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Archive for May 3rd, 2010

Circumnavigation 1

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The reason that I was in Manhattan on Saturday the 24th of April, rather than wandering about the dystopian hillocks of Western Queens (as usual), was that a friend was gathering a group of photographers and urban explorer types together on- of all things- a tourist boat. Coupons for a discount trip, and the offer of fraternal companionship, drew me to the west side of Manhattan to ride along for the three hour circumnavigation of the Shining City. The boat left from Pier 83, lately known as “the Circle Line” pier, on the Hudson River. That’s the John J. Harvey fireboat, incidentally- for more on the Harvey- click here, and here, and here.

from wikipedia

The Circle Line is the collective name given to two sightseeing ferry operations in Manhattan:

Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises at 42nd Street which circles Manhattan from its base at Pier 83 in Manhattan

Circle Line Downtown operates out of Pier 16, South Street Seaport. The company name is Circle Line Harbor Cruises, LLC. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Circle Line Statue of Liberty.

  • The two companies split in 1981 from the parent Circle Line company and now have different officers and directors.
  • Circumnavigation of Manhattan became possible in 1905 with the construction of the Harlem Ship Canal, the first regularly scheduled trip being the Tourist captained by John Roberts in 1908.
  • On June 15, 1945 Frank Barry, Joe Moran and other partners merged several sightseeing boats to form the Circle Line operating out of Battery Park.
  • In 1955 it began operating at its current Pier 83 location. In 1962 it bought the Hudson River Day Line.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

River traffic was at a minimum, and the relict gems that dot the coastlines were glittering in the morning sunlight. Pictured above is the Erie-Lackawanna ferry terminal in Hoboken, New Jersey.

check out this fascinating post at which details the reconstruction of this historic structure’s clock tower in recent years.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As the behemoth tourist ship entered into NY Harbor proper from the Hudson, along came the Marie J. Turecamo tugboat- a 2,250 HP twin screw tug operated by Moran Towing. It was originally built as the Traveller in 1968, by Tangier Marine Transport which operated out of the Main Iron Works facility in Houma, LA.


Moran is a leading provider of marine towing and transportation services, a 150-year-old corporation that was founded as a small towing company in New York Harbor and grew to preeminence in the industry. The cornerstone of our success has been a long-standing reputation for safe, efficient service, achieved through a combination of first-rate people and outstanding vessels and equipment.

Over the course of its history Moran has steadily expanded and diversified, and today offers a versatile range of services stemming from its core capabilities in ship docking, contract towing, LNG activities and marine transportation. Our tug fleet serves the most ports of any operator in the eastern United States, and services LNG terminals along the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts and the West Coast of Mexico. The Moran barge fleet serves the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, the Great Lakes, the inland waters of the U.S. eastern seaboard, and the Gulf of Mexico. We also provide worldwide marine transportation services, including operations in the Caribbean and periodic voyages to South America and overseas waters.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Playing at the serious business of being a tourist is no easy job. The Circle Line narration points out interesting features observed along its route, making frequent mention of “the sights they came to see”. An image of the Statue of Liberty is a popular and desired memory for visitors to the Shining City to acquire, and I couldn’t let it pass without a cursory shot. The events of September 11, 2001 received repeated mention in the script as well.

from wikipedia

The statue is made of a sheathing of pure copper, hung on a framework of steel (originally puddled iron) with the exception of the flame of the torch, which is coated in gold leaf (originally made of copper and later altered to hold glass panes). It stands atop a rectangular stonework pedestal with a foundation in the shape of an irregular eleven-pointed star. The statue is 151 ft (46 m) tall, but with the pedestal and foundation, it is 305 ft (93 m) tall.

Worldwide, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognizable icons of the United States.[11] For many years it was one of the first glimpses of the United States for millions of immigrants and visitors after ocean voyages from around the world.

The statue is the central part of Statue of Liberty National Monument, administered by the National Park Service. The National Monument also includes Ellis Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of 911, one of the newer Coast Guard patrol boats was busily speeding by. This is a “response boat small” I believe, and it was quick and seemed ready to become deadly at any moment.


Response Boat-Small (RB-S) was 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 option 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 August 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 October 2003, and there are currently 457 Defender-class boats in operation assigned to the Coast Guard’s Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST), Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT), Marine Safety Units (MSU), and Small Boat Stations throughout the Coast Guard.

Mission Capability:

With an overall length of 25 feet, two 225 horsepower outboard engines, unique turning radius, and gun mounts both forward and aft, the Defender-class boats are the ultimate waterborne assets for conducting high speed maneuvering tactics in a small deployable package. This is evidenced by the fact that several Defender-class boats are already in operation at other Homeland Security Department agencies, as well as foreign military services for homeland security missions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As the Circle Line crossed into the East River, nearing the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, however, a ship that’s familiar to long time readers of this Newtown pentacle appeared- the M/V Red Hook.


When the city invited a select few reporters aboard the Sludge Boat Red Hook, we figured it would reek, naturally enough. But, despite all that human waste and other organic cargo sloshing about, the boat smells just fine.

This is a nice, clean, next-generation sludge vessel: 350 feet long, cruising speed 10 knots. Inside the cabin, it’s all fancy gadgets, everywhere.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Red Hook is actually one of the newer Sludge Boats in the City’s fleet, built to modern specifications and environmental regulations.


The $30 million boat, named Red Hook, is the latest addition to the marine fleet.

It will cart tons of sludge every day to waste water treatment plants. The plant on Wards Island processes about 200 million gallons a day of waste water; the sludge is the solid part of that waste.

“They are removing more of the solids from the water, we’re returning cleaner water to the harbor, but producing more sludge, and that’s a good news thing. But it also requires us to increase our capacity,” said acting DEP Commissioner Steven Lawitts. “This one is higher capacity. It has a capacity for 150,000 cubic feet of sludge, so it’s about 50 percent larger than previous boats.”

The Red Hook was built over a period of three years by a manufacturing company in Texas.

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