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Richmond is a Waterfront City Featuring the Old and the New

Richmond, with 32 miles of shoreline on San Francisco Bay, has more waterfront than any other city. That means our shoreline is always in the news. From historical to cutting edge, here are two stories that feature Richmond.

         Point Richmond-based Graham Hawkes continues to push the technological envelope with cutting edge mini-submarines. See the following about the Super Falcon.

         Richmondís red Oak Victory is part of the largest fleet of historical vessels in the world. Read on.

Super Falcon sub ready to fly in Monterey Bay

The curious craft with its 10-foot wingspread looks like a sleek jet plane, not what it really is: a small submarine capable of flying deep beneath the ocean's surface to survey whatever's there.


Charles Chiau, Hawkes Ocean Technologies' chief electroni...Graham Hawkes (right, in dark jacket) designed and built ...Jay Tustin (left) of Hawkes Ocean Technologies talks with...http://imgs.sfgate.com/graphics/utils/plus-green.gifView More Images


And that's just what it will do next month when scientists and conservationists from California's national marine sanctuaries take it underwater in Monterey Bay and start tracking everything that's living there, from whales to tiny krill.

The newly designed, battery-powered submarine is only 20 feet long and is built to carry two people to depths of 1,500 feet as they cruise at a sedate 7 mph.

Unveiled Wednesday at the California Academy of Sciences, Deep Flight Super Falcon, as the sub has been named, had already been tested successfully inside San Francisco Bay.

Maria Brown, superintendent of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, spoke enthusiastically of the sub's potential as curious academy visitors peered at the Super Falcon resting on its cradle and flashing its laser range-finders.

"It will provide us our first real access to all the sanctuary's life beneath the surface," Brown said. "We already have multi-beam instruments to probe the seabed and give us very detailed information about its rocky contours, but now we can learn much more about how animals move through the water and where they move.

John McCosker, the academy's chair of aquatic biology, said the agile submarine will enable him and his colleagues for the first time to follow along with the travels of "whales and dolphins and even super sharks - maybe even the mysterious giant squid."

The craft is the fourth generation of mobile undersea craft invented, designed and built by marine engineer Graham Hawkes of Point Richmond, who has been inventing and building smaller and less agile subs for the past 20 years.

Hawkes has named all his winged undersea vessels Deep Flight, but for this fourth and largest one, he added "Super Falcon," which has a special meaning. The $1.5 million it cost to build the vessel was underwritten by Silicon Valley venture capitalist, mega-millionaire and adventurer Tom Perkins, whose own 289-foot sailing yacht Maltese Falcon was built in Turkey three years ago and first sailed into San Francisco Bay in September.

The first version of Hawkes' Super Falcon is now aboard Perkins' yacht, Hawkes said. The newest Super Falcon, he said, can easily be hoisted aboard other ships and stowed on deck for oceanography research anywhere in the world. It is owned by Hawkes Ocean Technologies, the company he founded with his wife, Karen.

A single rear-mounted propeller, looking much like an electric fan, drives the vessel, and a 48-volt lithium phosphate battery provides power. Its thick pressure hull is a carbon-epoxy mixture, and the two passengers aboard ride seated in cockpits fore and aft, observing their watery surroundings through thick Plexiglas canopies.

According to Hawkes, the craft "flies" just like a jet plane, with electric motors controlling for roll, pitch and yaw. It can fly downward at a maximum of 200 feet per minute, upward at twice that speed and keep flying for a maximum of five hours at 4 knots - about 4.6 mph.

While research in the marine sanctuaries is one major goal of the Super Falcon, Hawkes and Brown agreed, another objective, as Hawkes put it, will be to take "educators, journalists, politicians, conservationists and artists" aboard as a "necessary first step in promoting education, exploration and preservation of our ocean planet."

"Artists, and poets too, we hope, will use the Falcon to show everyone the incredible beauty of the underwater world in our marine sanctuaries," Brown said.

The Super Falcon with its pilot and passenger will be "flying" among the kelp forests, fish and diving seals and sea lions around Monterey Bay from June 19 to July 17. When it's not at work, it will be moored at the Monterey Coast Guard dock for the public to take a look. It will be on display through Sunday at the Academy of Sciences.

E-mail David Perlman at dperlman@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page B - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Maritime history is afloat around the bay

Monday, May 18, 2009

The San Francisco Bay Area has an amazing collection of historic vessels - floating pieces of history - that range from an aircraft carrier that plucked astronauts from the Pacific to a replica of a humble Chinese junk used to fish for shrimp in the bay.


The Balclutha, seen in Alameda in February, is one of the...Jaira Ventura cleans the deck of the Balclutha in Februar...A heap of lines on the Balclutha's deck.http://imgs.sfgate.com/graphics/utils/plus-green.gifView More Images



"I'm pretty sure we have the largest fleet of historical vessels in the world," said Lynn Cullivan, a ranger at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

The maritime park, which likes to call itself America's only floating national park, has the lion's share of the region's historic ships, including the 123-year-old sailing vessel Balclutha.

But there are half a dozen other historic vessels based around the bay, all run by separate nonprofit organizations.

There are enough ships that served in World War II to form a small flotilla. Besides the carrier Hornet in Alameda, there is the submarine Pampanito in San Francisco; two cargo ships, the Liberty Ship Jeremiah O'Brien, berthed near the Pampanito, and the Red Oak Victory in Richmond; and the former Potomac, which served as President Franklin D. Roosevelt's yacht and had a mysterious role in Roosevelt's first meeting with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

This month, the Pampanito is offering a chance to revisit World War II with the original cast - members of the wartime crew of the submarine will be back on Memorial Day for a public ceremony to honor those who died during the war.

Most of the historic vessels in the Bay Area are static displays - but the public can sail on three of them: the Jeremiah O'Brien, the Potomac and the much smaller scow schooner Alma. Voyages around the bay are offered on all three this month.

Some of the historic vessels are small, like Monterey clipper fishing boats based at the maritime park, and some are obscure - the old lightship Relief, for example, which is open for tours at Oakland's Jack London Square.

But for anybody with an interest in the region's salty past, all of them are worth a look.

The biggest fleet

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, foot of Hyde Street, San Francisco.

The collection includes the 1886 sailing vessel Balclutha, the sailing lumber schooner C.A. Thayer, the 1890 ferryboat Eureka, the steam tugs Hercules and Eppleton Hall, the scow schooner Alma, the junk Grace Quan, and several smaller vessels. Not all the ships can be boarded, but the Balclutha, Eureka and Hercules are open and are the main attractions.

Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the pier is free, admission to the ships is $5, discounts for seniors and kids. www.nps.gov/safr, (415) 447-5000.

Special events: voyage on the hay scow Alma, May 30 and June 6, 13 and 27. $35 for adults. Reservations required.

World War II submarine

Pampanito, Pier 45, San Francisco. This sub, built in 1943, fought in the Pacific in World War II and participated in the rescue of more than 70 British and Australian prisoners of war. Full tour of the boat, including two torpedo rooms and engine room, is available. Open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. $9 for adults, discounts for seniors and kids. www.maritime.org, (415) 775-1943.

Special event: Lost boat ceremony honoring submarines lost at sea, 10 a.m. May 25. Members of the original submarine crew will be on hand. Free.

A ship named Liberty

Jeremiah O'Brien, Pier 45, San Francisco. This armed cargo ship, built in 1943, is one of only two survivors of more than 2,700 identical ships built to carry troops and ammunition. The O'Brien participated in the D-Day invasion in 1944 and returned to France in a celebrated voyage on the 50th anniversary of the invasion in 1994. Still an operating ship.

Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. $8 for adults, discounts for seniors and kids. www.ssjeremiahobrien.org, (415) 544-0100

Special events: Seaman's memorial cruise, Saturday. $100 includes lunch and beverages. Live music. Commemoration of the 65th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 9 a.m., with music and program by D-Day veterans. $40 for adults, discounts for seniors and veterans.

A heroic aircraft carrier

Hornet, Alameda Point, Alameda. This ship served in World War II and the Korean war, and was the recovery ship for astronauts on two Apollo missions. This famous aircraft carrier is open for complete tours.

Open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, $14 for adults, discounts for kids and seniors. www.uss-hornet.org, (510) 521-8448.

Special events: Friday to May 29: ancient mariners regatta with Sea Scouts from across the United States competing in nautical skills. Information for this event at www.ancientmariner.us.

May 25: Memorial Day ceremony at 1 p.m.

May 29 and June 26: Family overnight experience, staying on the ship overnight; $100 per person, regardless of age. Reservations: (510) 521-8448.

The president's yacht

Potomac, Jack London Square, Oakland. This trim 165-foot vessel served as Franklin D. Roosevelt's yacht up to the start of World War II. Many mementos of FDR are displayed. The Potomac is an operating ship and cruises on the bay.

Open from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. $10 for adults, discounts for others. www.usspotomac.org, (510) 627-1215.

Special events: Two-hour history cruises Thursday, Saturday and June 27. $45 for adults, discounts for seniors and children. Three-hour history cruises June 13 and 18. $65 for adults, discounts for seniors and children.

How do you spell relief?

Lightship Relief, Jack London Square, Oakland. This brightly painted vessel served as a lightship off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Fully crewed, this ship would act as a floating lighthouse. Unique vessel.

Open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Free admission. www.uslhs.org, (510) 272-0544.

One of the last survivors

Red Oak Victory, 1337 Canal Blvd., Richmond. During World War II, Richmond was one of the major shipbuilding centers in the entire world and produced 747 ships, one of them built in only four days. The Red Oak Victory served in three wars and is the last of the Richmond-built ships and the only one on display.

A renovation project is ongoing and the ship is not yet operational.

Open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A $5 donation is requested. www.ssredoakvictory.com, (510) 237-2933.

Special events: 7 p.m. June 11: home front film festival with "Casablanca" being shown in the ship's No. 4 hold. Free with ship admission.

9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 21: Father's Day pancake breakfast for a nominal fee.

E-mail Carl Nolte at cnolte@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page B - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle