Page 14 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology - April 2020
P. 14

Reconnection with the Past:

                    Adventure on the Sun 800

                                                  by Carl Bachman Jr.

         This past Thanksgiving as with every year, the family got together for an oversized
         dinner, a few drinks and a lot of laughter. Inevitability, we gather in the family
         room, suffering from the effects of tryptophan and sit around reliving our glory
         days. Because my brother-in-laws and I all worked at various shipyards, our story
         telling always gets around to regaling our experiences of monumental feats in
         the industry. Each putting forth a story better than the last. I was highlighting a
         story about a very scary event that I was involved with back in the beginning of
         my career, when it was suggested that I should submit it to be used as an article
         in Wire Rope News. I was intrigued by the idea and the following is an attempt by
         a non-writer to share one of my holiday stories.

              he year was 1976,  I was in my   ship that carried the name Pennsylva-
              first  year  as  an  apprentice  at   nia Sun and all three were built at the
         TSun  Shipbuilding & Dry Dock      Chester Shipyard.
         Company  in Chester, PA. Everything   The  first  to  carry  the  name  was
         about my job  was  new  and fascinat-  launched  in  1921 and was  just  the
         ing. I looked forward to the challenges   42nd hull constructed at this site. This
         each day  brought. We were working   oil tanker was 480' long by 65'9" wide
         on a nineteen-year-old tanker built to   and some 12,880 deadweight tons.
         transport petroleum products for the   The second to carry the name was
         Sun  Oil Company. The ship was the   launched in 1938 and was the 168th
         610th hull  built at the shipyard and   vessel constructed. This  tanker was
         was  christened  the  SS  Pennsylvania   521' long by 70' wide and some 17,870
         Sun.  She was launched in 1957  with   deadweight tons. This particular name
         a length of 710' and weighed 30,000   sake  had  a  rich history  headlined  by
         deadweight tons. This  was the third   a German submarine (U571) attack

                                                                               The SUN 800 places the last unit for the Sug-
                                                                               ar Barge that was being built for Sun at Bath
                                                                               Iron Works in Maine. Photo courtesy of Rich Janney
                                                                               during World War II. A single torpedo
                                                                               was buried into her side in the Gulf of
                                                                               Mexico in July 1942 and it ignited the
                                                                               ship’s cargo of 107,000 barrels of fuel oil
                                                                               in flames. Amazingly, the flames were
                                                                               extinguished, and  the ship went on  to
                                                                               serve another 21 years after the attack.
                                                                                 The  current  Pennsylvania  Sun  was
                                                                               docked at the south yard pier for the
                                                                               second part of a long overdue upgrade.
                                                                               The  first  stage  of  the  repair  involved
         The worn out and abandoned floating drydock of the former Penn Ship Yard once lifted huge   lifting the ship out of the water using a
         ships out of the water for major repairs, circa 1990’s. Photo by Carl Bachman Jr.      continued on page 16
         14     Wire Rope News & Sling Technology   April 2020
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