Cape Avinof - T-AK 5013

Conversion of P 61x Mariner Class Cargo Ship casting by Terry Holtham 2013

Cape Avinof State T-AK 5013 by Terry Holtham

For the fifth conversion I chose Cape Avinof T-AK 5013 as the subject - a MARAD Cape 'A' Class ship which I noted had a different bridge arrangement, a taller funnel set further back, and a much shorter foredeck with an additional mast house and cargo hatch on the main deck in front of the superstructure.

Cape Avinof (ex African Sun), one of five sister ships built for Farrell Line by Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation at Pascagoula, Mississippi in 1968 (MARAD Hull No 107), was a Marad C4-S-58a design Break Bulk Cargo Ship.

African Sun and her four sister ships African Mercury, African Meteor, African Neptune, and African Comet were traded in to MARAD in 1980 and assigned to the Ready Reserve Fleet (RRF) as Cape Avinof (T-AK 5013), Cape Ann (T-AK 5009), Cape Alexander (T-AK 5010), Cape Archway (T-AK 5011), and Cape Alva (T-AK 5012) respectively. African Dawn was also traded in to MARAD as "Dawn" and retained in the RRF to provide spares for her sisters in the Cape 'A' Class.

In 1990 Cape Avinof and two of her sisters, Cape Ann & Cape Archway, were fitted with "hover only" flight decks under the MSNAP program to enable them to provide limited vertical replenishment (VERTREP) services to US Navy ships using the receiving ships' helicopters. At the same time they were also fitted with two (2) short King posts and a sliding pad-eye system on the starboard side to allow them to conduct connected underway replenishment consolidation (UNREP Consol) operations.

As noted in the article introducing my models a little imagination and some artistic license is required when converting the Mariner Class castings. In this case Cape Avinof is about 8 ft longer than the C4-S-1a ships which at 1:1200 scale means the model is about 0.08 in (2 mm) too long but in my view this does not detract from the finished model.


Again the model chosen was a Matson livery P611 because the funnel is the correct shape. First I removed the metal lifeboats and plastic masts then unscrewed the superstructure and put the screw aside in a safe place. The bridge on the Cape Avinof is higher and the funnel is set further back so I then set about drilling and filing with a needle file to remove the metal funnel from its housing which took a little effort. With the model disassembled the hull, superstructure and funnel were given a bath in paint remover, rinsed, scrubbed with an old toothbrush and polished up with a copper wire brush to prepare the metal for repainting.

Modifications & Additions::

As noted, in addition to the differences in the bridge and funnel, the C4-S-58a ships also have a much shorter foredeck than the C4-S-1a Mariner Class ships with an additional cargo hatch and derrick house on the main deck in front of the superstructure so this conversion involved a lot of filing!

As you can see in the following photos the biggest job was filing away the foredeck ...

The second main area of filing was the superstructure - basically everything above the two ladders on the bridge sides had to be removed and the deck made flush. (As noted in the Cape Bover article this is better done with the superstructure fixed to the hull with the screw)

The winches and lugs for the masts just forward of the bridge were also filed off and the top of the aft deckhouse (docking bridge) was filed flush to enable the flight deck to be fitted.

With all the filing completed I then -

Milliput was used to fill all the mounting holes in the mast houses and decks as well as the mounting holes for the lifeboats. The new mast uprights were then fabricated from 1.0 mm x 1.5 mm plasticard approximately 15 mm in height and glued in place on the sides of the mast houses - note the masts at No 3 mast house are DOUBLE thickness.

Shorter lengths of 0.5 mm square plasticard were glued to the starboard outside face of No 3 mast (forward) and No 5 mast (aft) to represent the King posts and sliding pad-eye system used for connected underway replenishment consolidation (UNREP Consol) operations.

The new Bridge was created from a block of 2.5 mm x 11 mm plasticard 6.0 mm in length with two "stub" masts of 1.0 mm x 1.5 mm plasticard approximately 5.0 mm in height and finally the flight deck was made from 0.5 mm thick plasticard measured by reference to the photographs and cut to shape.

With all the masts in place I added cross members of 1.5 mm x 0.5 mm plasticard to No 1 & No 3 masts (forward) and No 4 mast on top of the bridge then gave everything a good undercoat of Humbrol 128 (US Compass Grey) applied with a Size 1 brush.

I then turned my attention to the funnel - the base is a piece of 1.5 mm thick plasticard approximately 10 mm in length and 7 mm wide. The funnel on the C4-S-58a is taller than the funnel on the C4-S-1a Mariner Class ships so I left the fixing lug on the base of the original funnel to provide a "key" for the Milliput filler that was used to build and shape the bottom of the funnel.

I added the SATNAV dome using a hat pin and fitted the top masts (made from 0.5mm diameter brass wire) to No 1 mast (forward) and No 4 mast on top of the bridge.

To make fitting of the derricks easier very small pieces of 0.5 mm square plastruct were glued to the front and back of each of the masts and to the front of the superstructure. A similar piece was glued to the top of the No 3 mast house (forward) as a "heel" for the heavy lift derrick.

With all the fittings in place it was time to paint the model - the main decks, decks around the superstructure, and the flight deck were all given two coats of Humbrol 125 (US Dark Grey) and allowed to dry off completely. The superstructure, mast housings, masts, hatches and underside of the flight deck were then painted Humbrol 128 (US Compass Grey) and the SATNAV dome was painted gloss white. Once everything was completely dry the hull was given another two coats of Humbrol 128 which dries with a satin finish.

Next I prepared -

When everything was thoroughly dry the waterline was added in Humbrol 33 (Matt Black), two thin white lines were applied to the flight deck using reference photos for location, and the funnel cap was painted Humbrol 33 (Matt Black). I used sellotape to mask the hull and flight deck as is my standard practice.

I then finished assembling the superstructure and screwed it firmly back in place - a fine black ink pen was used to fill in the window recesses and create the additional portholes/windows around the superstructure and other markings on the engine casing below the funnel. Finally the heavy lift derrick was fitted and the forklifts and cargo were glued in place on the flight deck and in front of the superstructure.

When all dry and hardened up the whole model was given a good coat of Humbrol Satin Cote varnish and left to dry off overnight.

The penultimate job was to fit all the derricks, which had been prepared, cut, painted and varnished before fixing. As with the other models I started from forward fitting the derricks in pairs with Evostick and placing a length of plasticard block across the hatch to support the derricks in an angled position and allowing a certain period of time between fitting each each pair for the glue to set.

Finally the raised walkway between the flight deck and superstructure, which similarly had been painted and varnished before fixing, was fitted in place - to have fitted it earlier would have meant not being able to put a block across the rear hatches for fitting the derricks. A few minor touch ups with Humbrol 128 and the model was finished.

Paints Colour Description
Humbrol 128 "US Compass Grey" (Satin) "Haze Grey" Hull / Vertical Surfaces / Cranes / Masts etc
Humbrol 125 "US Gull Grey" (Satin) Dark Grey Deck Surfaces
Humbrol 33 Black (Matt) Black Waterline / Boot Topping, Funnel Cap, Highlights
Humbrol 82 "Orange Lining" (Matt) Orange Lifeboats
Humbrol 154 "Insignia Yellow" (Matt) Yellow Forklifts
Humbrol 22 White (Gloss) White Radar "Golfball" Dome
Humbrol Satin Cote Varnish Overall finish
Pilot DR Ink Pen (Size 0.1 & 0.2) Black Ink Windows and other markings

(For comparative paint colours please have a look at the "Paints / Colours" page)

Material Description
Paint Stripper Blackfriars Paint & Varnish Remover
(but Nitromors or Polycell should work as well)
Filler Milliput Epoxy Putty
Plastic Sheet / Section / Rod Plasticard / Styrene -
Square Section
Rectangular Section
0.25mm / 0.5mm / 1.5mm
0.5 mm / 2.0 mm
0.5mm x 1.5mm
1.0mm x 1.5mm
2.0mm x 7.0mm
2.5mm x 11.0mm
Metal Rod 0.45mm & 0.8mm diameter brass wire

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T-AK 5011 Cape Archway

Cape Archway T-AK 5011 courtesy MARAD
Photograph courtesy of MARAD


Name: SS African Sun - IMO 5004398 / Cape Avinof (T-AK 5013)
Sister Ships: SS African Mercury - IMO 5004245 / Cape Ann (T-AK 5009)
SS African Meteor - IMO 5004257 / Cape Alexander (T-AK 5010)
SS African Neptune - IMO 5004283 / Cape Archway (T-AK 5011)
SS African Comet - IMO 5004099 / Cape Alava (T-AK 5012)
Owner: Farrell Lines
Builders: Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation, Pascagoula, Mississippi - Yard No. 479
Design: C4-S-58a - MARAD Hull no. 107
Launched: 1962
Displacement: 11,309 tons / 12,728 deadweight tons
Length (OA): 572 ft ( 174.4 m )
Beam: 75 ft ( 22.9 m )
Draft: 30 ft 6 in ( 9.3 m )
Propulsion: Two (2) Foster Wheeler WT boilers, General Electric geared steam turbine, single shaft / screw, 23,500 HP
Maximum Speed: 21.5 knots
Cargo Capacity: 614,700 Cubic Feet / 17,408 Cubic Metres / 400+ teu
Crew: 32 Civilian Mariners (Full Operational Status)
9 Civilian Mariners (Reduced Operational Status)
History: 1980 traded in to MARAD renamed Cape Avinof and allocated to Ready Reserve Fleet at James River, Virginia
1990 activated for Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm
2004 transferred to the National Defense Reserve Fleet and laid up at James River, Virginia
Status / Disposal: retained in the James River Reserve Fleet for training use

Further information can be obtained from the following links -
MARAD Web Site History of Cape Alava T-AK 5012
The Navsource Web Site

Details of my other conversions can be accessed from the "Resources" menu - "Upgrades & Conversions" sub-menu OR from the links below.

Introduction Cape 'A' Class Cape 'B' Class Cape 'G' Class Cape 'J' Class Crane Ship