Ballard Maritime Academy students got down to work last Friday, December 13th aboard the Seaport’s fleet of National Historic Landmark vessels. Seaport instructors turned the tug Arthur Foss and lightship No.83 “Swiftsure” into floating classrooms and engaged these high school students in the processes of starting a 700hp marine diesel engine and in discussions regarding the possibilities of restoring the 1904 steam engine deep inside Swiftsure’s hull.
At 0845 sleepy-eyed students rolled out of their parked cars and boarded both vessels at Historic Ships Wharf in two different groups to create smaller instructional groupings for higher impact and hands-on opportunities. Chief Engineer of Arthur Foss, Steven Baker, immediately set the students to preparing the tug’s Washington Iron Works engine for start-up.
“I love the Swiftsure and Arthur Foss. I would like to spend more time on them.” (BMA Student)
With guidance, students oiled and greased the engine’s valve train, pumps, shaft bearings and camshaft. They checked various tanks and gauges while peppering Steven with questions regarding one aspect of the engine or another. During the program, students also taught one another repetitive tasks as they passed the oil can, for example, ensuring their friends learned the task at hand.
Finally, engine start-up! Dazzled, most students could not help but smile from ear-to-ear, as the six cylinders rang out sweet sounds of industrial power. Sometimes, such grand efforts take a couple of tries, and both new engineer and students learned together from their shared experiences…as we all do.
From the weather deck of LV83, shipwright Brian Johnson of Ocean Bay Marine introduced BMA students to the 1904 lightship and her purpose as an aid to navigation for West Coast mariners in the early to mid 20th century. Students learned about her most recent 90 days in the Lake Union Drydock Company’s shipyard and plans for deck restoration.
Afterwards, the group climbed down one deck at a time until arriving at her boiler and engine rooms. Here, students seemed to be in awe of the large vertical connecting rods while learning from Brian about the kaleidoscopic opportunities of gaining skill sets both aboard vessels and in science.
“Everyone and everything was great, and I really liked working on Arthur Foss.” (BMA Student)
Throughout the program, both Steven and Brian also shared their professional experiences in enginerooms aboard many different types of ships, providing these career-bound students with a glimpse through the hawsehole.
The ‘Engineer for a Day’ program and afternoon cruise aboard Virginia V would not be possible without the strong partnership of The Steamer Virginia V Foundation and the generous financial support of the Students’ Day Afloat Program (flyer PDF) donors and sponsors, such as, Pacific Fishermen Shipyard , PFI Marine Electric and Port of Seattle. Thank you!
If you have received Northwest Seaport’s annual appeal letter, please consider completing the donation card in support of programs like these or simply use our online DONATION FORM. Thank you!