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Have you ever seen these huge ships that regularly sail in and out of our harbor?

Wallenius Aida underway with her vehicle ramp stowed. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

They have no portholes to speak of, and look like gargantuan floating boxes, their mysterious contents shrouded within.

They are called “Ro-Ro’s” by the industry… but why?

Courageous Ace with Charles D. McAllister. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

Ro-Ro’s are vehicle transport ships.

Vehicles, unlike other cargo, are not packed into shipping containers and loaded by gantry or transfer cranes. Instead the automobiles are driven right onto the ship and then off again, once they reach their port of destination.

A Moran tug assists Wallenius Tancred passing Robbins Reef Lighthouse and the Statue of Liberty. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

“Ro-Ro” is short for “roll-on, roll-off”, a descriptive term used to describe car carrying cargo vessels. Loading and unloading vehicles in this way is very effective in getting the gigantic carriers in and out of port quickly and efficiently.

Eminent Ace. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

I wonder how many Ro-Ro’s cruise in and our of our port daily. I never fail to see at least one every time I am out on the water.

Asian King at dock with the vehicle ramp extended. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

What about you? Have you see any Ro-Ro’s lately? Share them with us! Post your photos at the WHC photo pool on flickr.

And to all who celebrate, a very Happy Easter and Passover to you and your loved ones!

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee, Thanks to Mitch Waxman / Newtown Pentacle for the generous use of his photos.





The nice weather days we had last week were really welcome, but that blast of April snow was NOT. Still, I’ve had some quiet days shooting this week, with lots of activity to shoot.

Penn No. 4 sporting her new “Kirby” paint job. Photo: ©John Skelson

MSC Marta…Out to Sea. Photo: ©John Skelson

McAllister Sisters with one “On the Hip”. Photo:©John Skelson

Mary Gellatly. Photo: ©John Skelson

Kimberly Poling. Photo: ©John Skelson

Launch ABC 1 delivering supplies to a ship. Photo: ©John Skelson

Tanker SFC Pechoria in Stapleton Anchorage, Robert E McAllister ducking out behind. Photo: ©John Skelson

4 Days later at IMTT Bayonne. Photo: ©John Skelson

Sea Tow to the Rescue. Photo: ©John Skelson

St Andrew with some new paint. Photo: ©John Skelson

Weddell Sea “On the Wire” out to sea. Photo: ©John Skelson

Ruth M Reinauer. Photo: ©John Skelson

Gramma Lee T Moran meets Dace at the fuel dock. Photo: ©John Skelson

All photos taken the week of 4/13/14. Until next week… John Skelson.

All photos by John Skelson for the Working Harbor Committee

Big News!

Graves of Arthur Kill”  will make its World Premiere on Wednesday, May 7 at the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival. The 32 minute documentary – directed by Will Van Dorp, aka Tugster – will be one of 5 short films shown on Opening Night.

There will be a prescreening reception which starts at 7 p.m. and the films begin at 8 p.m. Click here for tickets.

Brooklyn Heights Cinema
70 Henry Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Subway: A/C to High Street or 2/3 to Clark Street


World Premiere

Documentary, 32 min. USA
Directed by Will Van Dorp

Though it’s been described as an “accidental museum,” the graveyard of ships at New York City’s southernmost point isn’t on any tourism maps. The site is owned by a metal recycling company and visitors are turned away. But this bone yard begs for attention. Rusty tugboats sit lopsided in its muddy waters. Rotting wooden skeletons of old barges dot the shoreline. Collectively, these crumbling vessels seem like haunting maritime sculptures in a massive art installation.

Will Van Dorp is a photographer, author and English professor at Union County College in Elizabeth, N.J. He is also a knowledgeable observer of what he calls New York City’s “sixth borough,” the waters in and around the Port of New York. He chronicles much that happens in these waters in his “Tugster” blog, which was featured in a 2011 New York Times profile.


Just a quick post today of a very cool photo-series by Mitch Waxman – who went down to Newtown Creek over the weekend to get a look at the dredging that is going on. The clam-shell “scooper” that was spit-shiny clean a couple of weeks ago has now been well worked, and is smeared with the black, oily sediments of the federal superfund site.

Check out how DonJon’s rig and tugs seem to match the brilliant blue sky as they work on clearing the bed of the creek. The dredging operation is now running 24/7 and if all goes as planned, should be completed in the next month or so.

DonJon’s dredging rig and tugs on Newtown Creek. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

DonJon’s work boat keeps the barge nice and stable. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

Industry-geeks will like this one. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

Toxic ‘black mayonnaise’ sediment dribbles from the clam-shell. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

The dredging is now in operation 24 hours-a-day. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

Thomas D. Witte. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

The dredging operation is slated to take 6 weeks. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

The watery mix is barged out to DonJon’s dewatering station near the Statue of Liberty for processing. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee, all photos by Mitch Waxman


Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

Independence day fireworks haven’t been on the East River since 2009. It will be a nice change to be able to see those bombs bursting in air from the Brooklyn/Queens and Manhattan waterfronts.

Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

An announcement will be made on the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights at 2 p.m. today. Read more at the New York Observer here…

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee

Ship spotters, there’s a new tug on the harbor!

Welcome Harley Marine NY‘s new tug HMS Justice. She joins HMS Liberty and HMS St. Andrews, providing petroleum transport services in NY Harbor.

Tug HMS Justice. Photo via

Marine Log: The 2,000 hp HMS Justice is the fifth vessel in this class and joins the New York fleet of two tugboats—HMS LIberty and  St. Andrews—and four 29,396 bbl double-hull petroleum barges. HMS Justice will provide petroleum barge transportation services in New York Harbor.

HMS Liberty. Photo by ©Will Van Dorp / tugster

Four of the vessels in this class—the Alamo, Fury, Silver and Stardust—are employed in the Harley Marine Gulf fleet. The vessels are each 75 feet in length, have a 29 foot 9 inch beam and a depth of 9 feet and 11 inches.

The vessel is equipped with two Tier II-compliant K38M Cummins engines producing 2,000 horsepower, two Cummins auxiliaries and Nabrico Hydro Electric DF-156-40-116-HEBK winches. Her design is well suited for the demands of harbor service with its “flanking rudder” technology.

HMS St. Andrews. Photo via Harley Marine.

Jonathan Mendes, interim General Manager of Harley Marine NY says, “The HMS Justice is a welcome addition to our growing New York operation. She will enhance our local business while servicing customers safely, reliably, efficiently and responsibly.”

Read more at Marine Log or download the full press release (PDF) here.

Anyone have photos of her yet? Post your shots in the WHC flickr Photo Pool!

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee,

Historic schooner Sherman Zwicker will be spending some time here in NY harbor over the summer as reported by Tribeca Citizen. The historic fishing vessel turned floating museum was once part of a fleet of hundreds of large wooden schooners that fished the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.

Historic schooner Sherman Zwicker. Photo courtesy Grand Banks Schooner Museum.

Grand Banks Schooner Foundation is bringing the last original saltbank fishing vessel to Tribeca’s Pier 25 for a summer of exhibitions, lectures and … libations alfesco on the Hudson River.

The 142 foot long schooner will host a raw bar on deck called Grand Banks run by Mark Firth of Brooklyn’s Diner and Marlow & Sons, that will serve local oysters and other small delectables.

Image via Tribeca Citizen

Community Board 1 has given their liquor license application the nod and the Hudson River Park Trust is finalizing the details. If all goes according to schedule, the wooden schooner will be open June 1st for cocktails and bluepoints on the Hudson. Read more at Tribeca Citizen here…

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee, hat tip to Bonnie Frogma for the intel


Well, as luck would have it, NO photos of the USS Slater arriving at Caddell’s Staten Island.

She departed Albany, Sunday morning at about 8:45 AM; and arrived and turned into the Kill van Kull at 3:30AM Monday. Not a good time for photography! I hope to be able to get some photos of her soon, and so here are this week’s photos.

Reinauer was the big mover on Wednesday morning, 5 of them. Also, US Army Corps of Engineers boats were on the job in the KVK. Strangely though, while I was there, NO Moran, McAllister or Vane tugs passed by.

Stephen Scott Reinauer at IMTT Bayonne. Photo: ©John Skelson

Zachery Reinauer in Push Gear, Stephen Scott in the background. Photo: ©John Skelson

Ruby M, dropping a barge in Bayonne. Photo: ©John Skelson

Reinauer Twins outbound in the KVK. Photo: ©John Skelson.

Meredith C Reinauer west in the KVK. Photo: ©John Skelson

Maersk Kentucky. Photo: ©John Skelson

USACE Hudson. Photo: ©John Skelson

USACE Hocking. Photo: ©John Skelson

USACE Hayward. Photo: ©John Skelson

Haggerty Girls. Photo: ©John Skelson

Emily Ann, ex Brandon C Roehrig. Photo: ©John Skelson

Until next week… John Skelson.

All photos by John Skelson for the Working Harbor Committee

The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that captain error caused the Seastreak ferry accident in lower Manhattan last year. The investigation found the vessel was being operated improperly at the time of the accident.

A hole is torn near the bow of the Seastreak Wall Street ferry after it crashed into the pier on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. photo: Larry Neumeister/AP via NY Daily News


The Seastreak Wall Street ferry captain had switched the vessel’s propulsion systems into backup mode earlier in the journey and had forgotten to switch them back. While in backup mode, the propellers remain in a forward pitch position which caused the vessel to accelerate forward rather than slow down while attempting to dock.

NTSB Investigator examines starboard engine room of the Seastreak Wall Street. Photo: NTSB

NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman also called out the US Coast Guard for not requiring marine safety management systems – recommended by the NTSB almost a decade ago.

 NTSB: Seastreak LLC had no safety management system (SMS) in place to identify risks and take corrective actions. Although the NTSB recommended that SMS be required in 2005 and the Coast Guard was provided the authority to require them by Congress in 2010, SMSs are still not required for domestic passenger vessels. It is time to require that every passenger vessel implement an SMS.”

Deborah Hersman, NTSB Chairman. Photo: NTSB via wikipedia

A safety management system would have required the company to maintain current documents, to train employees to integrate safe practices into both routine vessel operations and emergency preparations and to clearly define the roles of the crew members, ensuring the captain had assistance during the emergency.

Photo via Maritime Executive

The report goes on to contribute the severity of injuries to the lack of procedures restricting passengers from stairwells and other high-risk areas. There was also no alarm sounded or announcements from the captain to inform the passengers of an emergency.

Read the NTSB Press Release here… or download the PDF summary – including findings, probable cause and recommendations here.

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee

USS Cole. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class James Elliott via wikipedia

The US Navy has announced that 3 Naval ships and 2 Coast Guard cutters will be here (May 21-27) in New York harbor to celebrate Fleet Week New York 2014!

USS Oak Hill. U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Cory Torres via wikipedia

Last years Fleet Week celebrations were cancelled due to the budget sequestration, so we are extra excited to see the fleet return this year.

USCG Katherine Walker. Photo via USCG

USS Cole (DDG 67), USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) and USS Gettysburg (CG 64) will be joined by cutter USCG Campbell (WMEC 909) and the “Keeper of New York Harbor”, cutter USCG Katherine Walker (WLM 552).

Check Fleet Week New York for continuing updates and info on all the events.

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee


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