Thursday, June 1, 2017

The end of the road...


Well, the waterway.

The USS Independence, the last of the Forrestal-class of super-carriers (aircraft carrier) is scheduled into the Port of Brownsville today, the end of its 16,000 mile journey from Bremerton, Washington.  The carrier was decommissioned in 1998, after 39 years of service.  Too big to fit through the Panama Canal, it was towed around South America to make its way here, where it will be dismantled in Brownsville.

Here's what it looked like in service...


Coming in through the jetties today...


(Photo from the Brownsville Monitor newspaper)  There was a ceremony held at Dolphin Cove on South Padre Island as the ship entered the Brownsville Ship Channel.

No, we were not at that ceremony - we were out on Cool Change to see the aircraft carrier from the water.  Heading out, we passed this tug/barges, in the Port Isabel Turning Basin, waiting for the ship channel to clear.


Out into the ship channel, we could see the Independence from more than two miles away...


A beautiful day here in the Tropical Tip.  Joan packed us a bunch of stuff for lunch, not knowing how long we'd be out, waiting for the ship's arrival.



While waiting for the ship to get closer... yep, dolphins...




Looking back towards the carrier...






I can see where this is going to go: carrier... dolphins.  Dolphins... carrier.  Yeah, I'm good with that.  Back to the dolphins...






Might have been all the boat traffic, or it may have been the bottom of the ship channel getting stirred up by those big tugs towing the ship, but the dolphins were especially frisky today!





Carrier, getting closer...


Dolphins (yes, this is the order the photos were taken)...



The dolphins were close to us, but the carrier was coming our way...






That is a Coast Guard small boat coming at us.  He called out on his hailer, letting us know that we had to clear the channel as the shipped passed.  Yep, that was our plan all along.



In the photo above, you can see there are people on the carrier.



All kinds of different authorities making sure the ship channel is cleared: Coast Guard, Homeland Security, Port of Brownsville Police, Texas Game Warden...



We stayed ahead of "the parade," and tucked into the Port Isabel Channel (at "the Y") to watch the ship pass...




Another "parade," of small boats following...


And, it is past the Y...





Yes, that is a shrimper (most are around 65' trawlers)  squeezing around in the narrowest part of the channel (and nobody sent them packing).



Oh, and more dolphins...



We followed along behind the carrier for a while.


Homeland Security leaving the scene - no other access from this point into the ship channel, so I guess they felt their work was done...


Oh, and more dolphins...


And, the carrier.  Notice the tug on the port side (left side for you land lubbers)...


... it is coming at us (maybe he's done, too).

A cute dolphin face...


A glance at the carrier (and the tug is still coming our way)...


I moved to the north side of the channel, to give the tug plenty of room, and then - bow surfing!






The tug was kicking a big bow wave and plenty of wake...


Motor vessel Cool Change handled it with no issue.  Time to head for home.

We came across this boat in the PI channel...


And, his feathered passengers on the stern...


Coming into the turning basin, we saw this tug pushing a couple barges...


To make sure we weren't going to be in his way (I assumed he'd be tying off to the other tugs and barges, waiting for the carrier to clear the ship channel), I gave him a call on the radio - asked if passing his port side would give him enough room... "Roger that, captain - make your pass."

Once beyond the tug, we turned into the canal to head for home...


A pretty special day out on the water today.  Our timing was good to watch the aircraft carrier make it's final journey, and the dolphins were a particularly fun bonus!


2 comments:

Steve O said...

Wow, what a day. Thanks for sharing!

Severance Travels said...

Jim, very impressive. What a thrill to be there and watch it come in. We recently toured the carrier in Corpus Christi harbor and were amazed at the size of these carriers!!
Larry