Restoration of Historic Tanker Galley
Friday, December 06, 2013

As part of our 2013 year‐end fundraising efforts, PortSide NewYork will be running “Operation This Old Ship Kitchen,” a campaign to renovate the galley on the MARY A. WHALEN. The MARY A. WHALEN is a coastal oil tanker 172’ long, 75 years old this year, and on the National Register of Historic Places. The 1938-built MARY A. WHALEN is the last of her kind in the U.S. and is the only oil tanker in the world in service as an educational and cultural center.

To support “Operation This Old Ship Kitchen,” PortSide seeks donations of goods, services and funds.

“Operation This Old Ship Kitchen” is triggered by the donation of time by Air Force veteran Erika Stetson who approached the project before Thanksgiving. This is a campaign of mutual benefit, a way for Erika to help PortSide revitalize the heart of the historic ship MARY A. WHALEN and for PortSide to help train Erika for her new career in the Merchant Marine. Erika Stetson has offered her month of December at forty hours a week until she starts master’s classes and the cadet program at SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx.

At Portside, Erika will be learning basic ship maintenance (corrosion control and painting of steel); line handling, maintenance and knots; and a lot of brass polishing as she helps whip the galley back into shape.

MARY A. WHALEN’s galley is its most popular space during public tours of the ship. The galley features a working cast iron stove patented in 1918, a wood‐paneled refrigerator and freezer, black and white tile floors, lots of metal details (brass and silver –colored Monel) and a large, round table which seats eight in a homey, semi‐circular space at the aft (back) end of the ship.

In addition to showing the galley during TankerTours for the public, PortSide uses the space as overflow office space, a board room and conference room, and as a site for “friendraiser” events during Supper Club dinners.

Erika Stetson’s life goal is national service. She is entering SUNY to train for a Third Mate Unlimited Tonnage license, so she can steer ships for Military Sealift Command, a logistics support fleet for the U.S. Navy. Previously, Erika spent five years in the Air Force, over a decade in civilian service in journalism and PR, and was in Kabul as a U.S. Army civilian Public Affairs Officer working with senior generals involved in military logistics, including the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan.

“The ship’s galley is a treasure within a treasure, and I’m incredibly enthusiastic about completing this project before attending SUNY Maritime,” Erika said. “PortSide also has been accumulating vintage utensils and appliances, and the galley will really take you back in time once this restoration is finished.”

Erika’s offer is particularly important to PortSide because she has a TWIC card, the credential needed to enter the port and visit the ship. Tightened security regulations relating to TWIC cards in the Red Hook Container port where the MARY A. WHALEN is docked shut down our volunteer program in March 2012.

In order to access the MARY A. WHALEN now, you need to have a Homeland Security ID, the TWIC card, which requires a federal background check, fingerprinting, a fee of about $130 and about three weeks processing time; or you have to be escorted by PortSide NewYork Director Carolina Salguero, the only PortSide staff member allowed to escort visitors who don’t have a TWIC card.

It was not possible for Salguero to work all week as Director and also be the volunteer coordinator on weekends, so the volunteer program was shut down in 2012 shortly after the access rules tightened.

“Erika’s offer is such a shot in the arm!” said PortSide Director Carolina Salguero. “Visitors love the galley, maybe because it is so much bigger than apartment kitchens. It will be great to have one space thoroughly repainted to showcase what the rest of the ship can look like. Working with Erika also fulfills a PortSide plan to use the MARY A. WHALEN for maritime training. Erika is a mature, accomplished and dedicated worker; we are so lucky to have her. She’ll get the galley shipshape in no time.”

“Operation This Old Ship Kitchen” Scope of work

•    Strip paint from Monel dishrack, Monel stove hood, five brass portholes, 4 steel drawers, 2 small wood shelves. Ideally these are removed and taken to a dip n strip business and not stripped on site. Thus, work includes removal and re‐installation
•    Prep and paint all painted surfaces. This requires extensive chipping of paint off steel cabinets and radiator, scraping, cleaning and painting of overhead (ceiling) and bulkheads (walls).
•    Extensive cleaning of dirty, old paint before it can be recoated
•    Chemical cleaning of tile floor
•    Degreasing under galley stove

Services sought
•    Furniture restorer to rebuild backs of 8 galley stools, and 5 galley seats. They looked like soda fountain seats with chrome backs and riveted covers.
•    Repair of fridge and freezer. This requires changing compressors from DC to AC electricity, replacing Freon, changing gaskets.

Donations sought

•    Compressor and needle guns for removing paint from steel
•    Paint
•    Thinners
•    Sandpaper
•    2cordless electric drills
•    industrial cleaners and degreasers
•    painters’ paper to cover the tile floor
•    small number of floor tiles and adhesive to replace missing tiles
•    Tyvek suits
•    Disposable latex gloves

What donors get
Donors over $500 get two seats at Supper Club dinner in newly renovated galley, credit on our website on the pages DONATE and MARY WHALEN PRESENT for one year.

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