SURVEYOR'S NOTEBOOK

Goodbye Goltens New York

By Rik van Hemmen

This week is a sad week for New York Maritime. Engine repairer extraordinaire, Goltens, has announced that they will be closing their shop in Brooklyn. Goltens New York was the last classic marine engine repair shop in the port of New York.

Maritime is an incredibly dynamic business and we all know that nothing stays the same, but change can be crushing. Maritime’s extraordinarily high level of cooperation and innovation results in incredibly high levels of ruthless efficiency (and reduced engine failures!). For so many years Goltens New York led in providing those efficiencies. But footprints in the port of New York, especially in rapidly gentrifying Red Hook, Brooklyn, are expensive and at a certain stage new approaches need to be developed.

But this means that while the maritime world, overall, will always become more efficient, the port of New York will become less efficient. Goltens was a New York Institution. All of us at Martin & Ottaway (including our newest surveyor, Hannah van Hemmen, just a few weeks ago) enjoyed nothing more than seeing the friendly faces, the beautiful equipment and the tricky repairs at the Goltens shop. It felt real and comforting at the same time.

No longer will we be able to arrive at a ship in the cold dark night in New York harbor and see an engine that is not going to run any time soon and say to the Owner: “Call Goltens”.

Saying: “Call Goltens” would mean that in a few hours we would be able to leave the ship and know that, whatever the damage was, the engine was being repaired better and quicker than just about any place in the world. And always honestly and at the fairest price.

Still, let’s remember we are talking about a place, the people will still be here; it will just be a little more difficult to put them together when the need arises. Goltens will still be providing repair services, and most certainly we will be calling on them, we will just not be meeting in Brooklyn. Good luck Goltens guys, we’ll see you on the ships. If we have time, maybe we’ll detour for meatballs at the Ikea in Red Hook.

2018 update: The space that Goltens occupied in Red Hook is now a Tesla dealership. Somehow there is some technological poetry there.

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