Friday, August 5, 2011

Another Oddity

I popped over the crest of 15th this afternoon to see beautiful shades of sunlit green on the Washington shore and (huh?) a splash of haze gray in the shipping channel.

That particular shade of gray in this river means one of two things: a USN  or an MSC (Military Sealift Command) vessel.  Or perhaps a commercial shipping line wants to make itself a target of international terrorists and I haven’t heard about it yet.  It’s possible, but unlikely.

Since the Rose Festival fleet headed out to sea weeks ago and the silhouette is a bit full, I assume it’s MSC.  The Shipfinder app gives me the name of the vessel, and the stripes on the stack give the rest away.  It’s the SS Cape Intrepid.

Cape Intrepid

I made the larger version a little bigger (double-click on the image) than normal because she’s so unusual.  A single crane mounted forward, a bunch of who-knows-what stacks mounted amidships, and a “launch ramp” that Evel Kneivel would lust after just ahead of the house.  And then there’s the house itself, mounted well forward of typical positioning.  Followed up with the ro-ro ramp at the fantail. 

This is truly a horse designed by committee, but it seems to me that they didn’t screw it up altogether.  It’s still a nice-looking ship!  It just has parts of a break-bulk tramp, a car carrier and something else entirely built onto it.  And it’s got a really nice, rakish bow.

So, she’s no thoroughbred, but she’s not a camel, either. 

I looked around online for some history.

She started life in 1976 as a Lykes vehicle carrier.  Really?  That was pretty good looking as car carriers go. Then became the Arizona (wonder if the crew said extra prayers nightly?), then the Jupiter, and finally the Cape Intrepid.

I’ve seen some photos from other phases of her service, and she’s changed a bit. 

Her mission these days is said to be to support a Marine Amphibious Brigade.  Makes some sense, given her configuration, but something tells me that she wouldn’t be at the point of the spear.  That ramp requires a dock.

Cape Intrepid Aft View

The Arrow 2 was heading out to intercept another outbound ship and I happened to catch a view of the Cape Intrepid’s stern.  Not the prettiest hull in the harbor, but she looks like she’s up to the job.