MORGAN CITY — The time-honored tradition of christening boats continued on Friday with the launching of the “Thunder” at Conrad Shipyard’s facility on Front Street on Berwick Bay.
The push boat is part of an order for two push boats and four barges that Conrad is building for Harley Marine, based in Washington state.
“I love it. So far, I’m impressed with the work,” Stephen Estep, port captain and interim general manager for Harley Marine’s Gulf Unit, said.
Estep christened the vessel by breaking a bottle of wine on it.
“This boat will probably end up pushing a two-piece unit up and down the Intracoastal Waterway between Baton Rouge and maybe as far west as Brownsville, Texas,” Estep said.
The Rev. Gregg Fratt of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Morgan City did the blessing.
“It’s always a great occasion. This is so much a part of our culture here. Whenever people ask to have their boat blessed, it’s always an indication of their faith and their trust in God,” he said.
Fratt said that he has performed boat blessings “many, many times before, and I always enjoy doing it.
“I love being by the water,” he said. “I grew up in Arizona where we had no water.”
Gary Lipely, director of marketing and sales for Conrad Shipyard, said, “We’ve been working a long time with Harley Marine to earn their business.”
The Thunder, Lipely said, “will be used to move and position 30,000 barrel double-skin tank barges that we are also building for them.”
He said that a sister ship called Lightning “will be done in mid-November.”