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Posted 6/21/2016

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By Sean McBride


The sound of shattering glass culminated the end of a memorable day as the Survey Vessel Heiselman was officially christened as the newest boat in the Charleston District’s fleet.

The SV Heiselman is named after Gene Heiselman, the former Charleston District boat captain. Heiselman spent 30 years with the District, captaining three other vessels over that time. Heiselman was instrumental in the procurement of the SV Evans, which is currently the District’s main survey vessel for large projects.

“I remember a man that was unselfish when it came to doing things for others,” said Chris Wright, engineering technician. “I saw that when I worked with him, and in how he spent a lot of time in his retirement serving in the American Legion honor guard, ensuring that those who have served us received the honor they deserved at their passing. Today we honor his memory with our newest survey vessel.”

Heiselman also captained the SV Wilson, which was officially transitioned out of the fleet with the christening of the SV Heiselman. The SV Heiselman will serve as the District’s primary small boat survey vessel, carrying the full complement of survey gear and allowing the District to bridge the gap between our inshore and offshore vessels. At 26 feet long, the SV Heiselman has a catamaran-style hull, which allows for calmer and safer rides for the crew. The boat features a button inside the cabin, which allows the captain to deploy the survey equipment automatically, a custom captain’s chair, a throttle system like those on jet planes, and a powered hydraulic steering system to make turning a breeze.

After the official ceremony, with speeches and remarks by family and former colleagues, Heiselman’s family moved down to the dock to conduct the christening. Heiselman’s son, the third Gene in the family, broke a bottle of champagne over the bow of the boat to christen the vessel. The christening of a boat by breaking a bottle dates back to the 1700’s with the British Navy and has been continued ever since.

The SV Heiselman will now serve as the District’s main vessel for conducting surveys of smaller projects, such as the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

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