Newsletter Masthead - 34KB

[August 1998]


[October 1998]

Sorry the Newsletter is late this month.  Georges caused a few problems.

Here is the latest progress update on our boat:

Planking is 100% complete.

Cargo bay foundations complete.

The skeg is complete and has been dry fit.

The hole for the shaftlog / shaft has been drilled.

The strut / rudder / maneuvering rudder / main rudder have been check fit.

The plan now is to remove the skeg, strut, shaft log etc. (EVERYTHING comes off the hull, down to the bare planks...) and begin construction of the "crate" for rollover.  These components will be re-installed after the hull is right side up.  We have decided to roll the hull ASAP, even before we install the scuffing planking (a small sacrificial patch of planking forward which took the brunt of wear during landings).  Our problem is that we are beginning to have more workers available than we have work to do - with the boat upside down.  We have work for six people now, and 25 as soon as we turn her over.

Once the hull is right side up, progress will accelerate exponentially.  The actual roll over will likely be done during the week, so we can get forklift assistance from the Orleans Levee District and Sheriff Foti.  Dave Sintes will be in charge of the operation.  Dave has done this before (and none of us have...) so Dave has agreed to help.  THANKS AGAIN DAVE!

By the way, Dave is working with MIKE HOWELL (infamous skipper of the M/V MANANA) to come up with a design for the boat cradle.  It ought to be a real beaut.

We are beginning to build the foundations for the engine.  Bruce Harris will do most of this work at his shop.  We will use Gueydan's special breed of treated pine lumber, all according to plans of course.

Joey Madere has been diligently working on our engine mount system.  He located the original FABREEKA mount material!!!  Additionally, Joey has fabricated the mount hardware at his machine shop.  As usual, Joey is staying way ahead of things.

The Graham Haddock / Joey Madere shaft hole drilling system worked!!!  It took 5 guys all day to do it, but the job we were all worried about is done.  The big bonus is that the hole is in the right place!  From what we learned, there is room for process improvement.  Everything was noted so we'll remember the next time we go through this  (that was a joke).

Did everybody see the UNO 40th anniversary section of the Times Picayune last week?  There was a great picture of Dr. Richard Warren at the boat.  Good recognition of the project here! UNO is proud of us for sure.  Lookin' good Doc!

Karen Reisch and LT Glynn Smith, USCG have been working on planning for the christening. The DATE should be announced very soon.  An awful lot of planning goes into choosing a date... We're looking like mid OCT to mid NOV 1999.  Initially we wanted a June christening, but it is just too HOT for an outdoor event in New Orleans.  We also have weather concerns during the summer months.  The best weather will be during the time frame we have chosen.

The EHRHARDT GROUP (public relations consultants) of New Orleans has signed on with our team, and they will be assisting Karen and Glynn in planning the christening event.  Ms. Joy Patin will be our point of contact with that firm.  We are glad to have the advice and assistance this fine firm will offer.

Ron Swoboda is writing an article about us in the November issue of NEW ORLEANS MAGAZINE.  Ron has been very interested in our project since before we owned a board. He has REALLY spent some time researching our story while preparing his article.  Ron also brought a new volunteer to the project - Mr. Ronald Montelepre.  Ronald is a WW II USN corpsman who is very familiar with combat boat ops in Higgins boats.  He made an interesting comment to me, saying "the sound of the Higgins boat engine to the WWII what the sound of the helicopters was to the Vietnam vet..."  I've spoken to a number of WWII vets who agree.  Interesting comment and observation.

Jack Masey of Meta Form Inc (these are the people who are doing the actual design work for the museum display) came to town this month to see the boat.  Jack's involvement with Dr. Ambrose and the museum goes WAY BACK, and he has had some challenges keeping up with the ebb and flow of the display planning.  Jack has really been challenged to fit a full sized landing craft into the museum!  (SIDEBAR: We have to build an addition onto the museum to house the won't fit in the door.  Don't worry, I knew that.  We'll just build an addition onto the existing museum!)  So, Mr. Masey has a new "artifact" to deal with.  Additionally, he has to accommodate a bunch of folks who want to roll this full sized landing craft out every so often...AND USE IT!!!  Jack had to come here to see this to believe it, and boy did he!  My dream was always to display the boat with the bow ramp open, so people could BOARD it.  I want everybody to think about what it must have been like for our troops to HIT THE BEACH in one.  Masey agrees.  He said that walking aboard will be THE experience of visiting the National D-Day Museum.  Good.  Jack is a hell of a great guy.  He spent a lot of time inspecting and measuring the boat, and I feel he will do a great job incorporating it into the display.

Our builders have valid concerns over wear and tear on the boat with thousands trooping aboard, vandalism, etc.  I spoke to Masey about these fears and he agrees that these are valid concerns.  There are a number of measures we can take to ensure that we minimize wear and tear.  I'll be speaking personally to all of our builders to get their input on this subject.  The bottom line is that we can't glass-case it.  If we want to get the real message across, the boat has got to be an interactive display.

I worked  closely with Liz Williams of the UNO FOUNDATION to develop a resolution which was passed unanimously by the D-Day Museum board of directors.  The directors resolved that the boat is 100% wholly owned by the UNO FOUNDATION.  The foundation in turn has agreed to permanently display the boat in the museum.

The boat has now been married to the city of New Orleans effectively forever.  If by chance the museum should depart New Orleans (NOT ENVISIONED) the boat will stay here. Ownership of anything carries responsibilities and consequences.  In my opinion, we have taken the best course of action.  The UNO FOUNDATION tie-in has another benefit..Gordon Grant, of Montgomery, Barnett, Brown and Read (Higgins WWII counsel..) is working with the trust department of his firm (Mr. Pat Brown) to develop a Board of Trustees for the boat. This group of people will see to the long term best interests of the boat.  Care, use, maintenance and display issues abound.  The Higgins boat trustees will work very closely with the staff of the National D-Day Museum to protect what essentially will become a National treasure.  Setting this up properly will be a project in itself, but we will see it through.  The membership of this Board of Trustees will be carefully considered, and most of the members will be familiar names to all involved in the project.

Sometime in October, we will be visited by Mr. Lloyd Lovitt of Memphis Tennessee.  Mr. Lovitt was a Navy Lieutenant during WW II, and inspected vessels for the USN Bureau of Ships.  He was assigned to Higgins Industries in New Orleans during the war.  Mr. Lovitt would like to inspect our boat, and we certainly look forward to his visit.  What a great tie in to the past!  We've now got the original plans, an original designer (Mr. Haddock), the man who developed the doctrine for the boat's use (Mr. McDerby) and finally we've got the original inspector.  The bases are covered pretty well, I'd say!

Mr. Haddock has produced a repair order for the bow ramp, and OTECH will be in receipt of the ramp and the repair order very soon.  Jorge and Esteban Fernandez are ready to turn their crews loose on the ramp!  Mr. Haddock will accompany the ramp when we deliver it, so he can go over the repair specs with OTECH.  We will have reached another major milestone when the ramp is complete.

Sheriff Harry Lee has offered to help us with the fabrication of some steel engine foundation supports.  Thanks for helping us out, Sir!  Joey Madere will be coordinating the fabrication with the sheriff.

Here is our "needs" list for the month:

Could someone please take a sample of the bow ramp gasket from the Irish Bayou wreck, and try to locate a source of supply for new gasketing materials?

Anybody got any plastic owls we could put up at the boat to keep the %&#@! pigeons away?

We need a muffler system fabricated for the boat.  If anyone has ties to a machine shop which may be interested in assisting us, please contact me ASAP.

Any Bos'n mates out there?  We need two sets of mooring lines made up.  I'd like a set of double braided nylon lines for our use, and a set of natural fiber ones for the display at the museum.  Someone will have to do research as to correct diameter / length etc.  Back and eye splices please.  We need an anchor!  Research also required.            All for now,

[August 1998]

[News / Newsletters]

[October 1998]

[Higgins Industries]

[The LCVP Design]

[The Project]

[Photo Album]


[Museum Display]

[Become a Sponsor]


[Return to Higgins Boat Project Home Page]