The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Cadell Dry Dock

thunderous remoteness

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File this one under “You don’t see that every day.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Guy V. Molinari, part of the Staten Island Ferry fleet, in a shot from 2012. The boat is the first of its class and design, and the photo above is a fairly typical rendering of what you’d normally get to see of the boat, sans the atmospherics and dusky lighting, which was pure serendipity for a humble narrator.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The other day, while onboard a slow boat cruising along the Kill Van Kull, I was looking at the Caddell Dry Dock facility and what do I see floating there but the Guy V. Molinari up on jacks. For you longtime readers, I’ve mentioned Caddell before, but if you need a refresher course – click here for a 2012 post about the company and their floating dry dock business. Just for giggles, here’s another one from 2014 when the USS Slater was there.

from wikipedia

The MV Guy V. Molinari, MV Senator John J. Marchi, and MV Spirit of America, known as the “Molinari class”, carry a maximum of 4,427 passengers and up to 30 vehicles. Each boat is 310 feet (94 m) long by 70 feet (21 m) wide and has a draft of 13 feet 10 inches (4.22 m), tonnage of 2,794 gross tons, service speed of 16 knots (30 km/h), and engines of 9,000 horsepower (6.7 MW). 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For those of you who didn’t bother to click through, a floating dry dock is a maritime structure capable of submersing part of its superstructure, allowing vessels to inch into it. The floating dry dock then rises back up, picking up the vessel with it. This allows free floating structures to be lifted out of the water so that workers can perform maintenance tasks on the hull and other normally inaccessible areas.

Cool, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has seen a lot of things over the years on NY Harbor: the nose of a submarine being barged under the Williamsburg Bridge, an experimental military attack boat at Hells Gate, a space shuttle dangling from a crane, the list goes on and on. I’ve never seen a Staten Island Ferry up on blocks before.

As a note, scenery like the stuff you’re looking at today will be on display the evening of May 17th when I’m on the microphone for Working Harbor Committee’s Newark Bay tour, ticketing link at bottom of post. Come with?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As always, Kill Van Kull was putting on the maritime industrial tour even as the boat I was on headed back out towards its eventual port of call on the Hudson River side of Manhattan Island. The whole Bayonne Bridge reconstruction project seems to be winding up, and there were crews demolishing the old concrete piers which supported the original roadway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking forward to spending a bit more time on the water, a humble narrator is.

I never got to take that vacation I was moaning about all winter, probably the best I can do for the summer is to try and not be on solid land as much as I possibly can be.

Upcoming Tours and Events

May 12th   RESCHEDULED for June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?

Tickets and more details

May 17th – Port Newark Boat Tour – with Working Harbor Committee.

For an exciting adventure, go behind the scenes of the bustling Port of NY & NJ on our Hidden Harbor Tour® of Port Newark! Get an insider’s view of the 3rd largest port in the nation, where container ships dock and unload their goods from around the world. See how the working harbor really works and learn about what all those ships and tugs do. See giant container terminals, oil docks, dry dock repair, and more! Tickets and more details here.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 11, 2018 at 11:00 am

amusing incidents

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Witnessed on the Kill Van Kull.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in April, your Newtown Pentacle displayed shots of and discussed the estimable USS Slater’s arrival at the Caddell Dry Dock on the Staten Island side of the Kill Van Kull. Your humble narrator was onboard the recent Working Harbor Newark Bay excursion when the Slater was encountered again.

from wikipedia

USS Slater (DE-766) is a Cannon-class destroyer escort that served in the United States Navy and later in the Hellenic (Greek) Navy. The ship was named for Frank O. Slater of Alabama, a sailor killed on the USS San Francisco (CA-38) during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for gallantry in action. The USS Slater is now a museum ship on the Hudson River in Albany, New York, the only one of its kind afloat in the United States. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From the look of it, the ship was being repainted by one guy, which is a ridiculous notion. You can’t paint a Navy Destroyer, retired or not, with just one brush. I’d insist on using a roller, at least.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My understanding is that Slater will have returned to the water by the time you’re reading this, although I’m unsure of when her vacation in the City will be over and she returns to duty in Albany. One cannot imagine how expensive her trip to the spa has been, but Staten Island is noted for its rejuvenating qualities, so it’s probably money well spent.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Paul Andrew, a tug operated by the DonJon towing concern (which has also been mentioned before at this, your Newtown Pentacle), slid past the Statue of Liberty, which was a shot I couldn’t resist capturing or presenting here – at your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are three Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Sunday, June 22nd, America’s Workshop
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Saturday, June 28th, The Poison Cauldron
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 29th, The Insalubrious Valley
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

deeds and aspect

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photos by Mitch Waxman

For this Maritime Sunday, check out the show (visible from the infinities of Brooklyn) which was playing out on the East River last Friday.

What you’re seeing are two Moran Tugs- The Doris Moran and the James Turecamo- towing a floating dry dock past midtown. The Caddell company’s gargantuan… dare I say cyclopean… equipment is an amazing maritime structure. A floating dry dock will submerge itself, whereupon a boat will be floated into position over it, and the structure will rise up and capture the vessel. The dry dock will fully resurface and lift the ship into the air, allowing repairs and maintenance to be performed.

– photos by Mitch Waxman

Here’s a shot of a tug undergoing repair on another one of Cadell’s drydocks at the Kill Van Kull.

Upcoming tours:

The Insalubrious Valley– Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

The Poison Cauldron- Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

sight within

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Maritime Sunday is here once again, and this time around your Newtown Pentacle is focusing in on something most New Yorkers wouldn’t believe exists within the five boroughs- graving or dry docks. These shots are of the Cadell yard, along the Staten Island border formed by the Kill Van Kull.

from wikipedia

A floating drydock is a type of pontoon for dry docking ships, possessing floodable buoyancy chambers and a “U” shaped cross-section. The walls are used to give the drydock stability when the floor or deck is below the surface of the water. When valves are opened, the chambers fill with water, causing the drydock to float lower in the water. The deck becomes submerged and this allows a ship to be moved into position inside. When the water is pumped out of the chambers, the drydock rises and the ship is lifted out of the water on the rising deck, allowing work to proceed on the ship’s hull.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tugs, in particular, take a lot of abuse. Towing hundreds of millions of tons through choppy waters puts terrific strain on their hull and superstructure. Just like the family car, they occasionally need to head for a garage to be inspected and repaired- or just painted to avoid the corruption of oxidation.


CADDELL DRY DOCK AND REPAIR CO., INC (Caddell) accommodates a wide variety of marine vessels on its floating dry docks and piers. The Caddell facility is one of the largest full service shipyards in the New York Metropolitan Area. In addition to our dry docking services, we offer pier side repair work available on our network of eight piers with crane operations able to extend up to 200′ and capable handling loads up to 6500 tons. Caddell has carried on the noble maritime tradition and legacy of a uniquely exceptional shipyard by providing quality and prompt service at competitive prices for the surounding New York City region for more than a century.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like a lot of heavy industries, the graving docks have largely left New York City. Large facilities at Atlantic Basin in Red Hook and other places have simply been left to rot away. The ones in Staten Island seem to be hanging on, doing essential work that keeps the harbor moving.


Building and repairing boats and ships was Staten Island’s most important industry before the First World War. One of the Island’s earliest and most important shipyards belonged to William and James M. Rutan. Their shipyard produced about a 100 schooners and sloops per year. There were 17 shipyards on Staten Island by 1880, located on the North Shore, in Stapleton and in Tottenville. Tugs, propeller yachts and coal barges were built there. US Navy and international shipping in the late 1800s produced a need for large shipyards. They could be found along the Kill van Kull near Mariners Harbor and Port Richmond. In 1901-1902, Townsend and Downey Shipyard built the Meteor III, an imperial yacht for Kaiser Wilhelm. By the 1920s, 18 shipyards employed 6,800 people.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and shows the other sort of drydock, a granite pit outfitted with sea walls and gargantuan pumping mechanisms that can accommodate all but the very largest shipping.

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.

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