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BS: The last sloped launch in Bath

Naemanson 14 Jun 01 - 01:04 PM
SINSULL 14 Jun 01 - 01:12 PM
jeffp 14 Jun 01 - 01:27 PM
Sourdough 14 Jun 01 - 04:14 PM
mousethief 14 Jun 01 - 04:31 PM
catspaw49 14 Jun 01 - 05:46 PM
sophocleese 14 Jun 01 - 10:46 PM
GUEST,John Gray / Australia 14 Jun 01 - 11:37 PM
wdyat12 15 Jun 01 - 12:36 AM
wdyat12 15 Jun 01 - 12:40 AM
Naemanson 15 Jun 01 - 06:07 AM
Gervase 15 Jun 01 - 08:53 AM
Charley Noble 15 Jun 01 - 05:01 PM
SINSULL 15 Jun 01 - 05:03 PM
Joe Offer 15 Jun 01 - 05:16 PM
wdyat12 15 Jun 01 - 05:21 PM
YOR 15 Jun 01 - 05:50 PM
Naemanson 15 Jun 01 - 06:07 PM
jets 16 Jun 01 - 12:09 AM
wdyat12 18 Jun 01 - 11:49 AM
jets 18 Jun 01 - 04:57 PM
wdyat12 19 Jun 01 - 01:04 AM
wdyat12 23 Jun 01 - 11:28 AM
Naemanson 23 Jun 01 - 12:58 PM
Sourdough 23 Jun 01 - 01:21 PM
wdyat12 26 Jun 01 - 12:36 AM
wdyat12 26 Jun 01 - 01:00 AM
GUEST 07 Apr 03 - 03:09 AM
Dave Bryant 07 Apr 03 - 05:32 AM
Charley Noble 07 Apr 03 - 09:20 AM
kendall 07 Apr 03 - 04:48 PM

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Subject: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: Naemanson
Date: 14 Jun 01 - 01:04 PM

On June 23, 2001, Bath Iron Works will launch the USS Mason, an Aegis Destroyer. This will be the last time they slide a ship down the ways and into the water. They have a new facility where they build the ship on level ground, roll it into a drydock, and then lower it into the water.

Ships have been built in this area for the last 393 years and this is just another innovation but the transition is difficult to accept. If you haven't seen a traditional ship launch it may not mean much but it is very exciting. The new ship slides down into the water and floats for the first time. As she goes all the surrounding ships and boats sound their whistles and horns while in the town and the 'yard the fire whistles blow. There is great excitement as the tugs struggle to capture the new baby and wrestle her into the pier. Wind and tide can have a great influence on this struggle and more than once a new ship has almost gotten away from them.

I will have a great opportunity to participate in this last launch. I have an invitation to join the Wedge Rally early that morning. We will assemble under the ship and drive in huge wedges that will raise her from the cradle and prepare her to slide down the ways. Later in the afternoon we will be able to assemble in the 'yard and listen to the speeches, watch the champaigne smash against the bow and cheer as she slides into the water.

And to keep this musical I plan to sing shanties while pounding on the wedges. At least until I run out of breath.

Anyone want to join me? I might be able to get one person in with me.


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: SINSULL
Date: 14 Jun 01 - 01:12 PM

Damn, Brett. Isn't that Old Songs weekend?


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: jeffp
Date: 14 Jun 01 - 01:27 PM

Damn, Brett, I wish I didn't live so far away. That sounds like a great thing to be a part of. I suspect that a lot of Mudcatters will be with you in spirit.

jeffp


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: Sourdough
Date: 14 Jun 01 - 04:14 PM

I would be very interested in as much details of the launch (how the wedges are driven, how man, how much time is involved, etc.) This fits in with a project of mine and I would love to know more about how a launch is accomplished.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: mousethief
Date: 14 Jun 01 - 04:31 PM

Cool stuff! Wish I could be there!

Alex


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: catspaw49
Date: 14 Jun 01 - 05:46 PM

Sing and swing all you like Brett.......Just remember to stand upslope.

I too want to hear all about it.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: sophocleese
Date: 14 Jun 01 - 10:46 PM

"The admiral's daughter broke the champagne bottle against the bows and slid gracefully down the slipway."

One of my favourite sentences from a book of misprints and other goofs.


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: GUEST,John Gray / Australia
Date: 14 Jun 01 - 11:37 PM

Here in Oz most of our warships are built by the Tenix shipyard at Williamstown, a few kilometres from Melbourne. Working for one of the suppliers to the shipbuilding programme, I get invitations to every launch. Yeah, pretty stirring stuff to see them sliding down with all the whistles & sirens going and all the crowd yelling & cheering. Especially so at the launch of a warship with everyone aware that it will be home to a crew of young sailors and will have to protect them in tempest & battle. Being ex-navy I always come away with a tear in my eye.

JG/FME.


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: wdyat12
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 12:36 AM

Brett,

I will be there pounding wedges too. This will be the third time for me. As a special honor to workers who have just past the 20 year mark in the shipyard, I was invited to pound wedges for the last ship down the ways. I am pretty excited about this event and Maggie will be there with me. She's pretty excited too. Maybe we can all get on the same crew together.

My great grandfather was at the launching of the Battleship Georgia in 1908 in his naptha launch the Black Fox. He picked up the King Wedge as it floated by in the Kennebec. We still have this shipbuilding artifact in a place of honor by the hearth.

Several years later after the launch of the Georgia, the Black Fox blew up on it's way down River from Bath and sent my great grandfather and great uncle into the icey waters of the Kennebec. Naptha engines were known to be a little dangerous, especially if they sprang a fuel line. A school teacher from Phippsburg saw the catastrophe from shore. She swam out to save both of them and then swam back out and retrieved what she could of the remains of the Black Fox. We have these artifacts on display also. Our family is forever greatfull to that school teacher who risked her life to save the lives of Edward and Theodore Stewart.


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: wdyat12
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 12:40 AM

...wdyat12


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: Naemanson
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 06:07 AM

Great Woody! I expect to have my daughters with me.

It seems like it will be quite a crowd down there. I'm amazed they can get any work done.


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: Gervase
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 08:53 AM

Lucky sod!
I've been to one launch - of a small minesweeper at the Vosper-Thornycroft yard at Lowestoft - and it was an unforgetable experience; all those thousands of hours of work and hope being committed to a new element for the first time, the awesome sense of the sheer bulk of the ship as she goes down the slip with the huge drag chains rattling away...
Enjoy it - I wish I could be there with you.


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 05:01 PM

I love the image of the admiral's daughter sliding down the slipway...maybe there's a song!

If anyone can launch an Aegis Destroyer, it's got to be Brett. He's always on key.


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: SINSULL
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 05:03 PM

wdyat12 - that is an amazing story. I didn't realize there were naphtha engines - for obvious reasons. Were your family members hurt? Did the papers cover the rescue? Must have been some lady.


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 05:16 PM

Click here for the website of Bath Iron Works, and here for the article on the Mason. Wish I could see the launch.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: wdyat12
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 05:21 PM

The first time I pounded wedges to "lift the ship," it was before dawn in a drizzling cold spring rain back in the mid eighties of the 20th century. Rain was dripp[ng off the massive hull of a frigate and the crews that were assembled from midship aft were spared this bone chilling nuisance. Brett, if it's raining on the June 23, 2001, get a site aft under the hull. You will also experience the shear weight of the vessel if you are under it and it seems dangerous and even more exciting. The comaraderie you feel with all your fellow workers focused on one simple yet colosal task is exhilerating! The vollies are short, but seem endless as we strike the ramming irons in unison against the wedges along both sides of the hull to bring her up even. The rest periods always seem a bit short, but adrenalin is in the air and you just feel like getting the job done. No other task in the shipyard makes the workers from all the trades feel as proud as "lifting the ship" for launch.

wdyat12


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: YOR
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 05:50 PM

Years ago I visited Bath and remember that hugh crane in the middle of the yard. You can see that thing from miles away, cool. How big/tall is that monster? Too bad I did not have the time for the tour, we visited the town, the water front, dinner and left. I was on buisness at the NAS in Brunswick.

Shhhh! Both places are secret.

I'll have to go to Norfolk sometime for a launch. Or, do they still build ships in Philly?

Enjoy, sounds like fun. SPLASH!!!!!!

Roy


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: Naemanson
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 06:07 PM

Roy,

NASB is not too secret. I work there.

That huge crane has a limited future. Now that the slips have been decommissioned I imagine the yard will be selling that crane off soon. It will seem strange not to see it hulking over the town.

Brett


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: jets
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 12:09 AM

I have been part of several launchings at Bath. I was the guy standing on the bow of the Tug with the heaving line with the task of getting the line to the ship before the wind took it into the bridge. I will admit that I was a little nervous the first time I did it.But I never missed.


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: wdyat12
Date: 18 Jun 01 - 11:49 AM

jets,

You still workin' on "the little tug that could?"

wdyat12


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: jets
Date: 18 Jun 01 - 04:57 PM

I worked on the tugs back in the early 60s .


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: wdyat12
Date: 19 Jun 01 - 01:04 AM

jets,

Did you ever work on the little tug Kennebec? Do you remember Hayden Temple? "Lovely Day."

wdyat12


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: wdyat12
Date: 23 Jun 01 - 11:28 AM

Maggie and I just got back from the wedge driving ceremony for the Aegis Destroyer USS Mason. What a rush! We were able to sneak Maggie's sister Susan and her friend Will into the wedge driving crew about midship under the hull where we all drove wedges for a three minute rally in the rain. We took lots of pictures. I will send some along when I get them developed. There was a large turnout for the event and I didn't meet up with Naemanson, but I think I heard him singing a chanty down the line. We are going back this afternoon for the launch to watch the USS Mason go down the ways and hit the water for the first time. That will be the ultimate rush.

wdyat12


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: Naemanson
Date: 23 Jun 01 - 12:58 PM

Last week's trip to Virginia left me wiped and I didn't go. Tomorrow I leave for Pennsylvania and I have a small family gathering at my house today so it didn't fit into the schedule.

I am sorry to have missed it but I am busier than the proverbial one armed paper hanger so it is good I didn't go.


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: Sourdough
Date: 23 Jun 01 - 01:21 PM

wdyat12 - thank you for the brief description. It left me wanting more. I am very curious about the launching details. The wedges that you drove, was the purpose to lift the entire ship off the supporting structure so that an undercarriage could go in on which the ship would slide down the ways. Once that is done, what holds the ship in place? They must grease the ways at some point. When is that? What actually triggers the ship's movement? Any details like that would be welcomed.

I am surprised that sloped launches are being done at all in a modern shipyard. It is interesting that a modern warship containing such high technology would be built on such an old-fashioned way. I had assumed that shipbuilding on sloped ways was both more uncomfortable an innefficient for the work crews and more expensive for the contractor. When you have a chance, I would love to hear in as much detail as you can what the launch was like.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: wdyat12
Date: 26 Jun 01 - 12:36 AM

Sourdough,

Driving the wedges between the cradle blocks on the ways lifts the hull to free the keel blocking. The cradle rides with the ship down the ways when the trigger mechanism is pulled. The ways are convex or bowed to allow the ship to float off the cradle as she rides down the ways into the Kennebec River. Grease is applied to the ways under the cradle before the cradle blocking is put in place and the hull segments are lifted into place on the keel, a year and a half for some sections before the launch. It takes from three to four days after a launch at Bath Iron Works for the launch grease to float down river and wash up on Popham Beach 12 miles down stream. Popham Beach is the location where the first ship built in America, The Virginia of Sagadahoc, was launched in 1607. Many of the decendents of these first shipbuilders have worked in shipyards on the Kennebec for generations and some of their decendents buit the USS Mason and were present at the wedge driving ceremony and the last sloped launch at Bath, Maine, on June 23, 2001.

wdyat12


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: wdyat12
Date: 26 Jun 01 - 01:00 AM

Oh! BTW the last launch down the ways was a spectacular event! When the trigger was pulled the USS Mason rushed into the water at breakneck speed leaving all on shore in absolute aw. As far as I could see, the launch went without a hitch, except the speeches by prominent dignitaries were obviously shortened to allow the launch to proceed at exactly slack tide. This was the most exciting launch I have ever witnessed. Launches will never be the same.

wdyat12


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Apr 03 - 03:09 AM

charley Noble says, "I love the image of the admiral's daughter sliding down the slipway...maybe there's a song!"

Charley, there is a 1940s song that goes, "The admiral's daughter was waiting by the water; she wants to ride his dinghy."


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 07 Apr 03 - 05:32 AM

See this Alex Glasgow song All in a Day - it's a song which manages to say a lot about the launching of a ship in only a couple of verses.


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Apr 03 - 09:20 AM

That's a nice one, Dave. Thanks for the link!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: The last sloped launch in Bath
From: kendall
Date: 07 Apr 03 - 04:48 PM

I wonder how many plow Shares you could make with the steel of one destroyer?


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Mudcat time: 7 June 6:21 AM EDT

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