This thread began in another, about old Aleutian freighters. The OP (an expert if ever there was one) noted about the fate of the original Aleutian freighters of the 1980s:
QUOTE][I]Slowly those old rides are disappearing into razor blades[/I]…[/QUOTE]
I might add: about the only way to dispose of the old YO and FS hulls, such as the Bowfin[I] is [/I]to melt them down. I can't think of any other hull as hard to kill. As others have noted, the hulls were built for the U.S. Army and Navy in 1944-1945, as harbor tender boats and small freighters. About 160' to 180' LOA x 32' beam. The YOs were oilers. The FSs were cargo tenders. The FS class also served as "mother ships" for landing craft operations after an initial amphibious attack. If you watch the old movie "Mister Roberts", the boat the movie plot revolves around is a FS used to supply a backwater island in the South Pacific. Based on the screenwriter's experience. So they did roam around the open Pacific as part of their original use. You can also read a novel called "Williwaw" written during the war. In it a FS is used as a freighter running around (of all places) the Aleutian islands. The novel's author served on one. YOs and FSs are extraordinarily tough. Built for war. They can take an incredible beating. They've withstood Gulf of Alaska storms for going on forty years. Not a comfortable ride in 20' to 40' seas, but then what is? "Survivability" has a comfort all its own. I found myself in more than one storm thanking the naval architect and shipyard that built the boat under me. Has a YO or FS hull broke up in a storm? I have never heard of it. if you know the GOA in winter you know storms. Don't trust me. Read the Coast Pilot... Where trouble was encountered was in converting the hulls to other uses. The YOs were a set of longitudinal oil tanks under a single weather deck, and are single screw. The FSs were a single cargo hold under a weather deck and are twin screw, single rudder. When converted to Alaskan-use, as processors, fishing boats, and freighters, a shelter deck was added on top of the weather deck, making the boat two decks high. Some times the wheelhouse had to be raised, to look over the new weather deck. All this additional weight could (not always) change the hydrodynamics, sometimes in quite negative ways. But then again, [I]all [/I]those conversions survived the Gulf of Alaska, too, though someone may correct me. Hard to disparage a boat that keeps bring you back alive no matter how many times you try to kill yourself... Melt them down quick or they might be around for another 70 years. Many were run aground on solid granite several times, repaired, and promptly put back to work. Example: one freighter side-swiped a rock going through Wrangell Narrows. Flooded into double bottoms. Boat took on list. Repaired in a shipyard. Back to work. Not so many trips later she heavily iced-up crossing the GOA in March. Took on a 40 degree list in 24 hours. Captain nearly ran it up on the beach at Chirikof Island purposely, to keep her from capsizing. Anchored at the last minute just outside the surf to give beating the ice off one last try. The crew spent 4 steady days chipping and beating ice to get the boat down to a 15 degree list. Gets to Chignik. Dock manager there is so horrified by what he sees he refuses to let the boat tie to the dock lest she capsize alongside. "Should have seen it couple of days and 150 miles ago", the crew says...They anchor out and chip ice for another two solid days. After which they complete the trip and just work cargo as usual. No drama... Not so many trips later a captain drives her over a reef, 40 miles from Dutch Harbor. Puts a tear in the hull about 100' long, nearly all the way from the bow to just forward of the ER bulkhead. Impact is so violent the manhole covers on the top of the double bottom are blown upwards into the lower cargo holds aft. Don't worry about an oil spill, because the oil floods into the cargo hold as the seawater floods up into the tanks. Rudder torn off. Both wheels severely damaged. Tons of water and fuel oil in the Lower 2 hold. Down by the head. What do you do? You go slow ahead on the engines and steer with what is left of the wheels, without a rudder, down Beaver Inlet and Baby Pass, 40 miles back to Dutch Harbor for repair. Boat back in action a couple months later, like nothing happened. That particular boat, by the way, was converted into a longliner (fishing boat) and is likely still working to this day. She may be working safely when many of the old salts reading this story are one with Ninevah and Tyre... The steel in the hulls seems to be superior in terms of corrosion resistance than what followed in peace time. Or it may be the fact that they were originally painted inside and out with lead paint, a coating often never completely removed in all the subsequent shipyard periods. Damp places like the forepeak and steering room are coated on the inside with something I believe was called "bitumastic"(somebody will give us the correct name). A black coating, tar-like in appearance though not sticky. Amazing stuff. After 50 years it is still keeping corrosion at bay (of course this in the PNW where rust works slower than in warmer climes). It laughs at removal by needle gun, if you are stupid enough to try. Where things rusted-out on the old freighters was everything added during "conversion": the shelter decks, new bulkheads, ER piping, rails, etc. Steel work often poorly designed and rarely with longevity in mind. So, a roller coaster ride, at best, in 20'-40' seas. Cramped. Poorly ventilated. Part submarine, part bronco. Yet the YO and FS freighters rode the GOA over 30 years and maintained a pretty tight cargo schedule due to a lot of dedicated crews. Not saints, not geniuses but [I]seamen[/I]. Those tiny, maligned boats always brought their crew home, when younger and bigger ships disappeared without a trace in more peaceful oceans. Old Alaskan hands like the OP and myself may not love the hulls but we certainly respect them. I have no desire to relive the experience of sailing on them but they bred tough, knowledgeable mariners and superb boat handlers ( commodities which, I realize, are not universally appreciated these days).