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Earlier this month ran an intriguing set of photos taken by Mr. Cushman.  Here’s his entire archive.  Here’s a good selection.

The warehouses on the opposite side of the river from red vessel below are the current location of Brooklyn Bridge Park.  That makes the pier location a little south of piers 16 and 15. South Street Seaport Museum’s boats today.  Could that be Ollie, the stick lighter currently disintegrating in Verplanck?


I’m not sure what we’re looking at here, but the Cushman identifies it as 1941.  According to Paul Strubeck, it’s likely an express lighter–a category of self-propelled vessel I was not aware of–possibly operated by Lee and Simmons Lighterage.

cwc2battry 1941

And finally . .  I wish this photo–dated September 1940-– had been framed differently.  Phillip’s Foods is still around, although I’ve never eaten at any of their restaurants or if this is even the same company.  Royal Clover . .  . I can’t find anything about that brand.  And seeing all those cartons in Jeff and the barges, today there’d be a few containers and you’d have no idea of the contents.

cwc3lighter jeff balt

You can search Cushman’s archives here. I cll these “fifth dimension” i.e., time added, photos.

For another treasure trove of photos of old New York harbor, click here.



Here’s a post I did on McClintic and another I did on Cotter.

Today’s post comes out of a response I received yesterday from retired FDNY dispatcher and historian, Al Trojanowicz, who wrote, “The full photo is fire aboard SAUGUS, American Export Lines (1919) with fireboat WILLIAM F GAYNOR (1914) alongside, and a mystery vessel off to left.  Appears to be similar configuration to the quarantine tug, and original print shows and what looks like a government pennant displayed with a circular or ships-wheel design.  The information below is all I have found on this fire, and was the caption pasted to the back of the print.  Those ladders seen on forward well deck may be accessing the hold – or from another vessel rafted on the port side.”

The caption pasted on the back reads:  “10/2/1926 Fire in freighter Saugus. Photo caption READS  “FIREBOATS STAGE SPECTACULAR BATTLE AND SAVE FREIGHTER!”    Fireboats fought a brilliant battle, October 2nd, and saved the freighter Saugus from burning to the water’s edge in the East River, New York. The cause of the fire is unknown, but the rolls of thick black smoke issuing from the hold, attracted passing craft, and fire patrols. This photo shows the ship which was loaded mostly with cotton, removed frantically by the hands, off New York City.”  (10-2-26) [Photo shows fireboat William J. Gaynor alongside Saugus. An unknown launch is rafted outboard of Gaynor, and an unknown vessel to the left.]  

The caption says . . . East River, but the background to me looks like Staten Island seen from mid-Upper Bay.

0at1SAUGUS fire c1923

So here’s a closer up of that unknown vessel.  Is it flying the USPHS flag?

I’d speculate that this is a US PHS cutter.  I’ve been unable to find a listing of these–like McClintic–based in New York.  Also, although today’s FDNY boats have medical response equipment on board and FDNY personnel receive first responder training, back in 1926 they probably did not.  And this raises another whole set of questions like, what was training like in the 1926 FDNY, what medical equipment if any was there on board FDNY vessels, and would USPHS vessels have a role in assisting during fires on the water and along the shores and docks?  It ask strikes me that–given the amount of smoke emanating from the stacks of these steamers made a fire on the water look very different from one today, where all the smoke you see is from the emergency, not the routine use of fuel.   Finally, I’m guessing this fire was not catastrophic consequence given that no story appears in the NYTimes archives and SS Saugus continued in service until 1946, when it as scrapped.

0at2Saugus tug Oct 2 1926

Al also sent along this photo of the Buffalo fireboat Cotter (1900), still in service.  Here is a photo of it in 1924, probably in Buffalo.   At that date it was still known by its original name, William S. Grattan.  In 1928, while fighting a fire on the Buffalo River, it was heavily damaged and rebuilt.

0at3grattan 2 c 1924

Many thanks to Al Trojanowicz for these photos and questions.  Click here and scroll for more information from Al on FDNY Marine division.

Note:  This is day 13 of December, tugster’s classic/historic vessel month.  If you have photos/stories to share that fit the “classic” parameters, please get in touch.

I don’t make much fuss about Christmas for reasons I explained here 10 years ago;  when I really want something and I can afford it, I just get it.  Of course, I have no problems with anyone going all out with gifts.  Books and experiences make the best gifts.  Experiences . . . teach you and you can remember them forever.

Books . . . you read them once and then read them again or give them to someone you think will enjoy them as much as or more than you did.  See the book cover below . . .  great cover and fabulous book.  Inside you find crisp photos, reproductions of painting of McAllister vessels,  family stories,  . . . even an owners’ family tree that clarifies some of the boat names.  The story starts in 1864 as James McAllister (generation 1) stood on the northeast coast of Ireland about to emigrate across the Atlantic.


One of my favorite stories involves the boat below, launched from Newport News Shipbuilding Co. in May 1909 as John Twohy, Jr, for Lambert’s Point Tow Boat Company.  Renamed J. P. McAllister, this boat served as a platform for the one-and-only Harry Houdini‘s escape from handcuffs and leg irons inside  a nailed-shut, weighted packing case.  Here’s a reference to this event in a recent NYTimes, but in this book, you get two photos of the event and facsimiles of the contemporary news story and the J. P. McAllister logbook entry, all attesting to the tremendous research involved in this beautifully produced volume.

One more great story . . . typical of struggles to divide up ownership in any family business.  When disagreement came to a head in on a cold Easter Sunday morning in 1904, “the partners decided to work out the percentages once and for all by meeting on a tugboat, taking it offshore, and not returning until they had an agreement.”  Now Capt. Jim (generation 2) told his 6 year-old son A. J. to wait at the pier until they all returned.  Which happened to be as night fell.  Here’s how it’s told:   “Capt. Jim … his face covered in blood . . .  jumped off [the boat onto the pier where A. J. had waited all day], grabbed A. J. by the hand, and said, ‘That’s it.  It’s settled.  The issue is settled.'”


Below is one of my many favorite full-page photos in the book.  Another photo a few pages later adds detail not unlike Birk Thomas and collaborators do here.


A book like this focuses not only on a family business but also New York City, with all six of its boros,  and the country.  The photo below shows the McAllister yard behind Ellis Island, real estate taken over in the 1970s for the creation of Liberty State Park.  Today’s margins of the harbor are that way only because of thousands of decisions.


The author, Stephanie Hollyman has a website that highlights an impressive breadth of work.

Click here for ordering info.

Since we’re looking at books, here’s one that might be ripe for updating.   Another one I’ve reread and enjoyed recently is Buckets and Belt:  Evolution of the Great Lakes Self-Unloader by William M. Lafferty, Valerie van Heest, and Kenneth Pott.

I love it when followup appears, especially when I don’t expect it.  Like this . . . over three years ago, I did this post about the 1952 race.  Much later .  . a little over a month ago, this comment from Robert Sullivan registered on the blog:  “great article. my grandfather –R. Sullivan–was the captain of the Shamokin (Reading Company) and I have in my office the plaque he won that day. Shamokin is still working now in Norfolk but for a while was owned by Express Marine towing coal from Baltimore to Trenton.”   Two weeks later,  this response came to a question I’d asked:  “Yes … I have a picture of Shamokin at the dock from Sept. 1952 with the crew and names listed on the back of the photo. … When I found out that Express Marine was still running the boat out of Pennsauken NJ,  I called them and was connected to the president of the company. The first thing he said was “Do you know the Shamokin won the 1952 tugboat races!?”

Well, the races took place on August 27, 1952, which means that this is a victory photo.  For a full photo of the tug at the dock, click here and scroll to the bottom of page 1.


All these photos come from Robert Sullivan, who photographed both photo and info on the back, which I’ll transcribe here:

“Left to Right.  Ed Good, Shore Capt Reading Lines.  Ed Walters, Mrg of P Reading Term.  R Sullivan, Capt of Tug Shamokin.  G Mosenthine, Engineer.  A Ivanick, Steward.  G Milonakis, Steward.  F Pauleson, Engineer.  M Yurmason, Oiler.  B Wescott, Deckhand.  C Bloodgood, Deckhand.”  Any transcription errors are mine.


Here’s another shot, Shamokin with a scow on both hips.


And verso on this photo I read “O’Neil, Sorsa, Dad, Herpo, & Jim Rea.”


Here, from tugboat, is a summary of Shamokin‘s working life, which goes on 63 years later.  All that’s missing is a photo of the tug today as Alfred Walker.  Can anyone send one along?

Click here and scroll for an Express Marine photo of the boat.  Shamokin was launched from RTC Shipbuilding in Camden a decade and some after John B. Caddell, and about the same time as Ocean King, Edith Thornton, and Big Daddy, pictured below in a photo I took near the Hays yard in June 2010.



Many thanks to Rob Sullivan for sharing these photos.

December is classic boat (more than a quarter century old) month on tugster.  Please contact me –see the left side navigation bar here–if you have photos and stories to contribute.

At the end of the Oneida Lake series, you’ll see why this could also be called “second lives 15 part b.”

Technically, this post starts out early morning in Clay, NY, with tug Syracuse and crane ship Wards Island tied to the east end of Lock 23.


Wards Island–and her sister ship Tenkenas–were built in 1929 by Electric Boat of Groton CT.  Later in the series I’ll show you the brass builder’s plate.   By 1937, both were listed as abandoned.  For some of the history of intervening years, check out A Long Haul starting on p. 128.


Here Syracuse pushes Wards Island under the rail bridge just west of Route 11 heading for the lake.  A key to the location is the Brewerton Range Rear lighthouse, visible in the trees along the right side margin of the photo.


The lake is unusually glassy for November and the fall task of replacing the summer navigation buoys with winter “placeholder” spar buoys, seen here below between the crane boom and the spud.  Wards Island is fully self-propelled in the manner you’d expect of a former double-ender ferry, just very slow, a time waste on a large lake like Oneida.  Click here for info on tug and barge wrecks in the lake.


Type Syracuse into the left side search box and you’ll find many more posts featuring this 1933 workhorse.


Here’s the view through the controls of the crane looking toward the east end of the lake.


To the right you see the Verona Beach Lighthouse, and buoy 106 is in sight to the left of the hook.


The tow is maneuvered into position and a crewman captures the buoy with the boat hook.


The crew make the connection and 106 gets raised. In part b and c of this series,  I’ll show the crew actions step by step.


Since no spar buoy replaces 106, anchor and all are brought up.  In the distance to the left you can see the Route 13 bridge between Verona and Sylvan Beach.   Click here for one of many posts I did in 2014 with photos from near the Route 13 bridge.


Buoy 107 is next on the boat, and


the first spar buoy goes in, anchored  to mark the spot.


By 1130, we’re approaching buoy  109.


The crewman with the yellow sweatshirt is using a tool to hook between the buoy lift point and the crane hook.


Once a buoy is on the boat, the flashing beacon is removed and


stowed in a locker.


All photos by Will Van Dorp.  More of Oneida Lake tomorrow.

Many thanks to the NYS Canal Corporation for granting permission to photograph the work of Wards Island.



This photos and text come from JS, a frequent commenter on this blog.   He took the photos on a voyage that left NYC in July 1966 and returned to LA in December.

JS:  “President Pierce (C-3) is being dragged stern first from the dock by an Indonesian tug to mid channel in a shifting procedure.   I took the snaps standing on the dock of a rubber port in Java.  We loaded latex rubber.  The port was Belawan Deli. No one went ‘ashore’ but we did trade newly purchased Seiko watches for Bali heads to smuggle home and  sell in antique stores.That place was a short day or two sail from our loading general cargo in Singapore.”




Tugster:  I’ve no idea what has become of this steam tug. Here’s some info on Djatisari.


Here’s some info on Florian Ceynowa.

JS continues:  “It’s me on the right (2nd electrician, promoted from wiper), my uncle Al (John Noble‘s neighbor) and Steve Duhamel, the bull wiper.  He was great at moving 55-gallon drums anywhere in the engine room.  Also, note the longshoremens outhouse overhanging the stern rail of the Pierce.”


JS:  “Fish loading was from an anchorage in either Port Swettanam, or Penang, Malaysia. Local longshoremen winched them from boats alongside, stacked them in our t’ween deck reefers, and we discharged half the load into uncovered trucks on a cold Yokohama dock weeks later and the rest stayed on for U.S.”


“Whole frozen tuna gathered by the tails, being winched from fishing boats holds.”


“After a 6-month ‘jungle run’, conditions on board had become lax. The ship was in disarray, so perhaps the patrolmans report was a bit severe.   We were paid with cash and we happily descend the gangway in a “suitcase parade”.


Many thanks, JS.  I’d love to see more pics and hear other stories like these.

The world was truly a different place a half century ago.


The title is such a mouthful that I’ll soon reduce it to GHP&W. Although this blog began with photos and observations of mostly working vessels in the great harbor associated with New York City, the watery part of which I call the sixth boro, the blog followed a course suggested by these vessels to other GHP&Ws. And given then the global nature of water traffic, it seems logical to devote at least a month to other GHP&Ws.

I’ll kick off with this post about a port I’ll likely never visit, the former Aral Sea fishing port of Moynaq in Uzbekistan.  The photos come from Getty Images by Bjorn Holland and Kelly Cheng. Surprisingly maybe, I live in a neighborhood of NYC where Uzbek is the dominant language, which was part of my motivation to read a Tom Bissell book called Chasing the Sea:  Lost among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia.  I highly recommend it.

So here are some detail areas of a huge aerial photo print I saw the other day.  Can anyone point to detail that confirms a date?  My guess is somewhere in the 50s or 60s.   The first photo below shows the southeast point of Bayonne NJ.  The peninsula bisecting the top and bottom is MOTBY.  Governors Island is upper right and the Statue is upper left with the southern tip of Manhattan along the top.


Below is a closer up of the lower right corner of the photo above, showing that tugboat, some barges, and two sets of  trucks  at the cement dock.


Note the Statue and Ellis Island.  To the left of it is now Liberty State Park.  The Caven Point Pier crosses the center of the photo and the current Global Terminal is still waiting for fill.


Below is the just capped landfill that is topped by the Bayonne Golf Club.   Lower left is quite the gunkhole with disintegrating watercraft I’d love to see a closeup of.


Remember that all the B/W “photos” above are parts of the same aerial shot.

Let’s have a fun month with lots of GHP&Ws.  And not to be too prescriptive, I’d love photos from a variety of GHP&Ws in Asia and Africa, mostly lacking in my previous 2900+ posts.  Of course, here and here are a few posts I’ve done on African ports; here,  Asian; and here and here, South American.

While I’m asking for collaboration, I have a chance to replicate a trip on a major African river that I originally did in 1973-74;  what I seek is leads to a publication that might be interested in the story and photos. The trip is pricey, and if I can sell a tale with photos, I can offset some of the expense. Anyone have ideas or connections?

Hudson, launched 1939, spent WW2 working for the British Ministry of Shipping, having left the Netherlands with a tow to Africa just before the Germany invasion and occupation.  After the War, it towed to ports worldwide until 1963, when it was deemed underpowered and sold for scrap.  Instead, it was purchased by a fishery as an ice-making ship, which it did until 1989.  And again it was to be scrapped.  This time, a foundation bought it, invested 14 years of restoration, and now, as a unique industrial  artifact, it’s berthed in Maassluis, where visitors can picture the life of those in ocean towing from just before WW2 until 1960.





Hercules was built in the Netherlands in 1915 and worked for a Danish company until the late 1970s, when it was purchased for much-needed restoration.  See its condition here.




Furie has a similar story:  it was built in the Netherlands in 1916, sold to a Swedish lumber company in 1918.  It worked mostly on the Baltic until 1976, when it was returned to the Netherlands for restoration and assumed a role in a Dutch TV series called Hollands Glorie, inspired by Jan de Hartog novel.  You can watch the 90-minute series pilot here.   It was made in 1977 and in Dutch, but it follows a new chief mate named Jan Wandelaar (hiker or wanderer) in the “hiring hall.”   Give it a shot.  If you want to skip around, the captain’s character gets established around the 10-minute mark.  Around the 21-minute mark they are off the coast of Ireland.  Around the 29-minute mark, the captain negotiates in his version of English for the tow and the next few minutes are exciting.  Around 41 minutes in, they are towing a dredge along the WestAfrican coast to Nigeria.  Around 1 hour 5,” they deal with a leak in the dredge.




Equally picturesque although I don’t know the stories are Anna and




These photos by Freek Konings come via Fred Trooster, to whom both I am grateful.

This post from 2013  was prompted by a request from Freek that I try to learn the disposition of a former Dutch Navy tug, likely sunk by the USCG.  We are still looking for info on the fate of Wamandai.

Here’s a link to the series.

Click anywhere on the photo below to see its provenance.  My question is .  . where and when was this photo taken?


Here’s a closer up of the top portion of the photo.  And if you haven’t clicked on the photo above, I’ll tell you the source is a fine book by Captain Bill Eggert called Gentlemen of the Harbor.


The image below comes from  an archived issue of Moran’s Towline magazine.  You have another chance to guess the date.  A difference here is that the photos above show the Class B boats and the one below the first two finishers of the Class A boats in this race.


And here is the answer.  Evidence of the location of this race is in this link, where you see vintage photos of the Edgewater Ford plant, which closed in 1955 and was demolished in the late 1980s.   Click here for some unusual Ford trucks built in Edgewater and used during WW2.

Back to the International Maritime Races,  click here for info on the winner Socony 11, who came back to race 54 years later!!  Photo at the end of this post.   For career info and photos of Carol Moran, click here.


Excuse the redundancy in the image below, also from the October 1953 issue of Towline.


Here’s a 9/13/1953 Brooklyn Eagle p. 22 version of the race.


Going back to the top photo, YTB-499 is still in USCG documentation, now as Marine Retriever, operating out of Coos Bay, OR.  C. Stewart Lee, originally built for the Navy as YT-134, is likely scrapped.  New York Central No. 25, disposition unknown,was built in Newburgh in 1908. Maybe someone else can add some info on what looks like Dauntless No. 2 and the boat beyond it.    And the two spectator boats?  I presume the larger one is a Circle Line vessel.

I hope I’m right about Dorothy Elizabeth being the reincarnation of Socony 11.   Unfortunately, in the photo from 2007, she was not far from the scrapper’s jaws. Click here (and scroll) to see how the same boat appeared in the movie Carlito’s Way.


taken by Will Van Dorp, September 2, 2007

Check out Eggert’s Gentlemen of the Harbor.


Here was part 1.  Thanks much for the comments.  My conclusion is that most but not all were taken at the 1986 centennial celebration of our lady of the harbor.    I am still seeking a photo of the canal tug Grand Erie, ex-USACE Chartiers, launched in 1951, at the event.

Barque Simón Bolívar it would be good to see her back in the sixth boro again.  At this point, she was less than a decade old.   This past summer, she called in various ports in the Caribbean.


Any help here anyone?


USS Iowa BB-61 served as the reviewing stand for the event.  Click here for scans of the day and here for video.  Can anyone identify the tug alongside the battleship starting at about 2:10?


Barque Eagle of course.  Can anyone identify the tugs in this photo?


It’s schooner Pioneer in the background.


The red-hulled vessel at the foot of the tower .  . is that stick lighter Ollie, now rotting away in VerPlanck?  See the end of this post.   Anyone know the USCG tug?


These look like the morning-after spent fireworks shells.  What did it say in front of “industry” here?  And here ends the photos supplied by Harry Thompson.


And here, as a note that I should do a post soon about Ollie . . . is one of the photos I took of her in 2010.  I saw her earlier in 2015, and it’ was even sadder by five years than this one.  Anyone have good pics of Ollie in her day?

Thanks very much, Harry, for getting this show going.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click on image below to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.

Tale of Two Marlins

Blue Marlin spent 600+ hours loading tugs and barges in NYC Sixth Boro. Click on image for presentation made to NY Ship Lore and Model Club, July 25, 2011.


October 2016
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