Video: How to Destroy a Boat


On July 11, 2011, I got to witness the demolition of the Miss China, a 67-foot former commercial fishing boat with an interesting history. In 2010 the disabled wood-hulled former shrimper was being used as the floating home of Nantucket scalloper Joe Dooley and his 4 dogs, until it broke free of its mooring in Nantucket Harbor in a December gale and grounded in front of Brant Point Light.

The Miss China at Steamboat Wharf in Nantucket Harbor after being towed from Brant Point. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class James Rhodes, U.S. Coast Guard.
The Miss China beached at Brant Point after the December gale. Photo courtesy Jim Powers, Staff Photographer/Inquirer and Mirror.

Since Dooley apparently didn’t have the funds to pay for the removal of the ship, the town of Nantucket took possession of the vessel and paid Fairhaven, Massachusetts-based Tucker Roy Marine Towing and Salvage to tow the ship to New Bedford. The Miss China sat on a mooring in New Bedford Harbor for the next 7 months while any fuel, oil and pollutants, along with salvageable rigging and other items, were removed the ship.

The Miss China is lifted from the water at Fairhaven Shipyard. Photo by ## Tom Richardson##

In mid-July the 180-ton Miss China was towed to Fairhaven Shipyard, where it was lifted from the water on a 400-ton TraveLift and lowered into a hopper barge. Once the ship was secured with boat stands, the barge was moved via tug to a location just north of the Rte. 6 swing bridge on the New Bedford side of the harbor.

Workers place stands under the Miss China after the ship was lowered into the hopper barge at Fairhaven Shipyard. Photo by ## Tom Richardson##

The next day I visited the site and watched as Jonny Roy expertly dismantled the ship with the excavator equipped with a massive pair of hydraulic shears, assisted by his older brother, Conrad Jr. While I’ve seen numerous boats being constructed, this was the first time I’d witnessed the “de-struction” of a vessel. Roy was amazingly skillful, carefully ripping open the side of the ship and plucking fuel tanks, a generator and even the ship’s wheel with the shears.

Conrad Roy Jr. displays the ship's wheel, its spokes badly chewed by the former owner's dogs. Photo by ## Tom Richardson##

It was all very interesting, although I have to admit to feeling a twinge of sadness as the Miss China was reduced to scraps of lumber in a matter of hours. After all, a boat is more than just the sum of its parts—it contains the experiences and memories of those who crewed aboard the vessel, as well as storms endured and various ports of call.

Then again, maybe it was just an old rustbucket that smelled of dog.


An excavator armed with giant shears rips into the Miss China as the demo begins. Photos by ## Tom Richardson##

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