Fleet Week at Passenger Ship Terminal
To find the street that corresponds with a pier along the west side of Manhattan, subtract 40. So:
pier 66 is on 26th street,
pier 89 is on 49th street,
pier 90 is on 50th street.
pier 40 is on Houston Street, or ‘zero street’.
Pier 89 and 90, Passenger Ship Terminal, is where the Iwo Jima and the USS Roosevelt were docked for Fleet Week.
unfinished drawing of the Iwo Jima
What a crowd to see the Iwo Jima! How patiently people–children!–stood on interminably long lines to wait to enter the ship.
I set up in a quiet spot at the end of the pier 89, just past the throng, the booths with advertising, brochures, and paraphernalia, and past the navy ride simulator machine, but still within the boundary set up to pen visitors in from the end of the dock.
The ship is daunting. She’s BIG, long, complicated, and I contemplated how to squeeze her bulk onto my sketch pad.
The smell of low tide was lovely (yes briny Gloucester and pristine CascoBay! NYC’s lowtide smells good!) After drawing for 20 minutes, a marine with a big gun came by and apologetically asked me to move. “I’m really sorry. My OIC asked me to tell you, uh, but you have to go somewhere else. ” (oh? why? I’m not sure. Et cetera.)
Ok. How about here? I moved next to the ride simulator booth. I got a friendly nod, and continued to draw. But after 10 minutes, another marine came by to tell me I could not stand there. No, I could not!–the exhaust from the ride was choking me.
I moved into the line of folks waiting for the ride, and my fellow citizens patiently accommodated by filing around me while I drew. Surely I can stand here? everyone’s standing here! More armed marines appeared. I continued to sketch, chatted with children.
Apparently, standing is not the issue. One OIC came to tell me that anyone standing in a place photographing–or drawing–for a long time was going to cause a bit of concern. He was very nice about it. I had my TWIC card suspended around my neck on a 1-800-USA-NAVY ribbon I got from FleetWeek last year, and mentioned that I had worked on these piers, but he smiled apologetically and said, “You’re probably innocent, but, sorry…” With the TWIC, I got the same reaction I get at airports–blank glance.
They who fight for liberty and freedom were good enough to grant me the liberty to finish my drawing, sort of.
I do understand their reaction, though. I think it was when I peered through the binoculars to see how the light fixture was attached on the stern of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship that I raised a red flag. I’m glad I left the VHF at home.
Perhaps it was the detailed drawings that they objected to. I turned the page, switched to a cut reed pen and loose-&-groovy mode. The kids liked this much better:
What are your rights, should you find yourself in a similar situation? US military personnel (including military police) have no authority over non-military property or people. I was not on the ship nor standing on a tank, but on the pier which is is owned by the City of New York, though was probably also a USCG regulated facility for the visiting ships and various cruise ship companies. On non-military installations, they have no jurisdiction. If it was a security concern, the police might have been called. No one ever told me not to draw, but I was not able to stand around to draw. Well. I chose not to make it an issue. There’s plenty to draw, it was a beautiful day, people were happy.
USS ROOSEVELT (DDG80), LOA-509′
For good photos and a literary stroll through the interior showing machinery, marines, where barnacles reside and the NAVY’s tweeting address, look here at Tugster.
I watched the marines in their various uniforms debark from the ship, pausing at the head of the gangway to turn to the river to salute the flag on the stern of the ship which was not visible. They would then come off the gangway and joyfully go off into the city with their comrades. I wish for them safe journeys, I wish for them to be able to return home, mentally and physically healthy.
I have the same wish, though, for those with whom they might cross paths, or swords.