The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn Navy Yard

inconceivable orbit

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wǒ jiào Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To start – that’s a ship, not a boat, since it can launch either of the two boats it carries. A ship can launch a boat, a boat can’t launch a ship, and how big the thing is doesn’t qualify it as either. Secondly, that’s the United States Coast Guard’s WMEC-909 Campbell. Campbell is a 1986 vintage “medium endurance cutter.” The white hull paint signifies that it’s part of the USCG’s ocean going fleet, and its mission includes law enforcement, search and rescue, enforcement of laws and treaties, fisheries law enforcement, alien and migrant interdiction, drug interdiction, and Homeland Security.

It was spotted at the Brooklyn Navy Yard where, to my eye at least, work on and upgrades to its avionics, radar, and other electronics was underway. That’s all the gear on top of the wheelhouse, btw.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The SSI Marvelous was also spotted at the Navy Yard. It’s a bit less glamorous than a military ship, of course, given that it’s a “bulk carrier” freighter. It was built in 2013, and is currently flagged by the Marshall Islands.

“Flagged” indicates the supposed port of call for a ship, but as you’d imagine, where you flag your boat has a lot to do with not paying taxes or having to oblige health and safety laws for your employees. Let’s just say that if Gilligan’s Island existed in the real world, Mr. Howell’s heirs would have an empty office building stuck on it today, one whose phones forward to other offices in LA or Beijing. The international shipping community is populated by fairly grotesque and ultra corrupt characters, but y’all keep on focusing in on Jeffrey Epstein and people drinking baby blood. Distractions abound, huh? Don’t notice the man behind the curtain, nothing to see here…

There’s a concrete company at the Navy Yard, and you often see large cargo vessels like Marvelous here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A “response boat small” was observed a little further south on the East River, this one being operated by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s “Encon” Police. I’ve written about the “response boats” quite a few times in the past. Basically, post 911, it was decided to use the “weapons platform” concept to create a basic maritime chassis which the various Police and Emergency Responder agencies could customize to their uses. Coast Guard has a version of this craft with an M60 machine gun bolted to the bow, FDNY has versions that spray water, the NYPD have theirs rigged for towing and ramming. There’s three versions of these – response boats small, medium, and large.

Back tomorrow with something different at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

Speaking of different… what are you doing this Saturday on August 7th? I’ll be conducting a WALKING TOUR OF LONG ISLAND CITY with my pal Geoff Cobb. Details and ticketing available here. Come with?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 5, 2021 at 1:00 pm

inconceivable tensions

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Thursday, Brü, Thursday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Priorities are a big deal for a humble narrator. First thing’s first, and there’s other less time sensitive stuff you leave on the back burner while dealing with exigent reality. If something suddenly bursts into flame, you drop everything and deal with that. The people in charge of our common enterprise – the Government, as it were – don’t seem to think like this. This isn’t about political party or philosophy, it should be mentioned. At the moment, there’s a fairly large bundle of “have to’s” which seem to have been overlooked, while the stuff that really isn’t urgent – for whatever reason – is being treated as number one with a bullet.

If you’re fighting to rezone a Manhattan neighborhood in this part of 2021, and acting like it’s a 4 alarm fire to get it done “right now,” you’ve mixed up your priorities. NYC’s existential crisis isn’t “big business” related, rather it’s small business. We need to marshal the forces of our society right now in the name of entrepreneurs and shop owners, and for small landlords who own residential buildings with less than eight units. The latter entities are the most commonly held form of small business citywide, and the ones who are really in trouble at the moment, but the Governmental types and their masters in the Real Estate Industrial Complex seem hell bent on demonizing and destroying them in favor of mega corporations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Establishing Municipality based Credit Unions and low fee Financial Institutions designed to serve and service the sort of people and businesses written off by commercial banks like Chase or Citigroup would be a great start for the so called “Progressives” and “Socialists.” So would creating a mechanism by which NYC and NYS could resell the same insurance plans offered to their own employees with a small markup margin. That margin assures the Unions that they still enjoy an edge and advantage over the private sector, and would provide the funding required to extend health and pension benefits to the destitute or needy. The business of New York City is business, but the people who run NYC don’t seem to have ever thought about owning or operating their own business. It certainly doesn’t occur to them that few of us started out rich. Policy these days favors Alexander the Great situations. It’s easy to be remembered as “great” when your Dad built the world’s greatest army and died when you were still a teenager. We need more Phillips, and fewer Alexanders, right now.

John Lindsay went out of his way to make the poorest New Yorkers dependent on the City in the 1960’s. Michael Bloomberg went out of his way to insinuate a social Darwinism aspect into that dependency in the early 2000’s. Bill De Blasio and his ilk are a nightmare combination of the two.

Why isn’t encouraging and laying the groundwork for good old fashioned American Entrepreneurship not a part of the equation when the redistributing of common treasure occurs via taxation? Ecosystems work best when they’re varied and broad. You need a top predator – a wolf or tiger like Chase – but you also need mice and shellfish and shoreline vegetation for the baby fishes to hide in. In a properly functioning ecosystem, food falls off of the trees and everybody gets fat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next – Imagine if we created a single semester class for High School Seniors that taught the stuff you actually have to know as an adult. The significance of April 15th, how to claim legitimate deductions on your 1040, and how to approach starting a generic business in New York City. Jury duty, how to vote, the basic rules which adults have to follow in pursuance of avoiding fines and or jail time. What to do and who to call if you do get into trouble with the cops. I’d even plan in a remote visit or two with the “Scared Straight” crew at the local Penitentiary. How do I get health insurance, and what’s involved in signing a lease. What’s a household budget, and how much of your income should you save for a rainy day? Basically… Life 101.

When I was in High School, back in the early 1980’s when a young Joe Piscopo taught us all how to laugh again, there were mandatory classes called “Home Economics” and “Shop,” and whereas “Civics” had already been combined with “History” as “Social Studies,” they still talked about all this stuff. Saying that, I’m a grown ass man and that list in the former paragraph intimidates. Imagine being a kid trying to figure out the playing field and its rules?

Speaking of fixing the world… what are you doing on August 7th? I’ll be conducting a WALKING TOUR OF LONG ISLAND CITY with my pal Geoff Cobb. Details and ticketing available here. Come with?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 29, 2021 at 11:00 am

crabbed penmanship

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Neato Keen, bro.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One found himself riding a southbound NYC Ferry, uncharacteristically early one recent morning (I’m not a morning person), and as mentioned last week – I can’t resist the shot above and make sure I click out a couple of exposures of it every time I see it. The shot is from Wallabout Bay, where you’ll notice the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It looks across a somewhat peninsular section of Manhattan called Corlears Hook. According to Riis and other 19th century contemporaries, Corlears Hook was the absolute bottom of the barrel when it came to poverty, disease, and the other vagaries of NYC tenement life. Oddly enough, it’s where Washington lived (on Cherry Street) in his early days as the first President, and a couple of generations later Boss Tweed lived in the same house that Washington did. There used to be a Whyos connected gang that operated out of Corlears Hook called the Sewer Rats who practiced river piracy in the 1850’s, which causally forced the creation of NYPD’s Harbor Unit. Later on, when the Williamsburg Bridge opened in 1899, the Delancey Street corridor between the East River and the Bowery saw a huge influx of Jews move in, and right up until the Great Depression maps were being printed with a legend labeling the area as “Jewtown” and or “The Ghetto.” Go figure.

To modernity, it’s known simply as the Lower East Side.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wallabout Creek and Bay used to be called “Hennegackonck” by the locals before the Europeans showed up and started renaming everything. French speaking Walloons, that’s who settled here, and they were supposedly the first of the foreign newcomers to settle on Long Island. I’ve always had a hard time believing that one, personally, but “officially” that’s the story.

Wallabout Creek was the official border between the City of Brooklyn and the Bosjwick colonies to the north, which were separated from each other by a boggy swamp called the Cripplebush and from the Newtown colonies in modern day Queens by Newtown Creek and its tributaries. By the end of the 19th century, Brooklyn had absorbed the Bosjwick – or Bushwick – municipalities of Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Bushwick and had expanded to its modern dimension. The Cripplebush was long filled in by this point.

The Wallabout Creek is just on the other side of that pier you see in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a concrete company which operates out of this pier in the Navy Yard, one which receives its working material by maritime delivery. You’ll often spy heavy cargo boats docked here while hundreds of tons of gravel and other aggregate materials are unloaded from them and onto the pier for processing.

Truth be told, I was fascinated by the distinct colors of the various rock piles, and the clearly delineated lines between them. I also find the cyclopean scale of the operation absolutely and totally interesting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The particular NYC Ferry line I was riding on was the Astoria one, heading for Lower Manhattan. They’ve recently added a Brooklyn Navy Yard stop to this line, which I’ve heard some grousing about online since it incurs an additional ten minutes onto the journey from Hallets Point in Queens to Pier 11 in Manhattan. Me? I’m just happy to now have the Navy Yard as part of my regular rounds.

It was always a pain in the neck to get in here, and has always been “catch as catch can.” During the First and Second World Wars, waving a camera around in Wallabout Bay while onboard a boat could have gotten you shot dead by the Marines guarding the place. Back then, the Williamsburg Bridge had wooden panels set up on the side facing the Navy Yard so that spies and saboteurs couldn’t observe military ships being built.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Although the Brooklyn Navy Yard doesn’t play the same role it used to doesn’t mean that you don’t get to see interesting vessels here. There are still operational dry docks, and the military still puts in here occasionally. The white hull vessel at the left edge of the shot above is the United States Navy’s “Pathfinder,” and the “Cape Ann” is a former privately held cargo ship (SS African Mercury, built 1962) which went to the MARAD Ready Reserve Force in 1980, and then was reassigned to be a part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet in 2002. It’s normally found on the James River in Virginia, so it must be in Brooklyn for a refitting or some other sort of service.

Maybe it needs its oil changed, or something.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just before entering into the Navy Yard, I spotted the MV Hunts Point sludge boat at the equivalent of Manhattan’s 23rd street, plying the East River.

Sludge Boat, baby, sludge boat.


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Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 26, 2019 at 1:00 pm

varying antiquity

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And so doth Monday once more rise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Prepping for last Saturday’s NYC Ferry tour found me riding around on a few of their boats last week, which is where I spotted the MV Hunts Point “Sludge Boat” crossing under the Williamsburg Bridge. Originally built as “East River Bridge #3” the bridge opened in 1899, a full ten years before East River Bridge #2 (Manhattan Bridge). It was built to replace the old Grand Street to Grand Street ferry operated by the company which Robert Fulton had founded. The Williamsburg Bridge was considered an eyesore when it opened, and the Municipal Art Society was founded as a response.

The Astoria line of the NYC Ferry, from which these shots were gathered, has recently added a new stop to its service, one which goes into the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wallabout Creek was the first recorded site of European settlement on the Long Island side of the East River, in these parts. The Lenape word for the Wallabout, I’m told, was “Hemegacknock.” In 1801, shortly after the American Revolution, the newly minted Federal Government desired a ship yard along the East River. At the time, the busiest boat building center on the planet was found on the East side of Manhattan, and real estate prices for a property large enough for what the Feds wanted to occupy forced them to look towards the east. They purchased Wallabout Creek and Bay, and created the Brooklyn Navy Yard there in 1801.

By the American Civil War in the 1860’s, the BNY was employing over 6,000 people at the Wallabout.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By World War 2, there were 10,000 employees and the Brooklyn Navy Yard hosted five miles of paved roads, 2 steel shipways to launch new vessels, six pontoon and cylindrical floats, and 4 dry docks. That ship you see above is sitting high and dry in one of the dry docks (it’s actually called a graving dock, but there you go).

Between 1937 and 1953, amongst several other large vessels; the BNY launched the Battleships Iowa, North Carolina, and Missouri. They also built the first angled deck aircraft carrier here, which was called the Antietam. After the Federal Government began contracting its ship building and servicing in NY Harbor, the Navy Yard fell on hard times. These days it’s experiencing a bit of a renaissance, and has become a corporate industrial park of sorts. The FDNY and NYC Ferry maintain bases here, and there’s also a movie studio, the country’s largest urban farm, and several warehouse operations working out of the Navy Yard. Additionally, there’s a new museum here called “Bldg 92” which preserves the history of the place, accessible from the Flushing Avenue or landward side.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

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

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