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. ..  make that boats and ships.  Thanks to Allen Baker for sending along this set of T-AKR 294 Antares moving out of GMD back in January 2010.  Yup, some drafts get caught in an eddy and they spin round and round never getting posted.  But I’m a believer that late is better than never.

Antares is a Fast Sealift vessel.  Other Fast Sealift ships can be found here.

Charles D and Ellen McAllister assist her stern first out and

spin her around to head for sea.

Recent other government boats include this NJ State Police launch and

this one I’ve never seen before.  (Or since, unless it’s been repainted)

One more, here’s  300 of the New York Naval Militia.

First three fotos come thanks to Allen Baker, from early 2010.  Others are mine.

. . . not nearly so catchy a mnemonic  as “right red returning,” but it means the same thing.  Thomas J. Brown green left returning,

McCormack Boys green right going,

Kristy Ann Reinauer green port returning,

A nameless Caldwell truckable tug green starboard going,

Miss Gill with scow GPR (green port returning),

NJ State Police GSG,

scow GPR . . .

Miriam GSG,

Atlantic Salvor and scow,

That green 9 in the KVK is a great place to set up fotos, but IMHO, it’s best to stick with “right red returning” as a memory keeper.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Small working craft serve a host of  functions, as observed in the fotos below.  I witnessed an interesting gesture involving the New Jersey State Police below, which gave me great respect for the trooper at the helm.  You’ll have to scroll through to the bottom to learn what happened, though.

OK, so this is probably not a work boat today, but deep down inside its skin it’s still a 1929 Coast Guard self-righting lifeboat, and I’d see its function as raising the spirit of its owner . . . it would surely raise mine if I were galloping about on clear days in it.

But so many other functions are played by small craft in a harbor like the sixth boro that sees almost constant traffic of nearly 1000-footers.  Clean-ups,

miscellaneous services,

surveying aka reading the invisible contours of  the old river’ thoughts,   (In foreground is SSG-577 aka Growler, hardly deterring the approach of an unidentified but intrepid orange survey boat that has appeared on this blog previously.)

rescue and small-boat towing,

and more clean-ups,

and more surveying,



assisting in dock construction as platforms and –very important–catcher of dropped tools.

That’s it for now.  So, the story of the State Trooper.    While I watched NYK Rigel getting backed out to sea on Thursday, I saw this small RIB boat racing northbound on the Arthur Kill, not an unusual sight.  Inexplicably (to me) the trooper throttled back.  I had seen a speck in the water just at that moment, but it was too small to make out.  After a quarter minite or so, the trooper throttled back up and disappeared into Newark Bay.  As the speck approached my position, I began to distinguish two Canada geese, swimming quite slowly toward me.  Then, there was something between the two.  There it was . . . two goose parents with two goslings, the tiniest Canadas I have ever seen.  I know that not everyone is thrilled by Canadas or any other goose or duck proliferation, but my hat goes off to the trooper for spotting them and making to effort to not swamp the young’uns.  There should be an sixth boro version of Make Way for the Ducklings,  in which all manner of shipping from small craft to tankers to tugboats can put the deadlines aside to  . . .  make way.

I’ll leave it to you to wonder whether I got too much sun yesterday.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Related:  Scroll this joan sol’s post here and watch the video on trying to capsize a well-designed and constructed small craft.

When tugs race on Sunday, government boats will officiate.  Here are a few players.

When Liberty IV splashed into her element in 1989 at the Washburn & Doughty yard in East Boothbay, ME, she began a career that she still occupies:  to ferry Park Service employees and supplies from the “mainland” to several stops in the sixth boro archipelago, i.e.,  Liberty Island and Ellis Island.  Besides bearing a heritage relationship with such diverse vessels as Pati T. Moran, Shearwater, and Black Knight, she also carries a unique escutcheon on her stern.

aaagb1Does anyone have fotos of Liberty I or II or III?  Would Liberty I be sail or steam?


John D. McKean, foto taken one sunset a few weeks back, started service in 1954, first splashing into the waters in Camden at John H. Mathis, the same yard that built Mary Whalen!


A Perth Amboy Fire boat zipped eastward in the KVK last month.  That’s K-Sea Baltic Sea in the background.


USACE Moritz, in  hurry toward Newark Bay last week. Moritz comes from Kvichak Industries, soon


disappeared round the bend at Bergen Point.


Other recent fotos of government boats include this ones entrusted to  Union County (New Jersey)  Police,

aagmx3and New Jersey State Police.


Finally, certainly NOT a government boat, but a German ship that has vessels that experiment with alternative propulsion.  Foto was taken by bowsprite from her cliff last week.  Did anyone catch the name?


Finally, as of Wednesday morning writing, Flinterduin will approach the Narrows near dusk tonight and start offloading tomorrow at dawn.  And I have to be at work . . . from dusk today until dawn Friday . . .  maybe I can sneak away to do tugster’s bidding.

All fotos here by Will Van Dorp.

Traffic crowded this end of the Arthur Kill the other afternoon:  count the three tugs and two ships and lots of petrol engines crossing the Goethals Bridge.  Andromeda, the handysize oil tanker dead center, heads for sea.  The voice of the AK RR bridge might be about to announce a lowering, and all who know better scramble to distance themselves.


Of course, Andromeda still needs to negotiate  twists and turns and smaller vessels like the NJ State Police and Odin who motor helterskelter around front.  So “Andromeda” I learned in science class as a constellation, a word that felt nice dripping off my tongue.


Smaller traffic gone, the Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN) tanker turns to starboard past NYK Daedalus,


the front of its house like a billboard proclaiming the company mantra to the few who see.  And such a megamantra:  “No smoking” and “Safety first” are intended for crew working out front.   But who is the audience for “Protect the environment,” except of course everyone, but does writing that on the house make a difference?  Most tankers have at least two of those messages, but since when?  How long ago did this trend begin?  The really unusual text is is “Trust Tradition Teamwork.”  Is “Tradition Teamwork” the object of the command “Trust”?

Yeah, I know, we all know that our surroundings are filled with text, some of which is critical and other . . . fluff.  Being able to distinguish the two is a survival skill.


As she heads for sea, consider whether Andromeda as a name of your vessel might make you comfortable.  Some info on the mythological reference below.  Meanwhile, have you ever seen a foto of the tanker Condolezza Rice?  See it here.  Might there be a tanker needing renaming before the incoming Secretary of State is confirmed?


Andromeda, the myth persona,  was offered as a sacrifice to the sea to atone for the sins of her bratty mother Cassiopeia, only to be saved by the adroit bladesman Perseus.  Enjoy the wild 19th century paintings inspired by the myth:  reading the paintings suggests Andromeda, the daughter,  came close to being lunch to some vile sea beast or dessert to some lecherous sea dog.  The good news is that actual ship names don’t matter.  So what if she’s called Andromeda;  she’s not a sacrifice.  And the bad news is that actual ship names don’t matter . . . disappointing that we don’t at least fit these stories into contemporary context.  Suppose they paint the house, at least, with mantras related to protecting Andromeda, not sacrificing anyone to anything, and trusting something or someone decipherable and reliable, whoever that might be these days.

By the way, the NYC National Boatshow has begun.  See you there.

Here, all images by Will Van Dorp.

First, a really impressive new blog I’ve become a fan of is Kennebec Captain. And from it, here‘s an intriguing story on thousands of longshoremen shutting down over two dozen West Coast ports on May Day.

Now. . . more of these color coded vessels. I think my recent tax payment subsidized fuel costs on this one. Any guesses when the Coast Guard started the red and blue stripes on its hulls? Why is black used for that fishing pole mounted on the port rail near the stern? uh . . . you mean that’s not trolling gear?

Here’s the year for the addition of the stripe.

How long have Harbor Unit NYPD boats been blue? I don’t know.

Given the color scheme above, what agency is this vessel from? Answer here.

What will become of the venerable red FireFighter when the new Robert Allen vessel arrives? When is it expected?

Why are USCG tugs like Line black rather than white? And why doesn’t it have trolling gear? Maybe in keeping with the color of the Defender class boats, might future USCG tugs might be some shade of orange–pumpkin, Florida, Brazilian?

Photos, WVD.

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June 2023