Friday, February 1, 2013

Week 4

I shall start this blog by saying that it was very difficult to write this week. This week I learned about electrical systems. The amount of electrical jokes and puns I had to edit out of this entry would have shocked you. (Couldn’t get rid of them all…that would just be no fun)

This week started out with a more in depth tour of the one particular ship.  From there, I learned how to hook up a light into an electrical system. I must admit it felt pretty neat trying to decide which wire to cut and all.


Sadly, the actual wires were not color-coded – they were actually all black with the words for different colors printed on uniform black wires.



In other news: Mardi Gras celebrations have started and the Superbowl is this weekend.  There goes the gas prices… not to mention the sanity of the area.  New Orleans must be a mad-house . (Worse than it normally is) I’m currently debating watching the game or not…My team didn’t quite make it… (A moment of silence please for the Patriots)

May the odds be ever in your favor!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Week 3

Fun Fact: Ships are huge (and neat); Shipyards are even larger...very easy to get lost. 

My third week in the yard started with me getting a general tour of the yard.  There are three ships (sort of) being constructed at this given point.  I can’t tell you what they are (I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you) but they're neat, trust me.  The number of ships in construction right now is difficult to explain... it's really seven ships because they're somewhere in between first cut and keel laying.

Now, the first thing to say about the yard is that it's massive.  I've been in local repair yards previously, but they were nothing in comparison to this.  I was shown through one of the boats that first two days and got to talk with some of the apprentices.  It was not the first military ship I had been on; however, its current agenda is to make history rather than display it. The first ship I went on was already in the water rather than in segments all over the yard. (Non-boat people: ships are now built in small segments and then those are put together like Legos instead of all at once)
Assembling Example 
The other ones I was able to see were in various stages of getting ready for the water.  There was another ship already in the water as well, but that was already turned over to the Navy and in the process of sea trials so I didn’t have the security clearance to get on that one.

Later that week, I was able to attend a joiners class where I found that I can somehow manage to make things out of metal.  I. E. Sheet metal working.  Turned out not to be easy, although it was very fun to say the least.  On Friday, though, I was able to go around the yard and was shown a few of the cranes in the yard.  (Read: climb up a million stairs to see a few of the cranes and then get to operate the steel yard crane for a little bit)

 As a parting thought: it IS possible to conquer fear.  Before climbing said millions of stairs, I was mildly afraid of heights. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Side Note #1: Language Barrier

Fun Fact: Keeping dinner from burning can be a full time job in itself.

Besides all the fun filled days exploring the ins and outs of the shipyard and different boats , what else do I do? Well, for starters, I have learned 3 different languages thus far , if only in listening to them. Speaking is another matter entirely.


For those of you ( yes, readers, that's you) whom have never been to the south previously, prepare for a different world. Yes, the South and the North are all part of the US of A, but I promise that it is not the same. At all. It took me minutes for me to realize that I couldn't understand many people down here. It took weeks for me to realize WHY. 

The thing about the South is that each area has it's own accent. At home I am used to accents being attributed to different cities...EG: 
Boston Accent
Then there's the New York Accent
And my favorite, the Philadelphia (Philly) Accent.
and one more about Philly

All of this compared to a southern accent...except there is no one southern accent. Thus far, I have heard no less than 15 different accents but can narrow them roughly down to Alabama accent, Louisiana accent, and Mississippi accent. And I swear that when you cross the state boarder it's completely different. I can't really distinguish the actual differences to be put into words, but I can (FINALLY) start to identify who comes from which state. It is truly interesting how varied they are and how I never knew there was even a difference. However, there are certain phrases that stick out in my mind that are definitely different. Such as  " I tell you what", "y'all", "bless your heart" "reckon" "aim to""fixin to" and "good ol' boy". I worry a bit that I'll lose my much loved Philly accent here if I keep this up much longer ...can't be doin that now, ya hear?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Week 2

Fun Fact: Cutting in a straight line is difficult.

Allow me to start this post off by saying that my family comprises of many many plumbers. I grew up on job sites running through would-be walls and generally turning construction sites into my own playground. I thought I understood pipe-fitting and the hard could it be?

Turns out, I was wrong. 

My second week on this internship was devoted to the craft of pipe-fitting. Never heard of it? Pipe-fitting is the act of running piping through the ship in a manner that doesn't have too many leaks . (Read: very tricky job) I spent Monday through Thursday in the apprentice classroom with new-hires (Read: already highly trained professionals from previous shipyards) learning the art of piecing pipe together. That is, I learned the book work and how to read a systems drawing for pipe. Trying to visualize a ship is second nature to me at this point after completing the Freshmen Lines Project . (For non-naval architects, this is a project where we are instructed to draw, by hand, 3 x 2-D pictures of a 3-D object, namely, a fishing trawler)
Example of Ship Lines
 Pipe systems in three dimensions was a whole new ball game. There was no general structure to be imagined when reading the drawings: it was akin to finding the pattern of a bowl of overturned spaghetti. 
Imagine putting simply this system on paper and how convoluted it would look...

Well, Friday came and I found myself in the mock-up, or testing facility, staring at two open flanges that I was to fit pipe for. The thing about cutting pipe is that first you have to measure. Well, my partner (a very patient first-class pipe-fitter) measures with a collapsible measuring stick.
Similar to this one but with less numbers visible from years of use
She measured her pipe runs and had the necessary math completed by the time I had taken 2 accurate measurements of the 10-ish I needed . Side note: I way prefer normal tape measures. After figuring out the sizes of pipes I needed, I then scoured the pipe yard for the type of pipe i needed, marked them, and then cut them. Or rather, tried to cut them. I 've used a grinder before to cut metal. cutting pie was much harder. The ends of the cut never matched up it seemed and everything was a bit too big somehow. Long story short, I am no future pipe-fitter, but I have a very healthy respect for those that are.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

First Week At Work

Fun fact: there are way too many different types of welding for the average person to remember.

Judging from the first week of work alone, this is going to be quite the adventure. . . for many reasons . They are: as follows. The most important is: yet to be imagined.  (Shout out to Professor Harris for this week's introduction inspiration)

Starting with the first day at the shipyard brought about the first of the safety lectures. Never have I seen so many slides documenting how many different ways you can fall down a ladder or how to wear safety glasses. (Apparently wearing them on your head like normal sunglasses is ineffective. ) Slides intermixed with personal stories of just how many bad situations (read : missing limbs/ teeth / fingers) provided a colorful start to a morning peppered with rules of the yard. Sadly, I am unable to post any pictures from the yard to keep the exact ship layouts a surprise for any "bad guys ". (I will attempt to supplement with pictures from elsewhere when I am able)
Yes, you do in fact have to become trained to fall . 
Actual example of what not to do. (The fact that this occurred  leaves me afraid for the human race)

My second day actually meant that I got to meet my boss. For privacy, we shall shorten his name to "T." He informed me that my internship was going to consist of learning about each of the crafts (welding, ship fitting  electrical, etc) through classroom introduction, application of hands on learning, and then seeing it in the field (AKA on the ships).

Therefore, Tuesday and Wednesday consisted of sitting in a classroom learning about the many types of welding, what makes each type special and the such. For instance, I was unaware that for certain metals, the base metal must be within a certain temperature range before welding.

Thursday and Friday brought with them an interesting quandary.  Before heading out to Winter work, Freshmen at Webb receive BASIC training in how welding works. We then join 2 plates together using a butt weld .
Basic types of weld joints ( But in reality there are so many variants to this)

At shipyard, I attended welding school and focused on using stick welding for steel on a Tee Joint. However, there must have been a bit of a mis-communication...I was under the impression that I was to learn the basics to just be able to tack weld (not FULLY welding plates, just "pre-gluing " them together if you will) Instead, I was instructed as if I were to become a class 1 welder ( highest class of welding ). . . In only downhand. My vertical welding was downright scary to behold, truth be told. 

At this point, it's the weekend and it's time to enjoy the palm trees.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Post #1

...and then I was back at Webb at long last. 


If you're like me, you jump to the last page of the book to find out the ending to beat the wait. To make it easier for those like me, I decided to START with the ending to get that out of the way .  

And now for the beginning:

Hello everyone. My name is Alex Wilson and I am from Webb's Class of 2016. As for the name of my blog, after a ride that long, it didn't matter greatly that I was to live on my own "in the real world" for the first time. Nor that the condo I resided in was gorgeous compared to a college dorm. What captivated me for the first hours of this adventure was the one palm tree outside my window. Upon finally getting some quality sleep I came to realize my folly. I should not have been so amazed with that palm tree...the wonder of all wonders was that there was an even prettier one to be seen through my other windows.

 Originally from New Jersey, I had never been to "Dixie" for any length of time. It always struck me as a "pretend place" : a place of dreams. Despite a general understanding of geography, I still could not fathom a winter with days over the 50 degree mark on the thermometers. The balmy 70 degrees upon arrival was almost enough to make me want to move down here permanently . Work at Huntington Ingalls didn't start until January 7th, so I was able to explore around the area a bit. Turns out there was a semblance of a beach a block from my condo it was from there that I saw my first ever oil rig.  For a person who wants to get into the off shore side of naval architecture, I tried not to get too bothered that the first one I ever saw was listing to its side ...

Overall, I can't wait to get started with this internship ! 4:30 AM wake up : bring it on.