s what we’ll do. I’ll hold the group back, you go down there, and if you feel uncomfortable, you can rocket right back up those stairs, and no one will be in your way.”

She went down the stairs. Silence.

“Are you all right?” I yelled.

Then came the answer “WOW.”

I told the group to stay on the fidley and went down. “You OK?”

“This is amazing.” And there she stayed, so excited by the engine that she wasn’t claustrophic and was able to have a crowd of 14 join her for a 20 minute stay down there.

So we learned over tours large and small that because the engine room captivated, it created a way to discuss mechanical and infrastructure topics you would think were too dry for the public: the dated peculiarities of a bell boat system and a direct-reversing engine and what that meant for ship staffing, shaft generators and how the ship created and stored its own power. Even the marine composting toilet system interested people. Not to mention the thrills the engine room brings to kids. For them, it is the best of cave, tree fort and space ship.

The looming, antique lump of the engine had a powerful voice; and so, when engine parts seemed available, I thought we should try for them. They might not get installed for years, but if we started looking for them years from now, they surely wouldn’t exist. With the price of scrap steel high, old boats were being scrapped pell mell; and old marine businesses all over the country were being pushed out by gentrification, so repair places with old parts were on the wane.

And so, as inconvenient as the timing of the Ked’s demise was for PortSide’s autumn plans, I went for it and redoubled my efforts on the phone.

Can the Ked help the Whalen?

My how small the world can get! Thanks to the indefatigable maritime reader-photographer-emailer Bernie Ente, I got a link on September 1 from a west coast newspaper saying there was a Bushey tanker headed for scrap. The Ked is a bit younger (if the story has her age right) and shorter than the Whalen but is unmistakenly a Bushey boat. (photo from Kitsap Sun)

September 2, I got in touch with the Seattle yard handling the scrap job Stabbert Maritime to discuss the possibility of engine parts or anything else we need. (They have an interesting line of work in converting workboats to yachts and produce some posh stuff.) And yesterday I had an encouraging call with Melissa Montgomery, the Washington State official in charge of their state Derelict Vessel Removal Program who gave the shipyard the contract. Her tone was one of “we’d love to help.”

During the PortSide business plan process, we had a young captain working p/t for us while he was getting his Master’s degree in planning. He’s back out in Seattle and I gave him a call. He knows the Ked; she’d been grounded in Bremerton for years. He’d been aboard earlier this year, and he encouraged me to try for a shot at Ked parts and photos of the interior. I’ve also spoken to some people on the water in Seattle who can see how the work progresses. Looks like there is still time to get at that engine!

It’s sad to see another Bushey boat go, but we’re hoping the Ked can help save the Whalen. The Ked has two davits on the boat deck (we are missing 3) and also has a Fairbanks Morse engine. We don’t know what type of engine yet; I’m hoping it’s a 37E12! Standing by!

9/11 on Pier 9B

It’s funny how life works sometimes. 7 years ago, two planes flew into the World Trade Center, and 7 years ago I snuck into the Red Hook containerport to make photos of the burning buildings. 7 years later, I’m living on a retired oil tanker on the same pier from which I made a widely-published photo of the disaster (and Homeland Security funds have since built a new port fence that makes such sneaking-in impossible.)

I’ve been interviewed and awarded aplenty for my photojournalism work at ground zero; but up until now, I have refrained from writing anything about 9/11. What I’d like to do here is acknowledge the work of others who I think deserve appreciation.

First, starting with the personal: Many thanks and much credit should go to Debby Romano. She’d only steered a boat one time before 9/11. That was a few days before 9/11, when I was shooting Robert Buchet bagpiping on the tug Amy Moran at dawn for a long term National Geographic project. I told Debby to hold a course right off the tug’s beam and just outside the barge wake. She did it, and that ain’t easy in a 26’ runabout. I told her she was a natural.

When 9/11 happened, I called her boss Greg O’Connell, baron of Red Hook, and asked if Debby could get off work to join me on my boat going to the World Trade Center. The Brooklyn Bridge was already closed, I had tried to bike over it after sneaking into the port. He said yes. Debby and I watched the 2nd tower go down from the water, and we got involved in getting one cop from shore to the Sandy Hook Pilots boat just off the Battery. As I left her in North Cove and handed her my bag of exposed film in case I didn’t get out, I told her “When you dock, remember that boats keep moving after you decelerate more than cars do. Take that into account and also the wind; and so long as you approach the dock very slowly, you can’t damage anything, and good luck.”

With only that for experience and instructions, she got the boat home. She reported that, on the way to Red Hook, she passed a slew of tugboats steaming out of the Kill Van Kill -- some 20 of them roaring towards ground zero. More on them later.

I shot for several hours at ground zero, and went to go as I felt bad vibes (building 7 collapsed shortly thereafter). I spotted the tug Nancy Moran on the seawall and her engineer Gina Sikes, who I knew. Gina has since passed away, but still I’d like to thank Gina and that crew for their assistance in getting me out and for being friendly faces on a dark day.

I reached L&I Color lab in the photo district and had the weird good luck to have Kathy Ryan, photo editor of the New York Times Magazine, walk in as soon as my developed slides hit the light table. I needed the bag of unexposed film, the bag I’d left with Debby, and I’d like to thank Richard Dennis and other Red Hook friends who tried to get to Manhattan in my powerboat. The Coast Guard turned them back, so they gave the film to Joe Martin, a Red Hook townie who has since been pushed out of here by gentrification; and he biked over one of the bridges - after attempting several - to deliver the film.

As to the bigger picture, I’d like to acknowledge the tremendous role of the marine industry in 9/11. Their contribution on that day, and for the weeks and months thereafter, has not been duly registered, analyzed nor appreciated.

When Debby and I approached the Battery, thousands of citizens were crammed along the seawall. As I left ground zero on the tug Nancy Moran only 2 or 3 hours later, there were none; all evacuated by boat in what was a spontaneous, civilian-initiated operation. It began before the Coast Guard asked for it. Tugs, ferries, excursion boats, pilot boats, police and park police boats, historic vessels, dinner boats -- all sectors of the marine industry on all sorts and sizes of craft showed up and got people moving.

They sorted themselves out by size, the shallow draft vessels took people to locations with shallow waters. Boat crew sprayed bedsheets with destination signs; they got out torches and cut the (stupidly) designed fences of Battery Park City that had no removal sections nor cleats or bollards for boats to tie to. Tugs and then barges brought fuel for fire trucks and generators, and fresh water. Boats brought food from the Jersey shore. I remember standing knee deep in rubble and water on West Street and Liberty within an hour of the second tower collapse, shortly after a firefighter shared their grim estimate “we’ve lost 340 men,” to see a college kid coming out of North Cove pushing a shopping cart with snack bars, Gatorade and water. Hats off to the boats that brought that all over.

As the “rescue” period with its hope of survivors eroded into the “recovery” period with its goal of finding body parts, the marine industry soldiered on removing the rubble. Floating cranes unloaded trucks and loaded barges. Tugs took the loaded barges away. The larger steel pieces left from Pier 11 on the East River. The smaller stuff, which was really none too small, left from Pier 25 in Tribeca.

Mike Mazzei, videographer and diver who day-jobbed as a dockbuilder, put up a series of banners at Pier 25 documenting the tonnage and number of barge loads they removed. He shot the job and made a video.

Still, most of the media drove past the pier to do stories from the pile, then the pit, from firehouses, from city hall, stories about steelworkers, medics, cops, shrinks, priests and even photographers. Much of that media continues to chime that the working waterfront is dead. (A special Broken Record Award goes to the New York Times for reiterating that old chestnut.) Is the working waterfront dead, or is the media just blind?

Other media ignored the significant maritime story even when they had it. National Geographic considered running my tugboat project, with it’s unpublished content about the 9/11 marine evacuation, on the first anniversary of the attacks. The Director of Photography decided not to “since we have two other water stories in the same issue.” So, rather than doing a water-themed issue, they put meerkats on the cover — I got many an angry call from tugboat captains on that one. They never published the tug work and held on to it so long it was un-publishable anywhere else. My apologies, fellas; but you can see why I left the media biz.

But back to ground zero: When the politicians got around to concocting a ceremony for the last piece of steel removed, they didn’t include a tug or barge in the choreography. They put a huge beam on a truck and slowly rolled it out of Manhattan. The Pier 25 rubble removal crew watched as the departure ceremony started north of them.

Why is this all important?

Everyone should get their due.

We should understand what really happened.

We should be prepared for the next one.

We should understand where we live (an archipelago) and build to suit.

There’s been a whole lot of waterfront revitalization going on, leading to a rash of newfangled piers without cleats, piers too weak to dock a tug and barge, piers designed for pedestrians-only, silly piers whose planners want them designated “water dependant.”

We shouldn’t be doing that.

Not only because of disaster preparedness, but because the seam between water and land should be a porous membrane with people and things coming and going across it. Not only would that make the most useful (or what 2008 plannerspeak calls “green and sustainable”) waterfront, it would also make the most interesting and fun one.

And with that, I leave you all to your prayers and memories and your own rituals of thanks and acknowledgment. 9/11 was a public episode, but many of us have private ways of handling it. Today, this happened to be mine.

More on the marine role in 9/11:

List of Boats involved in Manhattan evacuation on 9/11

Book “All Available Boats”

Interviews associated with South Street Seaport exhibit on the topic

Video Merchant Marine heroes of 9/11 by MARAD (US Maritime Administration)

Interviews with local tug crews on www.carolinasalguero.com see section “Maritime 9/11” under section WTC. Slow to load – it’s an old Flash site.