If you had expected to hunt ghosts on the American Victory this Halloween in Tampa's Channelside district, better come up with an alternate plan.
The historic ship that sits behind the Florida Aquarium is being moved across the channel at 8 a.m. Friday for a drydocking period at Gulf Marine Repair's floating drydock, Scotia, according to a news release.
The drydocking is a requirement of the U.S. Coast Guard in order for the vessel to return to its Relive History Cruises in 2012. It's expected to stay there for about 10 days. Its last drydocking was in 2006.
The ship's museum will be closed, and the Friday and Saturday Ghosts of the Grey Lady event produced by Tampa Bay Ghost Hunters will be postponed until Nov. 4 and 11. Tickets and vouchers will be honored at the door. The Oct. 28 and 29 Halloween Ghost Ship are canceled. Refunds can be obtained at point of purchase.
The drydocking happens like this: A U-shaped dock is sunk to allow the vessel to enter and be centered into position. When the ship is in position, the water in the ballast tanks of the drydock is pumped out and the dock rises to meet the ship. The ship is then lifted out of the water by the upward motion of the dock.
Drydocking the American Victory is no small task. The 10,000-plus deadweight ton cargo vessel is a big load, said the release. The cost for the drydocking and all associated repairs is expected to exceed $220,000, and a committee chaired by Aaron Hendry of Gulf Marine Repair has been formed to accept contributions and in-kind donations.
As one of only four fully operational WWII ships in the country, the American Victory is an American icon. Other ships include the S.S. John W. Brown in Baltimore; S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien in San Francisco; and the S.S. Lane Victory in the Port of Los Angeles.
As for the Relive History Cruise that precipitated the drydocking, the ship's last one was in May 2009. On the cruise, more than 500 passengers are taken on a journey from its permanent berth to the Skyway Bridge. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are included, and a variety of entertainment is offered. A cruise date is expected to be announced soon.
For more information on the American Victory, visit www.americanvictory.org.