SS William G Mather - Deep Cuts. Photography and Text by Keith R Wahl
The world at and beneath the ship's waterline
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The world of a ship at and below the waterline, especially a bulk carrier such as the SS William G Mather, is all its own. Like an iceberg, only a small part of the ship's story is above the surface. And it all matters, as this information tells the tale of ship handling and seamanship.
Let's start with the Plimsoll Line found amidships (middle of the vessel). This one shows its Plimsoll registration with American Bureau of Ships. This tells of the lading of the vessel in saltwater and fresh water. This also tells us about how the vessel displaces water in winter and summer. Water has differing densities (salt vs. fresh, warm vs. cold) and effects the vessel buoyancy. These are of keen interest to the vessel lading officer (often the Chief Mate or another Second or Third Mate depending on the ship) and port and canal inspectors.
Depth markings fore and aft also tell the story of load lading (cargo balance fore and aft and side to side). They also tell of how the ship will handle. An unloaded ship (as we see here) will have a different power profile delivered to the propeller. If the propeller and rudder are deeper in the water, steering and power dynamics change. The water also sweeps under the hull as the counter submerges, altering hydrodynamics.
Illustrating the matter of ship handling is the fact that they installed a bow thruster. This was an addition long after building the SS William G Mather. A single screw (propeller) vessel as this will tend to back to port. It is a dynamic of the turning of the propeller. A bow thruster (a separate propeller side to side or athwartship) aids in swinging the bow as desired.
These are features of a freight vessel rarely seen unless one observes ships in port. It is also a view to the considerations of officers and crew at the helm and below decks in machinery spaces too.
See more of our photos and information about the SS William G Mather here: Made From RI Gallery | SS William G Mather - A Bulk Carrier. Photography and Text by Keith R Wahl
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Keywords: Keith R Wahl, Made From RI Gallery, Maritime, Nautical, Photography, Plimsoll, Ship, SS William G Mather, storytelling, Waterline
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