11 October 2011

Last docking for MV Spanky Paine and MV Honcho:

Historic, but derelict, ships to be salvaged for new recycled use of steel

Work began Monday cleaning the M/V Spanky Paine and the M/V Honcho to prepare them for scrapping and eventual recycled use on the international metals market.

Peninsula Scrap and Salvage are the new owners of the derelict ships, after the City of Homer handed over the titles in an agreement to salvage materials on the ships. It’s a good deal for the Homer Port and Harbor, and the end of a long quest to rid the harbor of derelict ships whose moorage fees aren’t paid even while they claim prime dock space.

HOMER TRIBUNE/Naomi Klouda - Peninsula Scrap and Salvage foreman Kevin Hatten stands before the M/V Honcho with the M/V Spanky Paine in the background. Both are set for salvage by the company

“We’re getting the last commercial value out of them by breaking them down,” said Harbor master Bryan Hawkins. It also means the ships’ salvageable parts aren’t going to be wasted.

Hawkins is asked why the harbor doesn’t scuttle old ships, but explains that’s not always an option.

“Scuttling is a long process, and they have to be certified clean. That’s pretty tough when there are lead-based paints, not just oils. It’s pretty extensive what you have to go through,” Hawkins said.

Kevin Hatten, the project foreman for Peninsula Scrap, said people interested in the ships have stopped by for a last look. A few have asked for the antique portholes.

Spanky Paine, right, is moored next to the Honcho, left, at the Homer Harbor

“I tell them, if they want a porthole, make a donation of $99 to the Pratt Museum or the Sea Life Center, and I will save them one,” Hatten said.

The Homer Playground Project is interested in one of the Spanky Paine’s giant cleats, which Hatten said they will try to salvage for them.

The Spanky Paine, originally called the USRC Calumet, had a grand history stretching 117 years. The Honcho is more of a mystery.

“I was told she barged vehicles between Seattle and Honolulu at some point. It would be good to find out a lot more about her,” Hatten said.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard registry of ships, the Honcho was built in 1943. Where and why isn’t recorded.

The Spanky Paine was one of the steel-hulled steamships by celebrated shipbuilder David Bell of Buffalo, N.Y.

The Spanky Paine, a 115-year-old steel tugboat that fought for the U.S. Navy in the Spanish American War, sits abandoned in the Homer Harbo

The Calumet was sold to the U.S. government for $38,500 and was commissioned Oct. 18, 1894 for service on the Great Lakes, stationed out of Chicago. The ship was then transferred to the Navy during the Spanish American War in 1898. There, she served with the North Atlantic Squadron, shouldering two mounted guns in her main battery.

She was commanded by 1st Lt. W. H. Cushing of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, operating on vital coastal patrol duty to guard against the possible approach of enemy ships.

The vessel was commissioned for service with the Navy again during World War I, where she hauled war supplies and troops. Following the war, she was transferred back to the U.S. Treasury Department in 1919 and renamed “Tioga” in 1934. Tioga was transferred to the Navy for a third time during World War II.

The Navy decommissioned the Tioga on Oct. 14, 1946, and sold it months later to the New Haven Towing Co. of New York. There, the tug was then given its third name: the “John F. Drews.”

The “John F. Drews” sold again into private ownership in 1950 to the Whaling City Dredge and Dock Corp. of Groton, Conn. That same year, she caught fire off New Haven, Conn., in Long Island Sound while being towed to Groton. The wooden cabins and the superstructure were completely burned, and in the rebuild, the steam engine was converted to diesel. The ship was then sold in 1958 to C.A. Pitts General Contractor, Ltd. of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Four years later, he sold it to the Merritt-Chapman and Scott Corp. of Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1967, the ship was sold again, this time to the Dunbar and Sullivan Dredging Co. of Detroit, Mich. It was renamed the “William J. Dugan,” and then bought at auction by Bob Billington. Billington sold the vessel to its Alaska owner after being renamed “Spanky Paine” by Fred Paine of Superior, Wisc. “Spanky” is believed to be a son’s nickname.

The ship left for Alaska in the late 1980s, where it worked a clean-up contract for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

After that chronology, not much on the Spanky Paine survives of its original. The steel hull looks like its been mended many times over. “See all those seams? That shows how many times they had to go over it for repairs. The hull is likely the only thing original still there,” Hatten points out. “Not many of the bells, lights or anything else remain.”

So far, about 300-400 gallons of waste oil are identified for removal on the Honcho. The Spanky Paine hasn’t been assessed yet. The winches from each tug is going to a local for refurbishing at a discounted price.

Hatten figures the project will take about a month to complete.

Source: Homer Tribune. By Naomi Klouda. 5 October 2011

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