The Baylander calls Pier 5 home till September

All aboard! Former Navy ship docking for tours at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Fair-weather friend: The Baylander, a Vietnam-era helicopter training vessel, is docked at Brooklyn Bridge Park until September.
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These anchors won’t be aweigh for a while.

The Baylander, a decommissioned Navy ship capable of launching helicopters, has taken anchor along the shore of Brooklyn Bridge Park and will be open to the public for tours starting this weekend. The ship’s new owner said he was initially unsure of what to do with his acquisition, but he likes the idea of showing people the ropes — and gauges and charts.

“We hadn’t really figured out what to do with it yet,” said Al Trenk, who operates the West 30th Street Heliport in Manhattan. “But we knew we’d be able to find a place where it could give something back to the community.”

The 131-foot vessel first saw service in Vietnam in 1968, he said. The Navy converted it into a training ship for helicopter pilots in 1986, and it has seen 120,000 landings on its deck over the years since, according to Trenk.

Trenk bought the boat two years ago.

It will sit in its temporary resting place at Pier 5 until September, offering tours on weekends and serving as a training boat for the New York Harbor School.

The ship, which sits beside the Brooklyn Bridge Park soccer fields, is providing another service to the community as well, its skipper explained.

“We’ve rescued seven soccer balls so far,” said captain Scott Koen, showing off an extra-long pool skimmer he assembled for the purpose.

The Baylander’s residency is also a placeholder for the upcoming Brooklyn Bridge Park marina, which is set to open in April, 2015. The facility is set to include 120 berths and run community sailing and boating programs like the Baylander’s, according to marina developer Edgewater Resources.

“This project will only help us achieve our mission — further connecting the people of Brooklyn and New York City to the waterfront and its harbor,” said marina director Timothy O’Brien.

The Baylander at Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park (Near the Atlantic Avenue entrance at Furman Street in Brooklyn Heights, July 26–Sept. 1. Saturdays 10 am–4 pm, Sundays 10 am–2 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
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