The Newtown Pentacle

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minute glimpses

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One last stop at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, this time with FDNY.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the years, there have been plenty of shots offered at this – your Newtown Pentacle – of the Marine 1 unit (and their boats) here at the Navy Yard, but all of those photos have been shot from the deck of a boat. For today’s post, here’s what you can see from the landward side.

from marine1fdny.com

Marine 1 was the first Marine Company formed in the City of New York. We have moved several times over the years (find out more on our history page). We are on call and respond to 560 miles of waterfront surrounding the City of New York. These waterways are among the busiest in the world, used for both shipping and enjoyment. Along with the other two fireboats and a total of four small rapid response boats, we protect the people of New York as well as those visitors who are just passing through.

Marine 1 is manned by a crew of seven; an officer, a pilot, two engineers, and two firefighters.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Like all boat yards, the winter is a great time to see what their “rolling stock” looks like, as a significant number of their boats are up on blocks awaiting the attention and repairs of ship wrights and mechanics. The large steel structure at the right of the shot is a boat crane, used for lifting vessels in and out of the water. Notice the fact that it’s in Fire Department red, and you’ll know who owns the thing.

from wikipedia

On the eve of World War II, the yard contained more than five miles (8 km) of paved streets, four drydocks ranging in length from 326 to 700 feet (99 to 213 meters), two steel shipways, and six pontoons and cylindrical floats for salvage work, barracks for marines, a power plant, a large radio station, and a railroad spur, as well as the expected foundries, machine shops, and warehouses. In 1937 the battleship North Carolina was laid down. In 1938, the yard employed about ten thousand men, of whom one-third were Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers. The battleship Iowa was completed in 1942 followed by the Missouri which became the site of the Surrender of Japan 2 September 1945. On 12 January 1953, test operations began on Antietam, which emerged in December 1952 from the yard as America’s first angled-deck aircraft carrier.

The US Navy took possession of PT 109 on 10 July 1942, and the boat was delivered to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for fitting.

This boat was sunk in the Pacific in August 1943 and became famous years later when its young commander, Lt. John F. Kennedy, entered politics.

At its peak, during World War II, the yard employed 70,000 people, 24 hours a day.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There was more than one SAFE boat on display at the pier, and these are vessels that I am just fascinated by. Every one of the “services” (Coast Guard, NYPD, even Park Police) has a version of this boat. It adheres to the modern procurement system followed by Federal authorities which describes individual vehicles as all purpose “weapons platforms” that can modified or customized, on a task specific basis, for a particular agency or entity. The Coast Guard has an M60 machine gun mount on theirs, NYPD has a towing system, the FDNY a water monitor (a fire hose).

from uscg.mil

Developed in a direct response to the need for additional Homeland Security assets in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Defender Class boats were procured under an emergency acquisition authority. With a contract for up to 700 standard response boats, the Defender Class acquisition is one of the largest boat buys of its type in the world. The 100 boat Defender A Class (RB-HS) fleet began arriving at units in MAY 2002 and continued through AUG 2003. After several configuration changes, most notably a longer cabin and shock mitigating rear seats, the Defender B Class (RB-S) boats were born. This fleet was first delivered to the field in OCT 2003, and there are currently 357 RB-S boats in operation.

The 457 Defender Class boats currently in operation are assigned to the Coast Guards Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST), Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT), Marine Safety Units (MSU), and Small Boat Stations throughout the Coast Guard. With an overall length of 25 feet, two 225 horsepower outboard engines, unique turning radius, and gun mounts boat forward and aft, the Defender Class boats are the ultimate waterborne assets for conducting fast and high speed maneuvering tactics in a small deployable package. This is evidenced in the fact that several Defender Class boats are already in operation by other Homeland Security Department agencies as well as foreign military services for their homeland security missions.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies are offered for the late posting today, for it seems that the heavy snowfall has affected the Time Warner Cable infrastructure which allows them to deliver Internet access to Newtown Pentacle HQ. The signal has been fading in and out for the last twelve hours or so, which I guess is kind of understandable given conditions here in the frozen zone.

Tomorrow, we go to the edge of the known world, see you then.

from wikipedia

The Yard has three piers and a total of 10 berths ranging from 350 to 890 feet (270 m) long, with ten-foot deck height and 25 to 40 feet (7 to 12 meters) of depth alongside. The drydocks are now operated by GMD Shipyard Corp. A federal project maintains a channel depth of 35 feet (10 m) from Throggs Neck to the yard, about two miles (3 km) from the western entrance, and thence 40 feet (12 m) of depth to the deep water in the Upper Bay. Currents in the East River can be strong, and congestion heavy. Access to the piers requires passage under the Manhattan Bridge (a suspension span with a clearance of 134 feet (41 m) and the Brooklyn Bridge (a suspension span with a clearance of 127 feet (39 m).

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 22, 2014 at 12:16 pm

breathing body

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Before leaving Manhattan to transit back to the blessed soils of ancient Astoria, while walking down West 59th street (or Central Park South, as the well off would prefer) the other night, one was was suddenly confronted with a corruption of the ordinary scene when the FDNY showed up in no small numbers.

From what I could surmise, one of the many hotels along the edge of Central Park was in the midst of an emergency which demanded their presence.

from wikipedia

Central Park South is the portion of 59th Street that forms the southern border of Central Park in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. It runs from Columbus Circle at Eighth Avenue on the west to Grand Army Plaza at Fifth Avenue on the east. Entry into Central Park is provided at Scholars Gate at Fifth Avenue, Artists Gate at Sixth, Artisans Gate at Seventh, and Merchants Gate at Eighth Avenue.

Central Park South contains four famous upscale hotels: the Plaza Hotel, the Ritz-Carlton (Central Park), which is the flagship of the Ritz-Carlton chain, the Park Lane, and JW Marriott Essex House. Central Park South is one of the most cosmopolitan streets in the world, and is located steps away from Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue shopping, the Time Warner Center, and Carnegie Hall. Some of the most expensive apartments in the United States are found here.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

No concern whatsoever possessed me for the actual emergency, of course. Normal human empathy is an under developed organ in my emotional quiver, and the fate of Manhattan’s upper class visitors is well beyond any threshold at which my meager talents and abilities would be measurably effective. Like one of the anonymous ghouls that populate popular cinematic fiction, flesh eating and mindless, I was attracted by the tumult of flashing lights and sirens and stumbled forward.

from wikipedia

The flesh-hungry undead have been a fixture of world mythology dating at least since The Epic of Gilgamesh, in which the goddess Ishtar promises:

I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld, I will smash the door posts, and leave the doors flat down, and will let the dead go up to eat the living! And the dead will outnumber the living!

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The whole event was very exciting, with strangely attired people carrying esoteric equipment about. A great sense of urgency, along with an omnipresent flow of vehicular traffic which snaked along the street negotiating the narrows formed by the gargantuan service trucks employed by fire fighting personnel. Multiple vehicles all were flashing their lights, and I counted at least one ladder and two other units as well as a couple of Ambulances. That’s a lot of light on a fairly dark street.

The German tourists were positively agog.

from wikipedia

Most of the engines in FDNY’s fleet are Seagrave Commander II’s and Seagrave Marauder II’s and include 500 gallon water tanks and either 1000 or 2000 gallon per minute pumps. The 2000gpm pumps are primarily located in the high-rise districts and are considered high pressure pumpers. With the loss of apparatus which occurred as a result of the September 11 attacks, FDNY began to use engines made by other companies including Ferrara and E-One. The FDNY is making the move from a fixed cab to a “Split-Tilt” cab, so the Seagrave Marauder II Pumper will fill the FDNY’s new order for 69 new pumpers.

Truck companies are generally equipped with Seagrave aerials. Ladder length varies and often depends on the geographic area to which the unit is assigned. Those in the older sections of the city often use tiller trucks to allow for greater maneuverability. Before Seagrave was the predominant builder, Mack CF’s built with Baker tower ladders were popular. Most FDNY aerials are built with 75’, 95′ or 100′ ladders. Tiller ladders, rear mount ladders and mid-mount tower ladders are the types of trucks used. In 2010, a new contract was issued for 10–100′ rear-mount ladder trucks to Ferrara Fire Apparatus, using a chassis and stainless steel cab custom-designed to FDNY specifications. Delivery of the first of these new trucks is anticipated in the 1st quarter of 2011.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Then the cops showed up.

I’ve always obeyed a singular rule in the Shining City of Manhattan, which is to depart and quit any location currently occupied once the cops show up. Following this dictum has kept your humble narrator from experiencing several unpleasant moments over the years, and kept my relations with the Police at an absolute minimum.

Accordingly, one spun upon his well worn heels and headed east toward the subway, which would carry me away from the Shining City towards the rolling hills of raven haired Astoria via its deeply buried tunnels.

from wikipedia

The FDNY, the largest municipal fire department in the United States, and the second largest in the world after the Tokyo Fire Department, has approximately 11,080 uniformed officers and firefighters and over 3,300 uniformed EMTs and paramedics. It faces extraordinarily varied firefighting challenges in many ways unique to New York. In addition to responding to building types that range from wood-frame single family homes to high-rise structures, there are many secluded bridges and tunnels, as well as large parks and wooded areas that can give rise to major brush fires. New York is also home to one of the largest subway systems in the world, consisting of hundreds of miles of tunnel with electrified track. The multifaceted challenges they face add yet another level of firefighting complexity and have led to the FDNY’s motto, New York’s Bravest.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 3, 2013 at 12:15 am

last reserves

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s all so depressing, but at least I’m having a better time of it than one of the neighbors. He found himself carted off by the FDNY to the hospital the other night for reasons unknown to one such as myself.

A short post today, meant to spotlight what was an extremely difficult exposure and photographic capture to pull off, and all from the relative safety of my porch. It has been a VERY long time since I noodled a photo as much as this one. Worth it?

My neighbor seems to have pulled through, as I’ve seen him wandering around the neighborhood and wildly gesticulating at unrelated strangers since.

Also:

Remember that event in the fall which got cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy?

The “Up the Creek” Magic Lantern Show presented by the Obscura Society NYC is back on at Observatory.

Click here or the image below for more information and tickets.

lantern_bucket

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 6, 2013 at 12:15 am

unseen fingers

with 2 comments

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

We only have nineteen days left until the end of the world on December 21 when the Mayan Calendar’s 13th b’ak’tun ends, and if you’ve got apocalypse problems, the FDNY Fireboat Three Forty Three is the sort of tool you will need to make it through the storm. I’ve talked a bit about this ship in the past, in the posts “growing ferocity” and “betwixt the horns“.

In another posting describing another model of Fireboat- “The Bravest”, a lecture conducted by an FDNY Harbor Unit commander- Chief James Dalton of the Marine 6 unit- which I had attended was mentioned.

Information passed on in this weeks Maritime Sunday posting is gleaned from the copious hand written notes I scribbled down during that lecture. Any errors will be due to my own confabulation of transmitted fact.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Three Forty Three is 140 feet long, and built for speed. Its flared bow allows it to cut through waves, and has a relationship to the engineering of the past, present, and future models of the Staten Island Ferry- height wise. The Marine Unit works with and utilizes land based fire companies to combat fires, and the boat is designed to accommodate and transport as many as thirty lubbers. The bulkhead is designed to flood and drain itself, which allows the boat to adjust its vertical height.

As seen in the shot above, however, it’s the monitors which amaze.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Monitor is what you call the high pressure water hose nozzle on a fireboat, and Three Forty Three has six. 5,200 gallons per minute, the main one of the fore is capable of 17,500 gpm alone. The monitors at the corners of the boat also serve as a self protection system, and operate as foggers to defeat radiant heat. In addition to water, they can also access and deploy two 1,600 tanks of fire retardant foam. There are also four manifolds which allow conventional fire hoses to be attached to the pumps, and connections are found for FDNY standard three inch and NJ five and twelve inch equipment.

Everything described is remote controlled from the hermetic wheel house.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Below deck is an interagency municipal command center connected to an esoteric series of sensors and electronic systems. Situational awareness is the purpose of a lot of what happens on the lower deck. There is also the engine room, which outputs an inconceivable 8,000 HP to either the pumps or the four sixty inch variable pitch propellers which provide motive actuation. There is also a crane with a man basket and a monitor, and a 17 foot launch for rescues. Additionally, there are capstans which can be used for towing or anchoring at various locations onboard.

A hearty, and awe stricken, Maritime Sunday shout out is sent to the crew of the Three Forty Three, who will surely ride out the Mayan Apocalypse and probably end up saving the world.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 2, 2012 at 12:15 am

fantastic notions

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

One observes a lot of things during the long scuttles around the loquacious Newtown Creek for which your humble narrator has developed a certain reputation. More often than not, it’s some relict architecture or a keystone to some long forgotten industrial saga. Sometimes, it’s just an opportunity to watch the machinery of the great human hive at work- other times, it’s just some bitch.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Not too long ago, on Greenpoint Avenue in Brooklyn, at the house of the estimable engine 238- it was this enigmatic canid which drew my attention. An old girl, one wasn’t sure if she was the mascot or resident dog of the house- an FDNY tradition. Let’s face it, anyplace which doesn’t have a resident dog isn’t really worth visiting, and firefighters spend an awful lot of time at work. Didn’t have time to stop and inquire, and this girl was too busy enjoying a late summer afternoon to answer questions put to her by some wandering mendicant.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Can’t tell you if she was rescued from a blaze, or just wandered into the place- unfortunately. Dogs don’t need context, after all, as they mainly worry about “the now” and don’t think about “before” or “then”. Normally, a Saturday posting would concern itself with a “Project Firebox” subject, but today a shout is sent out to “Project Firedog” and this beautiful bitch in Greenpoint.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 29, 2012 at 10:40 am

rythmical promise

with one comment

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In April of 2011, your humble narrator attended a lecture conducted by an FDNY Harbor Unit commander- Chief James Dalton of the Marine 6 unit. The Chief described several of the fascinating boats his unit was in the process of rolling out for duty in the Harbor of New York, one of which is the Fireboat pictured above- The Bravest.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Part of the Marine 6 unit, which is housed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, The Bravest is one of the ships responsible for protecting an enormous area which encompasses an aggregate coastline of several hundred miles. This coast- which includes petroleum depots, several airports, and cargo terminals as well as residential and recreational docks- wraps around “terrorist target number one” and is the responsibility of only four FDNY chiefs and just over one hundred and twenty firefighters.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Like many of the modern “service boats”, Bravest is based around a Coast Guard model- the “Response Boat Medium” (which has been discussed in earlier postings at this, your Newtown Pentacle). Sixty five feet long, the vessel is incredibly fast (45 knots), and is powered by a jet drive which supplies three 1,000 HP engines with motive force. The jet drive scheme enhances crew safety, and allows for shallow draft operation.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Bravest’s two main monitors (water cannons) can pump an astounding six thousand gallons per minute. the Fireboat also carries a “miraculous” substance known as “purple K”. A foam extinguisher designed for fighting petrochemical fires, “purple K” and other exotic chemicals are kept onboard in case of an emergency at the Kill Van Kull or Newtown Creek. On the subject of the Creek, “The Bravest” is the likely first responder should an emergency occur involving one of the many oil industry installations found along it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Bravest also carries a full suite of modern communications equipment, including “blue force tracking”, satellite uplinks, and classified radiological detection sensors. Onboard, one will also find a first aid area which comes very close to being considered a mobile field hospital. Larger than needed alternators supply excess voltage to power all of this equipment.

———————————————————————————————

Upcoming Walking Tour- The Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Meetup at the corner of Kingsland and Norman Avenues in Greenpoint at 11 on Saturday, August 25th.

We will be exploring the petroleum and waste transfer districts of the Newtown Creek watershed in North Brooklyn. Heavily industrialized, the area we will be walking through is the heart of the Greenpoint Oil Spill and home to scores of waste transfer stations and other heavy industries. We will be heading for the thrice damned Kosciuszko Bridge, which is scheduled for a demolition and replacement project which will be starting in 2013. Photographers, in particular, will find this an interesting walk through a little known and quite obscure section of New York City.

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic, and experiencing a virtual urban desert as we move through the concrete devastations of North Brooklyn. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed toe shoes are highly recommended- as are a hat or parasol to shield you from the sun.

Bathroom opportunities will be found only at the start of the walk, which will be around three hours long and cover approximately three miles of ground. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your cars in the vicinity of McGolrick Park in Greenpoint.

Click here for tickets, and as always- a limited number of walk ups will be welcomed- but for safety reasons we need to limit the group to a manageable size. Contact me at this email if you desire further details.

existing make

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Normally, with this being Saturday and all, you’d find a photo of a Firebox in some godforsaken locale displayed prominently and spoken about in glowing terms.

Since it’s August, and that means vacation lazy time, let’s take this week off from “Project Firebox” and instead visit with the FDNY Marine 1 at Wallabout Bay.

The unit housed therein have several historic fireboats in their inventory. That’s the Governor Alfred E. Smith fireboat pictured above, for instance.

from marine1fdny.com

Marine 1 was the first Marine Company formed in the City of New York. We have moved several times over the years (find out more on our history page). We are on call and respond to 560 miles of waterfront surrounding the City of New York. These waterways are among the busiest in the world, used for both shipping and enjoyment. Along with the other two fireboats and a total of four small rapid response boats, we protect the people of New York as well as those visitors who are just passing through.

Marine 1 is manned by a crew of seven; an officer, a pilot, two engineers, and two firefighters.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Those are the Firefighter and John D. McKean fireboats, both longtime veterans of the harbor which have passed out of useful duty. Firefighter 2 is the sister ship of the futuristic Three Forty Three, and Firefighter 1 is already retired.

Just a short visit to the Wallabout today, go outside and play some ball or something, don’t waste the entire summer sitting inside surfing the net.

from wikipedia

Fire Fighter, also known as Firefighter, is a fireboat serving the New York City Fire Department. She was an active fireboat serving as Marine Company 9 until being retired in 2010. She was the most powerful diesel-electric fireboat when built in 1938. She has fought more than 50 fires, including upon the SS Normandie in 1942.

_______________________________________________________________

August 5th, 2012- Newtown Creek Alliance Walking Tour- The Insalubrious Valley- Tomorrow

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman will be leading a walk through the industrial heartlands of New York City, exploring the insalubrious valley of the Newtown Creek.

The currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens, and the place where the Industrial Revolution actually happened, provides a dramatic and picturesque setting for this exploration. We’ll be visiting two movable bridges, the still standing remains of an early 19th century highway, and a forgotten tributary of the larger waterway. As we walk along the Newtown Creek and explore the “wrong side of the tracks” – you’ll hear tales of the early chemical industry, “Dead Animal and Night Soil Wharfs”, colonial era heretics and witches and the coming of the railroad. The tour concludes at the famed Clinton Diner in Maspeth- where scenes from the Martin Scorcese movie “Goodfellas” were shot.

Lunch at Clinton Diner is included with the ticket.

Details/special instructions.

Meetup at the corner of Grand Street and Morgan Avenue in Brooklyn at 11 a.m. on August 5, 2012. The L train serves a station at Bushwick Avenue and Grand Street, and the Q54 and Q59 bus lines stop nearby as well. Check MTA.info as ongoing weekend construction often causes delays and interruptions. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your vehicle in the vicinity of the Clinton Diner in Maspeth, Queens or near the start of the walk at Grand St. and Morgan Avenue (you can pick up the bus to Brooklyn nearby the Clinton Diner).

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic as we move through a virtual urban desert. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed-toe shoes are highly recommended.

Clinton Diner Menu:

  • Cheese burger deluxe
  • Grilled chicken over garden salad
  • Turkey BLT triple decker sandwich with fries
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce or butter
  • Greek salad medium
  • Greek Salad wrap with French fries
  • Can of soda or 16oz bottle of Poland Spring

for August 5th tickets, click here for the Newtown Creek Alliance ticketing page

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