THE PORT OF BALTIMORE • June 25,2003
Story & Photography by Kathy Bergren Smith
A million things can go wrong on a ship from main engine failure to problems with the galley mixer motor. Standing ready 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Baltimore’s mobile ship repairers provide the shipyard and workboat services needed to keep these complex vessels on their schedules.
Baltimore’s proud reputation as a port with the highest quality mobile repair capability rests in the hands of General Ship Repair Corporation: a company with “Deep Draft” capabilities in the Inner Harbor.
MOBILE SHIP REPAIR IN BALTIMORE COVERS ALL BASES
Cary Lynch, Vice President of General Ship Repair, speaks to the shipping agent in the measured tones of a doctor delivering a list of possible surgical complications. His calm demeanor reassures the anxious agent who is fretting over whether the patient, in this case a bulk carrier with a leaking water pipe, will be able to leave Baltimore in time to pick up its next cargo in New Orleans. “We have a diver on standby just in case we find the sea valves are leaking when we get in there,” says Lynch from General Ship’s Key Highway office. It’s the same office where, beginning in 1924, his grandfather, then father, repaired leaking ships and reassured agents. “Our top priority is to keep vessels on schedule. We understand that we are a cog in a much larger mechanism,” says Lynch. This is the root of General Ship’s tradition of doing whatever it takes to get the job done well and quickly.
Key Highway has been a hub of ship repairs since it was built in 1914. Today, General Ship stands ready with its recently expanded drydock and down-river repair crews. The blue headquarters of General Ship
Repair, next to the Museum of Industry, serves as one of the last living-history pieces of Baltimore’s industrial heritage. But this is no museum. Pickup trucks make their way in and out of the iron gates en route to ships in need at the Port’s berths. General Ship Repair provides welders, fitters and other shipyard tradesmen, returning parts to the yard’s machine shop for additional work if necessary. The firm also provides riding crews who travel with a ship to make repairs while it is underway. “The flow doesn’t stop for ship repair, we know that,” says Lynch. General Ship’s crane testing can be done while a ship is loading and unloading. “We have the resources to handle basically any down-river repair work that comes along,” says President Derick Lynch, Cary’s brother. “Ship repair has always been our bailiwick.” “This is what we have been doing all of our lives,” adds Cary Lynch.
The genial Lynch brothers, Derick, Michael, and Cary who serves as the company’s Vice President
and Operations Manager, started working summers during high school under the tutelage of their father, Jack Lynch. Now, their own high school-aged sons are poised to carry General Ship into the fourth generation.