Recently we were contacted by the son of a past client of Martin & Ottaway from the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Point Pleasant Beach is a few miles south along the New Jersey shore from our office, which is where, on February 12, 1900, the County of Edinburgh ran aground.
The vessel had very little damage, but then, as now, the stranding quickly became a tourist attraction.
When I wrote the blog on SWATHs I decided to see if I could locate my Virginia Tech research partner, Mark Tesh. With LinkedIn this was not all that difficult. He enjoyed hearing about the Monoform all these years ago, and remembered having taken photos back in 1981.
Except for the passenger ship terminal above 42nd street, commercial ship operations in Manhattan have pretty much come to an end.
One of the last commercial shipping terminals to be built on Manhattan was Marine and Aviation Pier 40. It was built in 1962 at a cost of $18 million expressly for the use of Holland America Line, which for the previous 73 years had docked at Hoboken. For its time, it was ultra modern and designed to handle passengers and cargo.
Holland America Line signed a 20 year lease at $1.2 million per year, but by 1966 the passenger trade was rapidly declining and cargo trade was containerizing which made Manhattan a terribly unsuitable location. In 1966 Holland America Line merged its cargo business into ACL and they moved to Port Newark in New Jersey, and around the same time the passenger ships moved to the passenger ship terminal.
Whenever my father passed the terminal he would tell me that this move was the worst real estate deal ever made by Dutchmen. Which means that Manhattan is both the location of the best Dutch real estate deal and the worst Dutch real estate deal ever.
Of all the shipping companies that I have had any contact with National Bulk Carriers and its Owner Daniel Ludwig is probably more deeply submerged in lore than any other company. Every time I meet somebody who has worked for NBC I am regaled with yet another story of clever derring do led by Daniel Ludwig and his team of engineers. NBC built the first ULCC's starting with the Universe Ireland. These 300,000 tonners moved crude from the Arab Gulf to Bantry Bay in Ireland.
M&O had occasional contact with NBC presenting claims and Henk van Hemmen, when he worked for the US Salvage Association, was deeply involved in risk management and start up issues with the Universe Tankers and Bantry Bay. I remember him describing the primitive conditions there in Bantry Bay when he returned from his first visit.
Oddly, very little is available on the web on these revolutionary vessels, but I did find this Pathe newsreel on the vessel.
But even more fun is this "Modern" shanty about the vessel.
Cold weather actually makes us busier. Cold weather makes people seek shelter so they pay less attention and cold weather makes equipment operate and fail in unusual fashion.
It has been cold out (we almost had iceboat conditions on the river) so there is no time to ruminate any further.
Instead I will post a few of Henk van Hemmen's drawings that I discovered in a sketch book a few weeks ago. They are dated 1987, and I think that was the year my parents took a cruise to Indonesia, hence the tropical themes. I suspect my father drew the type of ships he wished he had sailed on and used the available backgrounds. Or maybe he dreamed it all up on a cold day in New Jersey.
Ah, tropical latitudes; copra, hemp, spices, long port calls, warm breezes ........
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Harry Ottaway, past President of Martin & Ottaway, getting his balance on the SS SEA WITCH in drydock (stern section), August 2, 1979.
Watch a cool video produced in the 1940's by the US Navy on the salvage of the SS Normandie (USS Lafayette) here. Frank A. Martin of Martin & Ottaway valued this vessel for the US government before the fire/capsize.
Bethlehem Steel, Key Highway
Encounter with ice floe
Antarctica, March 1976
In 1954, my great-grandfather, Hendrik Fokko van Hemmen, was Chief Engineer on the M/V Prins Frederik Hendrik of the Oranje Lijn, and my grandfather, Henk van Hemmen, was deck engineer on the Dutch flagship, the SS Nieuw Amsterdam.