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Some basic numbers on Orion: LOA 95′, beam 30′. What’s remarkable to me is that afloat and moving forward, this vessel might not seem significantly different from all the other tugs along the coast. Notice the greenish floor of the dry dock. More on that later.


Below is a view of the starboard VSP from the engine room. Given the location of the drive unit midships, the engines are mounted with reduction gear forward. Notice the two vertical rods coupled onto different points of the disc cover. Those rods mechanically connect to the helm and levers to control orientation of the “props,” thereby the direction of the vessel. The disc cover is about 4′ diameter.



The shaft projecting downward through the deck is connected to the helm; one arm goes to each VSP unit.



For a little more sense of scale, the door in the drydock left side of the foto is 6′ tall. From floor of dry dock to top is about 18 feet.



Here’s another shot of the VSP. Each blade is about 4′ long.



Orion operates out of Boston with Constellation Maritime (out of date fotos), a subsidiary of Foss Maritime. Here’s a link to the Thea Foss story. The vessel below is tractor tug Leo, a Constellation Maritime tug with mostly similar lines. Many thanks, Ted, for the tour and the foto below.  Scroll all through this link for great fotos of this type of tug.


Except the last one from TA, photos . . . WVD.

That’s what Capt. Ted asked as we approached his vessel, Orion, ( high, dry, and freshly sandblasted) at May Ship Yard.  Notice here and elsewhere the greenish floor of the drydock.


Nor does Orion have a rudder. That’s a fixed skeg, as large as the keel of a sailboat.



Seen from the bow, there’s an odd “skid plate” mounted to the hull; those “tubes” are solid and have the strength to hold up the hull on a beach at low tide.



Between the hull and the plate are the external portions of the twin Voith-Schneider units, which serve as props and rudders. Here’s another link on the VSP. Here’s one to scroll through.



Side view showing the hard chines of the hull.



Orion has twin sets of controls; these look aft. The wheel walks the tug laterally; twin levers to the right walk it forward and aft without having to idle down from one direction to the other. Controls farther right are for the winch.

Orion was built as America in 1982 in Coos Bay, Oregon. More fotos later.

Photo, WVD.

There was a Little Toot here half a year ago, but



this one, in spite of its name, can work.



Give it a more assertive name, please. Or, since this is time for “sirens on sunday,”



festoon it with a pudding like this.

Photos, WVD.



Part of the reason I keep doing this blog is that “looking” leads to understanding. So look at exhibit A, bow of Fr8 Endeavour. Cool name. Oh, that’s bunker vessel Rolf Williams passing to starboard.



Here’s the rest of Fr8 Endeavour.



And yesterday I saw Stena Contest. Again, cool name. Fancy paint job. Exhibit B. Strictly speaking, Stena Contest has three siblings, and four cousins.



That’s K-Sea Falcon behind that fuel barge to starboard and Don Jon Marine’s Atlantic Salvor (I think) towing off in the distance.



Silhouette says Atlantic Salvor, but I couldn’t confirm it. So which two of these vessels make up part of the same fleet?

I’d never have guessed, but Fr8 Endeavour (note the British spelling) and Stena Contest are part of the same fleet operated by Stena. Scroll on through to the MR (Middle Range) list, and you’ll see it. Launch sites differ: Fr8 Endeavour is South Korea and Stena Contest is Pula, Croatia.

It‘s past, but that means winter’s start was a quarter year back and


summer’s start is less than three months away. Oh, that’s Marie J. Turecamo above.

Check out Brian’s fotos from Operation Christmas Cheer 2007 here.

Photo, WVD.

Turecamo Boys aka Boys has to be a favorite, but here’s more of the fleet.



Rafted up here Kimberly (ex-Rebecca P), Cape Cod, and barely visible, Jean,



and then the same three after separating. Jean Turecamo (to the left) was featured high and dry last spring.



Above is Jean with Lee T Moran. And below she idles in the sun . . .




and works in a squall. Jean was launched from Matton Shipyard in Cohoes in 1975. See this link for another Matton tug.


Photos, WVD.

Names themselves can fascinate, once the basic architecture of vessel traffic ceases to vary much. I’ve noticed the same is true in some of my relations with people after all: once I got it that anatomically we’re quite the same with predictable variation, novelty is sometimes only a matter of one’s name or place of origin.



And like this below, it took me a while to figure out the English, but I did and then I found this fabulous icy Quebec foto here.



It took a while to figure this name as Ji Li Hu, a Cosco panamax tanker, as depicted here.


Some names are clear although the reference quite escapes me, except in the context of her siblings.



Looks like that bulbous bow has taken some blows.

Photos, WVD.

I’ve never noticed Tradewind Service in the Kills before, and


American Patriot, ex-Mister Robert (hailing port Honolulu but rounding Shooter’s here a month or so back) is a new one for me, as



is Houma, but then again stuff is always changing. New equipment and people arrive all the time. And



this fact highlights the need for updating records and archives and delving once more into storage boxes. I got a jolt of energy from stumbling onto these archives of postcards showing tugs, barges, and canal/river details. Thanks much to the folks at Virtual U. It occurs that a fun project might be to match these canal town postcards with Fred (Tug44)’s 2007 fotos of the same canal towns.

I discovered it while hunting info on Philip T. Feeney featured here last week. Click here for a black/white foto of Thomas A. Feeney. So anybody know what happened to the Thomas A. Feeney Corporation? Who last operated Philip T. before grounding it on Richmond Terrace?

Also, Philip T. was “dieselized” in the late 1940s. Has anyone ever heard of old marine steam engines recycled into vessels in other countries? Let me explain the question: in the mid-1970s I spend some years working in the Congo (Zaire), where steamers still operated on Congo River tributaries. I heard a story then of these steam engines having been shipped from the United States shipped to be refitted into steamers. At river town docks, wood piles always awaited.

Photos, WVD.

A third of a year has passed since I last used this title. So . . . short post, odds and ends.

First, this waterside foto of the Phillip T. Feeney shows the extent of her deterioration. Sad. I’d like to know the stories of her life. The buildings in the background stand along Richmond Terrace.



And you may wonder what’s become of my beloved Alice. The foto below is from her last visit back in December, I think. Now she’s halfway around the world in . . .



Japan. Actually, off southern Japan. Hey maybe adventure, a spring fling, or maybe in quest of exotic aggregates for the Brooklyn market, who knows?

I’m quite in need of spring, spring healing that is. Winter’s left me with a bug.

Photos, WVD.

Spring, Iraq War Year 6, and Easter all begin these days. These fotos show how the Meadowlands in northwestern New Jersey will look in a month or so. Below upper left, that’s Snake Hill aka Laurel Hill aka “Rock of Gibraltar” in the background.



When Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990, I was working in Kuwait and trapped there. After two weeks of staying out of sight, I was arrested. A few days later, Iraqi soldiers turned me over to the secret police. Along with about 15 other people (frequently changing) I was held at a strategic site as a human shield from late August until mid-December 1990. In my case, the site was an oil refinery south of Basra not far from the Shatt al-Arab water way.  In Iraq, there’s an area not unlike the Meadowlands. Today I heard Dr. Azzam Alwash of The Eden Again Project interviewed on the Leonard Lopate show. By the way, the Iraqi marshlands begin south of Qurnah, regarded as the site of the legendary “Garden of Eden.” Hearing Dr. Alwash felt like the first positive story I’ve heard about Iraq in years. Listen to it on podcast at the link to his name above.

Alwash will be one of the many fabulous speakers at World Water Day 2008 at the American Museum of Natural History. It’s been said that future wars will be over water, not oil. Or both. Even states in the United States conflict over shared water.



The foto above shows the Meadowlands at low tide. Like the Iraqi marsh, it’s a major bird world. If the Meadowlands ever had a stable human population like Iraq’s Marsh Arabs–depicted in Wilfred Thesiger’s outstanding fotos— we have no knowledge of them. It’s hard enough to imagine NJs current Meadowlands as a place once covered by dense forest, which it was until the British colonial constabulary burned it down to ferret out pirates.

Photos, WVD.

My time in Iraq can be read about here.

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March 2008