|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
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 vet...is
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 boat...it 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
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 %&#@!
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
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,