Imagination relayed doesn't
always work, not unless it falls on ears tuned into making a buck, and have
the resources to get the ball rolling. It's hard to find such ears, they
surely don't travel in my circles, or vice versa, rather. I was on a letter
kick with the newspapers back then, and it spilled over to the Capital. It
ended after this transmittal, thank goodness...I found the Internet.
131348Z FEB 96
I have been
retired for some years now from the U.S. Navy's Military
Sealift Command. I
retired as Captain, being in that position for 21 years.
My total time spent
at sea was 37 years.
Being rather unique, especially
now-a-days, I only worked in one (1)
vocation, and that of seaman.
Fortunately, years back, a young fellow could
do that, and retire from it
too. Here are some thoughts from an apolitical,
One might say, that, with the
NASA complex, and all the ancilliary
businesses related to and supportive of
it, that this is a rather hi-tech
area, and be right. Though there are many
who work at hi-tech jobs, there
are also many who work at the lesser
mechanics of such a state, the ones
with the "right stuff" of the
past age - the industrial age.
Remember when "hard
ware" meant just that - tools, fittings, etc.?
It still means that,
though to more and more of us it means computer parts.
from different ages.
We fool ourselves with these
"ages", thinking the transition from one
to the other negates the
former, saddly, demeaning it.
No industry more aptly
reflects this than ship building and repair,
which belongs in the category of
Such an industry now has the stygma of a
toxic waste dump...not in my
backyard. Here's where our
"hi-tech-conditioning" obfuscates reality.
Because we haven't seen
a state of the art shipyard, only our idle and
left to die relics, do we have
A modern, state of the art shipyard is
comparable to airplane manuf-
acturing plants in esthetics, and environmental
Large ships are actually constructed inside
environmentally controlled conditions, each completely
emerging as the vessel gets longer, until finally, when the
last of the
vessel is shoved-out, making its debut by smoothly slipping
its awaiting environment and sailing majestically
Such a structure, and a ship is a structure, is a
very complex and
demanding work of art, requiring the expertise of legions of
craftsmen, designers, engineers, technicians, laborers, and yes -
types for control systems, etc..
It is a labor
intensive endeavour, employing literally thousands,
scanning all levels of
ability and aptitude.
We seem to forget that to lose the
industrial edge, we put ourselves
at the mercy of others to fix or build
things for us.
Aside from military vessels, we have done
just that to ourselves.
Merchant (civilian-type) vessel contstruction in this
country has literally
ground to a halt.
The reason for
this can be simply explained. Foreign built ships are
cheaper to buy, for
now. I say for now, because, if our ship-building
up-dated, or given a chance to up-date, like the automobile
could build ships faster, better, and cheaper, then any other
earth. With automation, which we never applied to ship-building,
modular technology, and new materials we hadn't had before, and lastly,
computer design and planning concept used in air-craft manufacture, we
beat any competition.
We need to get back to the previous
age, the industrial age. We need
to revive this age in order to meld
our high tech advantage with it.
Why, it's not just for
ships. It is estimated that we are facing a
$3 trillion repair bill for
our highway infrastructure - bridges, tunnels,
That's not to renew it, just fix-up what's there.
will have to high-technize our heavy industry, or, call in some
to do it for us cheaper.
That's ridiculous! With all
the young people we have in college today,
and most of them facing
un-employment upon graduation, so the media tells us,
what are they being
taught? I have a gut feeling that most of them have
gotten some bum
guidance. It looks to me like alot of youngsters are being
dream jobs in business management, advertising, marketing, and
attractions of entertainment, and sports. There's nothing wrong
these, except, these fields are saturated.
We need to
graduate engineers, technicians, hands-on construction
professionals. Those short of college, and many still in college
dream jobs, need vocational schools, and training. Bring back
With the condition this
country is in structurally, we shouldn't have any
shouldn't be any kids hanging out on street corners, or
in bars. This
country should be so busy, most of us would be in bed by
In fact, with the brains and technology we have, we
should be building
ships, bridges, buildings, etc. for
I believe, if we wanted to, we could outdo anybody
anything better, cheaper, and faster...right here in this
So, it behoves us, if we care for our youngsters, to
provide them with a
realistic education they can sink their teeth into.
Start considering, and
setting apart a heavy-industrial park, so to speak,
contingent with our port
facilities for maximum support and
utilitization...open to the sea...open to
Pretty soon, we are going to have three of
the world's largest ships
home-ported here. They won't be built here,
unfortunately, but there is no
reason we can't fix or maintain them
Here's my proposal. Listen up Uncle Sam. I
need the north end, and
the west side of the Navy's trident basin. I will
also need about $300
million. Well, not me personally, the not yet
established Maritime Refractory
Administration - MRA - will. I want to
built a graving-dock ( dry dock ) into
the north end large enough for the
Phoenix World City, and a wet dock along
the west side of the trident
basin. I will need a minimal of property
encompassing the docks for
shops, lofts, cranes, etc., required in this
Once built, the MRA will lease the dock to the Port for $1 per
The Port will administer the dock, using revenues
realized - to maintain
the facility - by sub-leasing to qualified
contractors. Contractors will
be selected using a bidding process, with
the first right to refusal given to
local contractors. Local contractors
means a bonified resident business with
resident employees. No fly-by-night
The dock (graving dock) will be kept dry
while engaged or not. Topside
repairs/maintainance will be done at the
wet dock. Tasks requiring drydocking
will be executed promptly. The
graving dock will never be used as a wet
National defense interests take preference. Emergencies will get
consideration. The port's resident cruise lines will get top priority
scheduling and repairs, if...they remain loyal to the
Now, all I need to do is establish the MRA, get $300
million from Uncle
Sam, convince the Navy to release the property, and get
the port to accept
the challenge. That's all. Nothin' to it.
Remember that old song?
- We did it before, and we can do it again.
So, I once knew eighty different knots, and could navigate a ship around
the world, but I don't have diddly funds, and know no one important. I think
I have a handle on what this world, and nation needs, as you do, but I'm
either too chicken to speak out, or haven't been "called" yet. Ha Ha.
I did get a favorable response to my letter above, it being passed on to a
senator, who passed it on to the Maritime Administration, who frightened
the daylights out of me intimating it was possible, and how to get the money.
Anyways, I don't think the Navy would have released that property, and I
have too much fun just thinking about things. Note in the upper-most drawing
where the "drydock" still exists...I named it after myself - "Carl II".