During several weekends in April 2007, many dedicated volunteers came out to work on Launch 5 and get her ready for what should be an active 2007 season. She needed a good facelift and Bob Daraio and Rich Detz rose to the substantial challenge. The worked tirelessly on exterior work such as buffing, painting and bottom painting. Launch5 will look great cruising the Hudson thanks to their efforts.
On the inside, master welder Will Stroncer and plumber Claude Sanz were very busy replacing the corroded raw water intakes. Claude's skills as a master plumber are a new addition to Launch 5's volunteer portfolio but they arrived just in time. Several serious issues needed to be dealt with and Claude dove right in and provided the confident professionalism needed to keep Launch 5 on target for being floated.
This season's mechanical and electrical projects were over seen by Cliff Forrest who is an A Mechanic in the Stationary Engineers union and works as an Electric Power Generation technician for Caterpillar® . As Launch 5's chief engineer, he anchors all the work and keeps things on track.
Will Stroncer had his work cut out for him since the Launch needed numerous and significant welding jobs performed before she could be floated. Will is an aeronautical welder by trade and spends most of his professional life welding for the aircraft industry. To him, welding is almost like making furniture.
After a long winter, Cliff and Will clicked and immediately hit a stride. Cliff privately commented, "This is the best welder I've ever worked with. He understands what I ask for and then turns it out better than I could have hoped for". Independently, Will told Greg, "Cliff is the best engineer I've worked with. He's better than most of the aeronautical engineers I deal with." I guess we have our own little mutual admiration society going.
Behind the scenes, Mike Murphy continues to provide overall mechanical consulting and calls the shots on final design review. Mike is a retired NYPD Sergeant who ran their Harbor Unit's Launch Repair Shop.
The owners and staff at White's Marina in New Hamburg went beyond the call of duty to accommodate the numerous twists and turns that this complicated preparation and launching presented and our hats are off to them!
Of course, Greg Porteus, Launch 5's owner and president of the foundation, was there every step of the way - Whether it was with a power washer or his own checkbook (donations have been light).
On November 9, 2007 Launch 5 and her crew participated in a multi-agency drill designed to test radiation detection equipment in a real world situation.
Launch 5 was "undercover" carrying a USCG Lieutenant, NYPD Counterterrorism Officer and a source of low grade radioactivity hidden on the boat. The drill was held in two parts at two locations. Stationed at each location were various agency vessels with radiation detection equipment. As private vessels passed these vessels, they were scanned for radioactivity. This was a "blind test" - all agency vessels were unaware which boat carried the radioactive source or when it would pass.
Enroute to the first location, Launch 5 passed a large fireboat which detected a "hit" and radioed ahead to the other vessels stationed a little further upriver. When Launch 5 approached the other vessels, an NYPD Police Launch approached and circled with it's detection equipment while USCG, FDNY, NJSP stood by. NYPD Launch 9 confirmed a radioactive reading and all agencies surrounded Launch 5 and quarantined her while each agency took turns boarding the boat and searching for the source. Finally, NYPD Aviation arrived on scene with a chopper and swooped in with their detection equipment. All equipment worked perfectly and the "blind test" was a success.
Launch 5 then motored through the Harlem and East Rivers to the second drill location. This time it was a USCG fast response RHIB that approached Launch 5 and made the detection and boarded Launch 5. The same routine was repeated this time with NYPD, FDNY, USCG and Nassau County PD. Once again, the test was a success.
From a Homeland Security perspective, it was impressive to see all these diverse agencies working so smoothly together to counteract this particular water-borne threat.