CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Oct. 22, 2013) -- Out of the darkness on Sunday evening, Oct. 20, 2013, what appeared to be two 500-plus year-old vessels quietly and slowly approached the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District’s Chickamauga Lock.
As Columbus Day was Oct. 14 and Halloween is Oct. 31, was this an apparition or a Halloween prank? Were 500-year-old vessels approaching a deteriorating, 73-year-old lock?
“Not to worry,” said Linda Caperton, Chickamauga lock operator. “I have been expecting them. Captain Morgan Sanger radioed in his ETA, and I have cleared him to enter the chamber,” she added.
The two vessels were heading upstream to Lenoir City and then to Knoxville after a 10-day visit to Chattanooga, according to Matt Emmons, Chickamauga lockmaster.
The lead vessel was the Nina, a replica of the ship that Columbus sailed across the Atlantic on his three voyages of discovery to the new world beginning in 1492, according to the Columbus Foundation’s brochure. Columbus reportedly sailed the tiny ship more than 25,000 miles.
With a 65-foot length, 18-foot beam, seven-foot draft, 75-ton rating and 1,919 square foot sail area, the Foundation claims the Nina is the most historically accurate Columbus Replica Ship ever built.
The Pinta, the Foundation’s second Columbus Replica Ship, was recently built in Brazil to accompany the Nina on all of her travels, according to Sanger. With an 85-foot length, 23-foot beam, 7.5-foot draft, 101-ton rating and 3,800 square foot sail area, she is a larger version of the archetypal caravel.
The Pinta offers larger deck space for walk-aboard tours and has a 40-foot main cabin down below with seating. She is available for private parties and charters.
The two vessels are floating museums and visit ports throughout the Western Hemisphere, funded entirely by fees paid to tour the ships, according to the Columbus Foundation.
They are navigating the Tennessee River via the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District’s navigation locks, with a Lenoir City visit scheduled Oct. 22-23, and a Knoxville visit scheduled Oct. 25-Nov. 5.
For additional information on these floating museums, go to http://thenina.com/.
The old Chattanooga Lock again demonstrated its value.
The $705 million Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project to replace the 73-year-old, badly deteriorating 60-by-360-foot lock with a 110-by-600-foot chamber is 26 percent completed, with $185 million obligated.
Existing construction contracts on the Chickamauga Lock Replacement Lock project will be completed this year. If no additional funding is received construction will be suspended.
“Nashville District’s goal is to complete the new lock before closure becomes necessary,” said Jamie James, project manager. “There are three navigation locks and 318 navigable stream miles upstream of Chickamauga Lock that would be isolated from the Inland Waterways System if the lock is closed. This would present difficulties in transporting materials to upstream industries, including TVA nuclear power plants, U.S. Department of Energy facilities at Oak Ridge, and the loss of transportation rate savings in that area,” James added.
For more news, updates and information, please follow the Nashville District on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.