Cakewalk in Cradles on Airslides

Cakewalk in Cradle on Airslides


The cradle was made up of sixteen (16) steel I-beam modules, connected by a side longitudinal beam P & S, as well as the boat. There were two Aerogo airslides under each module P & S for a total of thirty-two (32) airslides. Each airslide was a palletized hovercraft,  5′ in diameter and capable of lifting 100 tons up 4″. The total lift capacity was 3200 tons and the ship and cradle’s projected weight was 2,000 tons, so we were safe. The airlsides needed a good smooth surface to be effective , which we had, and it was tricky to cross the bridge to the dry-dock. The dry-dock had an elevated ramp to help with altitude, but also offered a good smooth air tight surface for the airslides.

We had seven (7) compressors supplying compressed air to all of them. One of the orange valve manifolds is just to the right of the two men in the foreground. To the left of them and in the lower right corner of the photo, too, are guiding posts with two forklift solid rubber tires on them. The longitudinal side beam of the cradle could roll against them and keep on track. Once you are up on air you would start going downhill, off track perhaps, so we had rollers to guide us.

We were concerned about gaining speed and speed was our enemy. In fact we still had to pull against friction to get things to move downhill toward the water.  To the right of the cradle you can see the five sheave pulley and cables which are running to the biggest winch I have ever seen. We had an equally big winch at the other end of the cradle for braking.