For several decades the Zidell Marine Corporation has resided close to downtown Portland. It is now adjacent to Oregon Health Sciences University’s sparkling fresh South Waterfront campus. I like this picture that shows the rusty old crane next to the modern tram structure:
Zidell’s has specialized in building barges since the 1960’s. Now it is wrapping up the barge business and will turn its focus on developing the 30+ acres of waterfront property where the barge operation sits. The last barge to ever be built by Zidell’s – number 277 – was launched on Friday, June 16, and many community members were invited to view the spectacle. Visitors were greeted in this huge building:
After a few minutes, visitors were invited to walk down to the barge to watch as it was launched into the Willamette River:
When the speeches were done, the blessings had been given (thank you for the beautiful words, Rabbi), and the champagne had been cracked over the bow, the moment for the launch was at hand. Camera phones were set to record the big-as-a-skyscraper barge sliding down the ramp and splashing into the water. People waited and waited, but the barge did not budge.
We heard a sound like metal hitting metal. I imagined someone striking the bow with a hammer to give it a nudge – ha! After about 45 minutes of waiting, an announcement came over the loudspeaker: the barge was “reluctant” to leave, they were working on the problem, and meanwhile we were invited back into the building for lunch.
We were greeted at the building entrance with a “sculpture” of the barge:
After lunch I went to the OHSU tower next door to charge my phone and continue the barge watch.
I returned to the barge at about 3:14 p.m., luckily just in time to see it slide gently into the river. A barge was born. The tugboats caught it because it cannot sail under its own power at this point.
Now there was only space where the barge had been. Clean up began right away:
Birth of a barge. Not something you see every day.
Thank you, Zidell, for hosting a fascinating afternoon.
A few facts about this barge:
- It will carry petroleum products between Alaska and the US West Coast.
- For now, it goes by the name Zidell Marine 277. It will be given a different name when it is paired with another barge.
- It is 421 feet, six inches long, and 76 feet 8 inches wide.
- Its gross weight is 3,400 tons.
- The cargo capacity is 80,000 barrels.
- A link to video of the launch: http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2017/06/zidell_yards_last_barge.html