Discover stories behind the latest exhibitions, fascinating explorations into maritime science and archaeology, and the surprising details of what happens inside (and outside) a modern working museum.
24 Nov 2008
Being in a sunless space, bereft of fresh air for last three years, does strange thing to people.
After picking up the entry permit from the project office our thoroughly serious and professional marine hull surveyor, Warwick Thomson, is intently checking that the tank has been gas freed correctly; he sorts out the essentials, gas monitor… check, camera, torch… check, chipping hammer… check, note pad and pen… check check. Clothed in his fresh, white disposable overalls, Warwick could be mistaken for a slightly dumpy cottontail but afflicted with the difficulties of Alice in negotiating the entry down the rabbit hole of No.3 fuel oil tank. In its shape, the fuel reservoir is a crescent moon prism, its inboard surface being the regular cylinder of the pressure hull, its outer more complex curve, being the thinner plated skin visible from the exterior of the sub. Internally, the space is complicated by a lattice of supports radiating from the inner to the outer lateral face.
14 Nov 2008
In the early morning and aft of the clock watchers end, the dock floor is moist and cool. At mid day dining time, again she’s placid, humidified by the latent pools and the gentle cascade edging by the outer caisson. The sheer thermal mass of a structure, that when completed, at the eve of peace in the 1944, could house any vessel afloat, ensures a mild clime, while Onslow’s constant shadow gives respite at midday to our more freckled fellows. At these times there is only the interval led, discordant pop of the compressed air relief valves, not too far removed from a croak, to disturb the air. But these are only moments among many and the sudden vision of a soul, accompanied by paramedics, being hauled aloft in a yellow cage through the vacant blue, reminds you that when you’re down and out at the bottom of the dock there’s only one way out; forty five feet up straight up. He’ll be okay, the pain killing shots have subdued him and after a couple of weeks of physio he’ll be back but for the rest of the day you’re left hypersensitive to the need to know, to be sure of every placing of the three points of contact, to follow the rules, to know that some one else knows where you’re at, for on the irregular floor of the dock, strung out with hoses possessing their own dynamism, with multiple bobcats and remotely driven cherry pickers all beeping out a warning that builds to a Doppler cacophony, then splits into asymmetric chaos of sound, to be heard, to be seen, to be safe, is never guaranteed.Read more
04 Nov 2008
Thales of Miletus lived over 2500 years ago, one of ancient Greece’s “Seven Sages”, he bequeathed to the world many ideas in the fields of politics, ethics and business, but from my desk here at Garden Island, his cosmological beliefs and his contribution to geometry are primary in my mind. The Thales Group, the company that now operates the docking facilities at GI has a world wide presence whose origins lie in electronics. With the company’s comparatively recent entry into shipbuilding came the adoption of the name Thales and seems no where more appropriate than right here. According to Aristotle, Thales believed that everything had water as its origin, an idea that perhaps resonates better in contemporary Australia than in ancient Greece, he is also recorded as measuring the height of Egypt’s pyramids by the length of their shadow. The meshing of ideas in the mind of one ancient polyglot is embedded in the actions all who labour under the banner of Thales. Through the application physics and maths we affect change on a maritime subject but perhaps it is only ideas that are beyond the reach of entropy and we work in vain to protect Onslow from the ravages of this temporal existence?Read more
31 Oct 2008
Lean on the rail that skirts the graving dock, the best place seems to be next to the sign saying “DO NOT LEAN ON RAIL”, and in a very short while someone will pop up at your shoulder and start to spin a tale. With equal measure of pride and an emotion very near disgust, they will talk of their time on “the rock” (Cockatoo Island) servicing the Oberons, the intermediate dockings here at Garden Island or their time as a submariner operating these immensely complex machines. Like an abstinent addict, one half of them cannot help but take pride in what the other half casts in shame. They were all younger men then and for their lack of a comparative perspective they achieved amazing things, things that the prospect of having to repeat today would produce a repulsive shudder.
“15 years I spent working on those damned things.” says one
“that’s my boat there….filthy bloody things they are” says another, and another “ two months they reckoned It’d take and eighteen months later I was still labelling those @#!*%$ pipes.”