Below Deck on Steam Tug HERCULES

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

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September 17, 2013 Ranger JR: Hello. You’re with Ranger JR, for another behind the scenes tour. Today we’re going down below deck on the steam tug Hercules. Ranger Chris: Hello, welcome down below to the crew’s area here on Hercules. We’ll give you a quick look around here. You’ll see there are still some bunks from this ship’s working days, though not as many as there would have been when it was brand new. When new, this was an ocean going tug and would have gone out to sea for many days. Later the ship worked in San Francisco Bay and at that time more lockers were needed than bunks. But, this is the area that would have been the crews’ private living space. However, there are always working elements here too. JR is now walking forward to one of the smaller steam engines on board. This is the steam-powered anchor windlass that would have pulled up the anchor and chain. The chain itself would have been pulled up and then lowered down below. Lowered, in fact, to the area we are now standing on. So let’s go on down and take a look there. So, down here in the lower hold, one of the things you can spot right away is this wooden box. This is the chain locker where all the anchor chain was kept after it was lowered down below deck. The chain would come down through a hole here and a crew member would use this hook to pull it into the area where it needed to be stored, so as it came down it could be evenly layered in the box so that the next time it was used, it would not get snagged up. But, in addition to the storage of the chain itself, there is storage for crew purposes as well. There’s plenty of space down here for storage of food or other items that would be needed on a long voyage. Also, off to the side here, you’ll see a large tank. This was their fresh water tank. There was no ability to make fresh water on board, so they had to take it all with them. So for drinking purposes this was another vital, important element. But, primarily we wanted to give you an idea of how large even a relatively small ship can seem when you get down below deck. We are now two levels down below at this point so we hope you’ve enjoyed this quick look down below on Hercules.


Take a tour with some Park Rangers as they go way below the main deck on Steam Tug Hercules to give you a look at little-seen places.