Why Shipguy?

16Mar09

I get this question a lot actually. I use “shipguy” or some derivation of it for most of my email addresses and account log-ins.

No, I never served in the Navy.

I do not know how to sail.

I do not own a boat.

I am not in the merchant marine.

Yes, I have been at sea – but only for vacation cruises.

Here’s the thing, I like ships…really, really big ships. Steel ships – military, container, tanker, bulk you name it, if it’s a steel hulled ship, I like it. I have built model ships on and off all my life and it’s always models of steel ships.

I can certainly appreciate the wonders of a tall ship, the grace of the sails, the intricacy of the rigging and the shear guts it takes to sail one out of sight of land. But, they’re not for me. I can’t model them. I’ve tried more than a few times and, frankly, the rigging drives me nuts. Having to tie yard after yard of the finest thread all over a very delicate model is torture for me.

Some of my favorite ships – and, really, how many folks even have a list of “favorite ships?”

USS Enterprise CVN-65 – the first nuclear aircraft carrier in the world. A badass ship if ever there was one.

USS Massachusetts BB-59 – The queen of Battleship Cove. I’ve crawled all over this ship since I was a kid and even had the pleasure of standing underneath it while she was in dry dock. Let me tell you, nothing says big until you’re reaching up to grasp a  propeller blade.

NS Savannah – Probably the most graceful steel ship to ever sail the seas. She was a test bed for the use of nuclear power in commercial ships. I saw her once in New York harbor – and I was struck by her sleek lines and beauty.

USS Fitch DMS 25 – a little destroyer turned mine sweeper. One of the few vessels to fight at Pearl Harbor, D-Day and be in Tokyo Bay for the end of the war. My father-in-law served on her for several years. I broke his heart when I callously told him she had been sunk as a target by the air wing of the USS Forrestal.  “They sank my Fitch?” he asked. Dad, as cold as it might be, it’s a better way to go than being turned into razor blades.

MV Columbo Bay – I read a book about a journalist who spent 5 months aboard this ship. It was a fascinating story about a very routine occurrence. The Columbo Bay is a container ship – the most unglamorous of all ships. But, by God, she is massive. Picture a shipping container – 40’ long – about the size of the trailer from an 18-wheeler. Columbo Bay carries over 3,000 of these shipping containers and that’s a lot of stuff to haul around the globe.

Those are the ones that pop into my head immediately. I’m sure as soon as I post this, I’ll think of 10 more.

That’s me with the tan jacket and white hard hat.
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