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Mason County Memories


"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus" ~ Mark Twain


History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News



david k petersen

American Shipbuilding Company History Column Dave Petersen This small group of ships shows that the American Shipbuilding Company was up to the challenge of building any type of ship from the Palatial cruise ships to oil tankers and tugboats. It seems that no contract was too big or too small whether you wanted to transport railcars, a million gallons of oil or you needed a fish tug. There were a number of their ships that were built to service interests in and about our immediate area such as the PM 17 which we showcased last week. When the 1915 catalog was printed there was a plethora of ships and shipping on the Great Lakes, many types of vessels were needed and boat building was an important part of the economy. Even Ludington had it boat building factory in the form of the Giles Boat Works which became Stearns Motors. There are very few examples left of the once proud fleet of ships that traversed the waters of the Great Lakes. Many exist only in photographs and fewer yet in memories. That is why the preservation of our Maritime history and ships like the Badger, Muskegon Clipper and the City of Milwaukee are so important. If you have stories or photographs you would like to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240 or davep@lackcreekpress.com. Mail should be sent in care of the Ludington Daily News Po Box 340 Ludington Mi 49431. Pic -1 Fire Tug William A. McGonagle Quotes from the Amercan Shipbuilding Company's 1915 catalog "For harbor and fire dock service> This vessel is 120 feet long and equipped with two fourteen inch turbine driven centrifugal fire pumps, capable of delivering 12,000 gallons of water at 150 pounds of pressure. Both pumps working together will deliver 6000 gallons at 300 pounds pressure. This boat is one of two which were built for fire protection for the great ore docks of Lake Superior. An innovation on the McGonagle which is worthy of note is a jet steering gear for turning and maneuvering quickly in cramped spaces. " Pic 2 Tugboat Favorite The Favorite really was, the ship was well known through out the Great Lakes and was well known on the Ludington area as well. The Favorite was built in 1907 and at 180 feet in length was a powerful wrecking tug. The crane can be seen clearly on the deck. The favorite is listed as owned by US interests up until 1948 when it was purchased by Peru for the Peruvian Navy in 1948. Pic3 Comet "One of five similar vessels for the Standard Oil Company. Built under Lloyds survey for first class of bulk oil carriers for ocean service, a capacity of 1,000,000 gallons. These boats are divided into separate tanks by a series of cross bulkheads as well as a fore anda ft center bulkhead by means of a complicated system of piping connected to two large pumps installed forward. These tanks are loaded or unloaded simultaneously or separately. Different types of oil may be carried in these tanks or a complete cargo as may be required. These ships are built on the Isherwood system of hull construction." Pic 4 Forward Deck of the Comet "This illustrates very clearly the intricate work involved in the construction of an oil tank steamer. The expansion tanks are the prominent feature on deck and the flying bridge from aft to forward is also pictured." Pic 5 Aft deck of the Comet The Comet has an overall length of 260 feet and was built in 1913. The Comet had a series of five different owners from 1913 to 1973 and was renamed once when in Mexican ownership to Cometa. Pic 6 Engine of the Comet Not something you would want to put in your Cris Craft. This is a powerful engine for its time and a durable one as it served the Comet for 6 decades.

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