The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for May 25th, 2011

nucleonic horrors

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst happily ensconced amongst the wonders of two separate boat tours of NY Harbor on Tuesday, Our Lady of the Pentacle texted me with the news of great tumult nearby Newtown Pentacle HQ in my beloved Astoria. Breathless (she is a writer and can convey great levels of subtext, even within a 180 character message), Our Lady described the presence of vast numbers of NYPD specialist squads- Hazmat, Tactical, and Aviation were emphasized- at work on 28th Avenue near 45 street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Upon returning home, she described message board chatter spinning wild rumors, and we instituted a Newtown Pentacle style inquiry into the matter. Basically, we googled it and found this:

Here’s the scoop, at least according to WABC TV news:

ASTORIA, Queens (WABC) — A hazardous material teams investigated a possible radiation scare at a house in Queens.

A box with a radiation symbol was found inside an apartment on 45th Street in Astoria Tuesday.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 25, 2011 at 4:44 pm

growing ferocity

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Witness the most technologically advanced fire fighting vessel on earth, the FDNY’s newest, known to commoner and king alike as the “Three Forty Three”. An enigmatic and photogenic craft, it’s still shaking out it’s bugs in the harbor of New York, and is regularly observed by a humble narrator. This ship (which is a pregnant point which will be discussed in a paragraph below) and it’s capabilities as reported exist on the edge of what would have been called science fiction 10 years ago, and exhibits the kind of cutting edge technology which the modern FDNY’s mission calls for.

Click here to witness the initial launch of the craft at the Marine 1 homepage.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The question of whether a vessel is considered a boat or a ship is a bit contentious. Technical descriptions by maritime experts always use the mantra that a ship can carry and launch a boat, which defines what a “ship” is and what a “boat” isn’t. My buddy John Doswell of the Working Harbor Committee however, asks “have you ever heard of a fireship?”, and given his insider status regarding the retired John J. Harvey Fireboat and general maritime expertise one must lend certain shrift to his assertion.

Although, to me, the 343 is a $27 million vessel which can launch another craft as part of it’s onboard arsenal and design, so I have some difficulty referring to it as a boat.

from wikipedia

140-foot, 500-ton, $27 million dollar boat will be the country’s largest fireboat with a maximum speed of 18 knots. The Three Forty Three will provide the FDNY with the latest technology available for Marine vessels, including the capability of pumping 50,000 gallons of water per minute; nearly 30,000 gallons more than its predecessor. The need for this increased pumping capacity was graphically displayed as FDNY’s existing fireboats supplied the only water available for many days after the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. However, the technological advances of these new boats do not end there. The boat’s original design by Robert Allan Ltd. of Vancouver, B.C. will catapult FDNY’s Marine Division into the 21st century and beyond.

Because of the very real threat of additional terrorist attacks after 9/11, the boats will also be capable of protecting firefighters from Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear agents (CBRN). While performing in any of these hostile environments, the crew will be protected in a pressurized area that will also have its air supply filtered by special charcoal and HEPA filters. Assistance on the design of the CBRN system was provided by engineers from the U.S. military’s Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense and Naval Sea Systems Command. United States Navy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A sister vessel, the Firefighter 2, follows the same design principals as 343 although I haven’t managed to get any shots of it yet. Both will allow fire commanders to place as many as 50,000 gallons of water a minute in a gps guided arc onto a conflagration in Manhattan or on the harbor. Veiled references to parabolic calculations of the reach of this torrent have suggested to your humble narrator that it can be expected to reach further inland than any Fireboat in memory. Additionally, a forward ballast tank allows these ships to match the deck level of other vessels, allowing egress to the Staten Island Ferry amongst other civilian watercraft during emergencies.


  • Length, overall = 140′-0″ (excluding fenders)
  • Length, waterline = 130’–0″
  • Beam, moulded = 36’–0″
  • Depth, moulded = 16’–0″ (midship, deck edge)
  • Draft (maximum) = 9’–0″
  • Air draft design loaded waterline to highest point = 39’–0″ (maximum)
  • Main Engines = MTU 4×2000 HP- total = 8,000 HP
  • Propellers and Reduction Gears = Hundested 4 X Variable Pitch Propellers
  • Fuel oil = 6,850 US gallons (trial condition), = 9,350 US gallons (maximum capacity)
  • Fresh water capacity = 1,000 US gallons
  • Foam concentrate = 3,600 US gallons (total)
  • Sewage holding tank = 100 US gallons
  • Oily water = 120 US gallons
  • Sludge = 60 US gallons
  • Decon wastewater tank = 100 US gallons
  • Calm water trial speed – 20 mph at fully loaded condition operating at 100% vessel power rating (8,000 hp) and 15% sea margin.
  • Design seastate – 6′ significant wave height
  • Pumping capacity – 20,000 gpm on two engines as fire-fighting ship and 50,000 gpm on four engines as pumping station
  • Monitor throw – 700′ from midships
  • Operating crew – seven (7)
  • Fire-fighters – 27 in transit

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 25, 2011 at 11:56 am

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