The Future31 May 02 Fri.
College of Sciences Newsletter Edition 16 December 1, 2002
30 May 02 Thur.
The End of an Era
by Phyllis Fryer Brown
From the R/V Linwood Holton’s first logbook
13 Oct 1971 Wed09:32 Under way from Little Creek Amphibian Base. En route bay-mouth survey area. Aboard: Bray, Doty, Well’s team (Melchor, Weiss, Sears, McGrath).
09:40 052˚ cc from L.C. Jetties at 1710 rpm.
13:25 Line established and divers over (Melchor and Wells).
14:00 Divers on surface.
14:05 Stopped main eng. – one diver checking ship’s propeller, rudder, etc.
14:10 Both divers aboard – Melchor reports that everything appears OK around the propeller. Picking up buoys.
14:35 All buoys aboard.
14:40 Under way for L. Creek. 240˚ cc at 1710 rpm. All gauges nominal.
16:00 Secure to pier 7, East, inshore, L. Creek Amphib. Base. Post trip clean up underway.
16:30 All systems secured.
October 13, 1971, marked the start of a partnership that would last for more than three decades. This partnership helped broaden the parameters of research and education in the Institute of Oceanography (later renamed the Department of Oceanography; now the Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences), a relationship that saw the end of a century – and the end of an era for the College of Sciences. Thirty-one years later, both Captain Robert N. Bray and the Research Vessel Linwood Holton, the partners, retire from service at Old Dominion University.
Building a Career
Before the Institute of Oceanography was formally established in 1965 at the old ferry terminal and dock on Willoughby Spit, an energetic young man began spending his spare time helping with the boats operated by the Institute. Bob Bray, an electronics technician for a naval flight crew, was disillusioned with his naval career – after all he joined the Navy because he wanted to work with boats, not airplanes! This hobby led him to apply to graduate school where he studied under and worked with the Institute’s first director, Dr. Jacques Zaneveld.
“One of the projects I worked on with Dr. Zaneveld was the construction of the Old Dominion University reef. Lacey Redd, a friend of the Institute, donated cars that we sank and stacked along Ocean View,” Bray recalls.
Bray and the Institute’s first boat captain, Bill Hall, borrowed a 45-foot Army tugboat from Morehead City, North Carolina for the duration of the project. The two, Hall and Bray, became the initial crew of the Institute’s first research vessel, the Albatross. The R/V Albatross, an Army Corps of Engineers vessel (T-boat) was the central vessel of the Institute until it was grounded at False Cape, Virginia, due to the failure of the propulsion system. Immediately, John C. Ludwick, Jr., the new chairman of the Institute of Oceanography, began searching for a replacement vessel.
A New Vessel
Through cooperative efforts of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Office of Naval Operations, the Office of Naval Research, the General Services Administration, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Governor Linwood Holton, Rep. G. William Whitehurst (R-Va.), and members of the University’s Board of Visitors another vessel was located that could be converted for the research purpose. On June 1, 1971, the Institute of Oceanography replaced the R/V Albatross with another T-boat, a T-498. It was 65 feet 7 inches in length with a beam of 17 feet 8 inches. Bray was instrumental in finding and bringing it to Norfolk from Charleston, South Carolina. This vessel was built in New Orleans in 1953 under a Korean War contract. The war ended with the boat never being put into service. The vessel stayed in wet storage for 7 years, then placed in dehumidification status in dry storage where it remained for another 10 years.
Upon arrival in Norfolk, conversion plans for the T-boat were carried out at Norfolk Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corporation in readiness for its new scientific mission. The original propulsion system was replaced with a V-12 diesel engine (with two rebuilds this same engine serviced the Holton for 31 years), which developed 340 continuous shaft horsepower at 1,800 revolutions per minute. Estimated speed was 9.5 knots, and a cruising range of approximately 500 miles. The cargo hold was converted to sleeping quarters and the after-deck converted for laboratory and navigational uses. The boat could carry 18 passengers.
On October 12, 1971, the new vessel was christened “R/V Linwood Holton.” The ceremonies were held at the Willoughby Bay Marina with Governor Holton and his wife attending. Mrs. Holton performed the actual christening with Bob Bray assisting. Other notable participants were Old Dominion University’s President James L. Bugg, Jr., Francis N. Crenshaw, rector of the Board of Visitors, and board members Frank Batten and Dr. Milton A. Reid.
A Career Dreams are Made of
With the fanfare past, Dr. Ludwig, the new “Captain” Bray and the growing number of oceanographers at Old Dominion could not wait to put the boat into service. “The part I liked best,” Bray remembers, “was helping graduate students learn field work. You take someone from Iowa and watch them develop field science skills. I was a student advocate!”
“In those days, money was tight,” Bray continues. “We just didn’t place an order for equipment we needed for the vessel, we built it ourselves! It was the Science Shop under Thurman Gardner and Bobby Powell that kept the boat running. Basically, the Holton was run on no money, just our time.”
As Bray settled into his role as captain, his friendships with Gardner and Powell grew. “When sampling equipment was needed, we didn’t buy it, we designed and built it!” Bray said. He fondly remembers the many lunches with Gardner and Powell in the shop. Following a fast game of Hearts, they would coordinate talent and ideas to design the sampler or other instruments that were needed for the boat. The three were regular customers at the Richmond surplus warehouse looking for scrap metal and obsolete equipment to be reconfigured for a new project. “It was this creative process that I really enjoyed - and now miss!” Bray admits.”
The growth of the oceanography department, from its start at the old ferry terminal to its rise to national prominence, is not only remarkable but noteworthy, too. Bob Bray along with Jacques Zaneveld, John Ludwick and the earliest faculty recruits to the department (Don Adams, Peter Fleisher, Ron Johnson, and Don Swift) created the foundation for the existing department. None were more important at touching lives and building future scientists than the captain who was always at the helm encouraging young minds, assisting with the scientific mission and assuring them of safe travels under his direction. Remarkably, and not by accident, in the 31 years that Bray was captain, not one mishap or accident occurred under his careful watch. He attributes a lot of this outstanding record to Donnie Padgett, his crewmate for the last 22 years. Their routines became so familiar with each other that they could communicate potential problems areas with a look or raised eyebrow.
Last Days Together
From the R/V Linwood Holton’s 15th and final logbook
20 May 02 Mon.29 May 02 Wed.06:30 Bray aboard. Rearranged shore power transformer and hook-up cables – need electrician for final connection – test, etc.21 May 02 Tues.
06:45 Bray and scientific crew (Doughton) aboard.
07:00 Under way outbound.
08:00 Station LE5.5 – Fort Monroe
0:900 Completed station – U/W for NOAA. W X too rough to continue up bay.
10:15 Moored to NOAA dock.
10:30 Boat secured.
07:00 Prep for WQL cruise.22 May 02 Wed.
07:01 U/W en route stations up the bay.
20:30 Moored to Deagles Marine near Deltaville.23 May 02 Thur.06:00 U/W for station in bay, Pocomoke Sound and Great Wicomico.
21:30 Anchored in river (G. Wicomico).
05:00 U/W en route lower bay stations.28 May 02 Tues.
19:00 Moored to NOAA docks.
08:00 Bray aboard 28’ boat for CTD cruise. Padgett checking Holton.
08:00 Drafted letter to chairman stating Holton is unfit for use until, or unless, yard work is performed to correct excessive vibration.08:00 Submitted letter to chair as per above.Dr. Royer (chair) disseminated e-mail informing faculty that further use of the Holton is at an end.