Port display honors maritime industry

Marilyn Tennissen Jun. 22, 2007, 2:47am

An 21-foot diameter bronze propeller from a Gulf Oil tanker was installed June 12 at the Port of Beaumont to recognize the area's history in the maritime industry.

Southeast Texas has a long history with the maritime industry, and a new display at the Port of Beaumont is making sure visitors don't forget.

The U.S. Maritime Administration has loaned a five-blade bronze propeller to the Port as a way to honor the area's maritime history. It was recently installed at the Port's entrance.

The 21-foot-diameter propeller once powered the Gulf Prince, a 35,000-ton, 630-foot long tanker built for the Gulf Oil Corporation in 1957. The Gulf Prince had three sister ships, the Gulf King, Gulf Queen and Gulf Knight, commissioned by the oil company.

In 1984, the Maritime Administration renamed the Gulf Prince the American Osprey, and made it part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet. The Osprey was actively engaged in Operation Desert Storm and was eventually deactivated in 1999. The propeller was retrieved from a storage shipyard in Mobile, Ala.

Many Southeast Texas businesses were involved in the transport and installation of the propeller. A tug from Kirby Inland Marine helped bring the propeller to Beaumont, where it was unloaded by local longshoremen. Steel Painters Inc. sandblasted and prepared the bronze blades. The concrete base was the work of Lanier & Associates and Bo-Mac Contractors. Lifting the 80,000-pound propeller onto the base on June 12 was the work of U.S. Flag and Flagpole supply cranes.

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