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McKenzie River Reflections
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June 16, 2016     McKenzie River Reflections
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-t By Cliff Richardson LEAK DETECTION I Pa==e8 McKenzie River Reflections Thursday, June-16, 2016 Continued From Page 6 Of course, when a German torpedo hits an unarmored cargo ship, she's going to sink one way or another, cracks in the hull or no cracks in the hull. What was more alarming were the three known cases of Liberty ips just breaking in half and sinking while minding their own business, nowhere near a German raider. One of these, the S.S. John P. Gaines, broke in half and sank off the Aleutian Islands, drowning 10 mariners. And, of course, plenty more were lost in storms and heavy weather at sea; it's a good bet that under the strain of hurricane winds and mountainous seas a few other Liberty ships went down with all hands and no one the wiser as to why. So it was with all these factors in mind that the U.S. War Shipping Administration commissioned a replacement for the Liberty, just a few mouths after Pearl Harbor. That replacement would become the Victory 1class. The Victory was an improvement in every possible way. Thanks to a massive power upgrade, it was over 50 percent faster -- 17 knots, which is roughly the same speed as a surfaced German submarine -- so it was far harder to put a torpedo into. It was bigger -- 455 feet long and displacing t5,200 tons, versus 441 feet and 14,245, respectively. Then, too, it was far easier on the eyes than a Liberty ship, with a raked bow and an elegant cruiser stem. And to help address the cracking problem, the internal bracing was changed to make the hull less stiff. The very ilfst Victory ship, the S.S. Untied Victory, slid into the water at Henry Kaiser's Oregon Shipbuilding Company yard in Portland, in January 1944. From then until the end of the war, a total of 531 of them were launched from six shipyards -- the largest number of them built in Portland -- to join the 2,750 or so Liberty ships in Uncle Sam's wartime production records. The Drexel Victory was one of the last Victory ships built, in the waning months of the war. Now, two years later, she was making her way across the bar with a modest load of cargo bound for Yokohama, Japan, when suddenly something big and loud happened to the hull amidships -- between holds 4 and 5. It was nothing as dramatic as what had happened to the doomed Liberty ships, but it was enough. Water poured into the ship; plates bulged under the sudden pressure. The crew got to the pumps and tried to keep up, but the ship was clearly Sinking. By now the darkness was complete, but fortunately the weather wasn't too heavy, so the Coast Guard motor lifeboat Triumph and cutter Onondonga managed to get the crew evacuated without any major trouble. Then the Onondonga tried to get a line on the drifting, unmanned freighter, hoping to beach her or at least make sure she didn't sink in the middle of the channel. All efforts failed, though, and the sinking Drexel Victory drifted out to sea, wallowing lower and lower and finally sinking in deep water just offshore. So, what happened? No one really knows for sure. The captain was exonerated at the subsequent hearing; he'd had his ship in the channel, doing everything he was supposed to do, when it had happened. The Drexel Victory drew 30 feet of water fully loaded; the channel where she started taking on water was 60 feet deep. And the Army Corps of Engineers, surveying the channel after the sinking, found no obstructions there. So either the Drexel Victory rammed a derelict ship, or as seemed far more likely -- that pesky metal-fatigue problem that had plagued the older Liberty ships had not been completely licked. And if that was the case, the crew of the Drexel Victory had had a very narrow escape indeed. The bar that day had hit the ship with a few big swells, but nothing compared with what a good January storm can dish out on the north Pacific, between Portland and Yokohama. And if the hull had cracked as it did in the middle of one of those, there likely would have been no survivors. (Sources: Gibbs, James A. Pacific Graveyard. Portland: Binford, 1950; National Parks Service, "Liberty Ships and Victory Ships, America's Lifeline at War," Teaching with Historic Places Lesson Plans, www.nps.gov; S.S. Lane Victory museum ship Web page at www.lanevictory.org) Finn J.D. John teaches at Oregon State University and writes about odd tidbits of Oregon history. For details, see http://finnjohn.com. To contact him or suggest a topic: finn2@offbeatoregon.com or 541- 357-2222. LLC 541-654-0553 We Find Concealed Leaks on: WELL LINES IRRIGATION & SERVICE LINES LOCALLY OWNED CCB# 193788 wvra.accu ratelea k. net McKenzie Varsity Sports Schedule This Week The McKenzie Varsity Volley- ball and Basketball programs are currently involved in summer league programs. The Varsity Girls Basketball team will play Thursday, June 16, at home in the New Gym starting at 5:30 pm. The team next plays the Alumni on Friday, June 17, and that game also starts at 5:30 pm., in the New Gym. The Eagle Boys Varsity Bask- etball team hosts Creswell-Junior Varsity on Friday, June 17, and the game is scheduled for a 6: 30 pm. tip-off. The Varsity Boys Basketball team will next host a home game series with Mohawk and North Douglas on Saturday, June 18, in the New Gym. McKenzie will play Mohawk at 10:00 am. followed by Mohawk versus North Douglas at 11:30 am. and McKenzie versus North Douglas at I:00 pm. Afree Bar-B- Que Will also be available to fans and players. The McKenzie Athletic Depart- ment hosts the McKenzie High School Athletic Golf Tourn-ament on Sunday, June 19, and the event will be held at Tokatee Golf Course. The annual Tournament raises funds for the Eagle Athletic teams. Registration is scheduled for 11:00 am. and Tee-off is scheduled for 12:00 pm. The Eagle Boys Basketball team will attend the Junction City High School Basketball Camp, June 20- Monday's opponents and Triangle Lake may also show up. Time For Kiddie Camp! The McKenzie Varsity Volley- ball program is set to kick off its annual volleyball Kiddie Camp. This year's camp is slated to start on Monday, June 20, and continue daily through Friday, June 24. Funds raised at the camp will support the Varsity Volleyball program for a variety of team needs such as the cost of Team Camp. All folks, kindergarten through 8th grade, boys and girls, are welcome to attend the Camp. Time each day is slated for 9:00 am. until 12:00 pm. Kiddie Camp cost is set at $40.00 per camper for those who registered prior to May 28th and $45.00 for folks registering after May 28th. The Camp cost will include snacks throughout the week and a T-shirt on the last day. Scholarships may he available and there will be no bus transportation. No child will be turned away due to lack of funds. Campers are requested to be prepared to play hard, dress in shorts, a T-shirt, and tennis shoes and no skirts nor sandals will be allowed. The camp, as always, will be coached by the Eagle Varsity players. Letters to the Editor Continued From Page It recent Orlando tragedy brought to mind what should he an important aspect of every community's preparedness for such terrible events, an adequate supply of blood always at the ready. We are fortunate to have the Lane Blood Center to collect, maintain and distribute the blood and they need our support to do that important task. People responding in huge numbers immediately after tragedies often overwhelm the system and can even result in a glut of blood. Some components of the donations must be used within a short time which can result in a sad tale of supply and demand. Having a full bank at all times would be the ideal scenario. Headquarters on Tuesday, July 5, from 8-11:30 a.m.. This drive will be important, as the supply during the summer and holidays often can dwindle to very low levels. The blood drive will also benefit the Doug Dunbar Scholarship Fund with money collected from sponsors making pledges to the scholarship based on the number of units collected at the blood drive. Each year the ranger district folks award a deserving McKenzie HS graduate a scholarship in honor of Doug Dunbar, MHS Class of 1990, who lost his life along with 13 other firefighters in a 1994 Colorado wildfire. It's a win-win opportunity for us to help keep our supply at the ready while honoring the memory of Doug and enhancing the pursuit of higher education for one of our students. Help us, if you will, by contacting the Lane Blood Center OurMcKenzie Rivercommunity (541-484-9111)to has been very responsive to the call for donations at the bloodmobile visits and it's my hope that will continue to be the case when the bloodmobile visits the McKenzie Ranger District make an appointment to donate blood on July 5th and/or contact Brenda Hamlow (541-822-7222) at the District Ranger Station with your pledge to the scholarship fund. Pete Petty New menu & online ordering takodasrainbow.com plca,,c include e-nmil Open 8am-8pm Every Day 541-822-1153 Your One-Stop Headquarters For Motorhome, Trailer & RV Supplies COMPLETE SERVICE DEPARTMENT LP Gas Appliances. Brake Controls & Hitches ..... Roof Seal & Repair. 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