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Welcome to the Main Deck and Cargo Handling Gear!
cargo masts, booms, and winches

Image showing cargo hatch #3 partially open for loading of equipment.

The S.S. Lane Victory's reason for existance is her cargo holds.  She is a break-bulk cargo ship; meaning she was designed to handle cargo that came packaged individually in crates, cases, drums, palletes, etc.  In her holds she carried the materials necessary to support US soldiers overseas, she carried the matierials of international commerce, and on a few rare occasions, she carried human refugees and evacuating soldiers.  She has 5 cargo holds (3 forward, 2 aft of the miships house) with cargo hold #1 at the bow.  All cargo hatches are located on the main deck with the excption of hold #1 which is located on the foc'sle deck. Her 3 masts, cargo booms, electric winches and rigging are central to her role as a freighter; allowing her to load and off-load most cargo without assitance from dock-side cranes.  The masts provide anchor points for the cargo booms and their rigging. At the base of each mast is a mast-house that contains several compartments for the stowage of equipment and gear necessary to conduct deck operations. Atop each mast-house is a ventilation intake to provide fresh air to the holds and below deck spaces.  The winches are used to drive the runners that hoist cargo aboard ship and into the holds. The electric winches were a vast improvement over the liberty ships' steam winches allowing the victory ships to conduct cargo operations without their boilers being lit (as long as shore power was available).  The electric systems of the victory ship also made the ships more reliable and damage resistant since all steam lines are contained to the engine room and machinery spaces.

cargo masts, booms, and winches

Image showing the main-mast, cargo booms and winches forward of hatch #3. The fore-mast can be seen in the background.

The fore-mast is aft of cargo hatch #1 on the foc'sle deck.  It supports two booms that service hatch #1.  The main mast is aft of cargo hatch #2 and forward of cargo hatch #3.  It supports 4 cargo booms; two of which are used to service hatch #2, while the other two service hatch #3. Two king-posts forward of the the midship's house each  support cargo booms that also service cargo hatch #3. There are two more king-posts aft of the midship's house that support cargo booms that serve cargo hatch #4. Finally the mizzen-mast is aft of cargo hatch #4 and forward of hatch #5.  It supports 4 cargo booms; two of which serve cargo hatch #4, while the other two serve hatch #5.  Each cargo boom was originally designed for a 5 ton capacity.  The S.S. Lane Victory's cargo booms are currently certified for a max operational weigh of 2.5 tons. This is largely due to the lack of available test weight during certification; but also, saves wear and tear on the ship as there really is no need for her to lift heavy loads aboard.


cargo winch

Close up of  one of the 14 cargo winches aboard the S.S. Lane Victory. The cargo runner line is around the central winch drum. The gypsy-head drum projecting from the right side is used in rasing or lowering of the cargo boom.

Each cargo boom has one 50 HP electric winch to run the gear. The winches are controlled by a pair of controllers located at center-line positions fore or aft of each cargo hatch.  Each winch is driven by a single speed DC electric motor.  The winch speeds are controlled by switching resistor banks to limit the electric current in each motor. 

Today, the Lane Victory's cargo runners (also called whips) from a pair of booms (port and starboard) are linked together in a Burton configuration (also called a yard and stay rig). This allows cargo to be brought from over the side of the ship, hoisted latterally until over the cargo hatch and then lowered down into the hold. The rasing and lowering of the paired runners is controlled by running the winch motors in the same direction; both winches either reeling in or spooling out cable at the same time. Lateral control of the paired runners is accomplished by running the winches in opposite directions; one winch is spooling cable out while the other winch is reeling cable in.

The Burton system greatly increases the efficiency of cargo loading by eliminatining the need to reposition the cargo booms to move cargo from the dock to the ship.  In a single boom configuration, the shore-side boom would need to be swung outboard to lift cargo from the dock.  Once the cargo was lifted over the rail, the boom would then have to be swung inboard to position the cargo over the hatch.  Then the cargo could be lowered down into the hold and the process of swinging the boom back out would begin for the next lift. Swinging the boom is a manual process in which a number of seamen would heave in or pay out the inboard / outboard guy-lines to move the boom in the desired direction..

The ship also has a pair of jumbo booms that was used for loading heavier cargo.  There is a 50 ton boom mounted on the aft of the main-mast to service cargo hatch #3.  There is a 30 ton boom mounted forward of the mizzen mast to service cargo hatch #4. The jumbo booms require four winches to operate both up/down and left/right movements.  These booms are currently installed on the S.S. Lane Victory but not certified for use as the Coast Guard generally considers shoreside or floating cranes safer for loading/unloading heavy cargoes.  

cargo winch

Image of two of the starboard cargo booms and rigging aboard the S.S. Lane Victory

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