The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Kirby’ Category

intact copy

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A short aside on the Arthur Kill, and a look at the Goethals Bridge project.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the last few days, I’ve been describing a day trip to South East Brooklyn, which we’ll return to later on, but for today’s post I want to show you what’s going on at the veritable edge of NYC on the western end of… Staten Island… at the Arthur Kill waterway. That’s the Goethals Bridge construction project you’re looking at, which is another one of the three mega projects involving bridges going on in NYC at the moment.

I was actually “at work” when these shots were captured, conducting a corporate boat excursion for a group that wanted to “see something different” than what you normally get on a harbor cruise. They were all eating lunch on another deck as we passed by the Goethals so I grabbed my camera and got busy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m nowhere near as familiar with Goethals as I am with the Kosciuszcko Bridge over my beloved Newtown Creek,  of course, but I can tell you that the span overflying the water is 672 feet long. With its approaches, which connect Elizabeth, New Jersey (and the NJ Turnpike) to… Staten Island… the structure is actually some 7,109 feet long. It’s 62 feet wide, 135 feet over the Arthur Kill, and carries about 80,000 vehicles a day.

Goethals opened in June of 1928, and along with the nearby Outerbridge Crossing, was the inaugural project for a newly created organization known to modernity as the Port Authority of New and New Jersey.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like several of the depression era bridges in NYC, Goethals has been deemed as being insufficient for the amount of traffic it carries, and it has developed some structural issues over the last century. Port Authority is building a replacement bridge, which will be a cable stay type span. It’s going to be wider, have modern traffic lanes, and incorporate both bicycle and pedestrian access into its design. It’s also meant to be a “smart bridge” which will utilize active sensor technologies to monitor traffic and structural integrity.

The PANYNJ has also left room in their designs for future modifications to the span like adding a rapid transit line. The blue bridge you see just north east of the Goethals is a railroad lift bridge which connects New Jersey’s CSX rail lines to the New York Container Terminal port facility on the… Staten Island… side. It’s called the “Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Railroad Bridge,” for the curious.

The part of… Staten Island… where all this is happening is called “Howland Hook.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Elizabeth, New Jersey side, where the Goethals connects to New Jersey’s “Chemical Coast.” It’s called that for the enormous presence of the petroleum industry in Elizabeth. This area was formerly the property of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey.

SOCONJ retained the corporate branding of the Standard Oil trust after the Sherman anti trust act was invoked by President Teddy Roosevelt back in 1911. That branding was “S.O.,” which over the course of the 20th century first became “ESSO” and then later became “EXXON.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The new Goethals Bridge is meant to be ready for use in 2018, at which point the PANYNJ will begin the demolition project to get rid of the original. The 1928 steel truss cantilever bridge was designed by a fellow named John Alexander Low Waddell, who also designed the nearby Outerbridge Crossing. As a note, Outerbridge Crossing is not called that due to it being the furthest out bridge, as colloquially believed. It’s named for a a guy named Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge, and I’m friends with his grandson Tom.

The Goethals Bridge(s) is named for General George Washington Goethals, superviser of construction for the Panama Canal, and first consulting engineer of the Port Authority of New and New Jersey.

The PANYNJ has a neat website set up for the project which includes live construction webcams, check it out here.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, July 23, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking tour,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, July 26, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. –
Glittering Realms Walking tour,
with NYC H2O. Click here for more details.

Wednesday, July 27, 1st trip – 4:50 p.m. 2nd trip – 6:50 p.m. –
2 Newtown Creek Boat Tours,
with Open House NY. Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 30, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
DUPBO Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

Sunday, August 21, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Poison Cauldron Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

quieter bazaars

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mer de Beaufort, or the Beaufort Sea, is a body of water found north of Alaska and Canada which is frozen over most of the year. Beneath it are significant reserves of natural gas and petroleum, which are exploited by and fought over by both Canadian and United States interests. Due to its severe weather and ice bound condition, little to no commercial fishing happens, and it is home to a large colony of Beluga Whales and other cetacean megafauna. Most of the folks who live there are aboriginal- ethnic Inuvialuit Inuits and Native Americans.

It’s also a tugboat.


Built in 1971, by Main Iron Works of Houma, Louisiana (hull #258) as the Corsair for Interstate Oil Transportation of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

At the time Interstate Oil Transportation operated two fleets. Their Northeast Fleet or “Green Fleet” operated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And their Southern Fleet or “White fleet” which operated out of Tampa, Florida.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, the Kirby Corporation bought a large outfit operating in NY Harbor called K-Sea. Beaufort Sea was a K-Sea tug, now it’s one of the hundreds owned and operated by the Texas based Kirby. The acquisition, apparently, was driven by a desire to strengthen their coastal towing capabilities in the field of refined petroleum and other barge shipped volatile liquids. An extensive corporate history, which reads like something out of an Ayn Rand book, can be perused here.


The New York Division operates tank barges ranging in capacity from 1,800 barrels to 81,000 barrels, and tugboats from 400 to 3,400 horsepower. This division services a wide variety of customers in both the refined and residual petroleum trades. Many of the barges in the New York fleet are engaged in the delivery of bunker fuel to ships. The NY Division vessels also transport gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, ethanol and other refined products for local and regional customers. In the residual fuel sector, power generating customers rely on New York division vessels for floating storage and transportation of heavy fuel oil to local power plants.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The actual Beaufort Sea- as in the section of the Arctic Ocean which is found between Point Barrow, Prince Peters Island, Banks Island, and the northern coast of Alaska and Canada’s Northwest Territories- seems like a fascinating place whose native peoples live a kind of life one can scarcely imagine as your humble narrator lives in a place called Queens. Hearty, a maritime Sunday shout out goes to both the native people of some far away coast and to the crew of the Beaufort Sea Tug.


Kirby Corp. is buying K-Sea Transportation Partners in a deal that expands the giant tank-barge operator’s business into the coastwise petroleum transport trade.

The Houston company’s latest and largest acquisition this year is valued at $600 million — $335 million for K-Sea’s equity and $265 million in assumed debt — and is expected to close by July.

The two companies share oil company and refinery customers, so the transaction announced Sunday combines complementary rather than competing businesses. Kirby operates 825 inland tank barges and 222 towboats, as well as four offshore dry-cargo barges and four tugs. K-Sea has 58 coastal tank barges and 63 tugs that operate along the U.S. coasts as well as Alaska and Hawaii.

Also- Upcoming Newtown Creek tours and events:

for more information on the October 27th Newtown Creek Boat Tour, click here

for more information on the November 9th Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show, click here

for an expanded description of the November 11th Newtown Creek tour, please click here

terrific fatigue

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Bayonne Bridge, mentioned a couple of times this week, spanning the busy Kill Van Kull. The last “regular” Working Harbor Committee excursion of the year was recently enacted, and we encountered sometimes heavy weather and an overcast sky which laid down a pall of preternatural darkness upon the harbor. The air itself was thick with fog and mist, and many were the times which I needed to clear my lens of condensates.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Denizens of the harbor used to such visual occlusion, the working vessels and tugs kept to their normal routines. Hushed intonations have been offered to your humble narrator in the past suggesting that a suite of electronics are commonly found onboard these machines. These esoteric devices neutralize the need for direct line of sight, allowing the operator to remotely sense the environment around them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shadowed shoreline observed in these shots is the so called “Chemical Coast” of New Jersey. The name was earned in an earlier century, when Bayonne was famed for its mastery of colorant and dye manufacture, before the oil industry arrived with the Rockefellers.

20th Annual Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just starting the “develop” process on the shots gathered at today’s Working Harbor Committee event, the running of the 20th annual Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition. The winner of the race is pictured above and below. That’s Kirby Marine’s Lincoln Sea.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It will be a couple of days before the entire set of photos is ready, but I figured that it made sense to rush a couple out for today. Happy Labor Day.

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