The National Maritime Historical Society

Checking in with Columbia

We reported on the excursion steamer Columbia one year ago in Sea History 149 (Winter 2014–15). Believed to be the oldest intact remaining passenger steamer in the country, the veteran of nearly 90 years of ferrying passengers back and forth to Bob-Lo Island had been towed to the Toledo, Ohio, Ironhead Marine for initial cleanup and repairs before making the journey to Buffalo, NY, where work continues.

Photo: Joe Russello for the SS Columbia ProjectWe’ve received this year-end update from the good folks at the SS Columbia Project:

We have made tremendous progress in the past year. Columbia has undergone a $1.6 million hull restoration. The boat has traveled over 250 nautical miles, glided across three rivers—Detroit, Maumee, and Buffalo—and crossed Lake Erie. She has passed the shorelines of three states—Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—before landing for the first time in New York State.

It was a memorable experience to watch. A flotilla led by the fireboat Edward M. Cotter, the tall ship Spirit of Buffalo, and private vessels, from sailboats to kayaks, greeted our steamboat as she came into Buffalo Harbor.  Columbia is now docked in the Buffalo River at Silo City, where our crew has prepared her for winter.

Columbia was built in 1902 by the Detroit Dry Dock Company in Wyandotte, Michigan. Her designer was the well-known naval architect Frank Kirby, working with artist and architect Louis O. Keil. She carried passengers from Detroit to the amusement park on Boblo Island. The 80-minute cruise was an attraction in its own right; Columbia had a full-sized ballroom and bands played popular music to entertain the crowds. Columbia and her “little sister,” Ste. Claire, the “Boblo boats,” served the island until 1991, just two years before the amusement park closed altogether.

The Boblo boats were declared national Historic Landmark Vessels in 1992; unfortunately, campaigns to restore them and find new homes for them weren’t able to secure the funding necessary for the undertaking. New York preservationist Richard Anderson formulated a plan to bring Columbia to the Hudson River, which had its own heyday of steam ferries, to serve as a cultural flagship reconnecting New York City to the waterfront cities and towns along the scenic Hudson Valley. Mr. Anderson passed away in 2013, but SS Columbia Project is continuing his work to make Columbia‘s new mission a reality.

 

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Remembering the “Ship of Miracles”

Staff Officer Robert Lunney (photo courtesy RADM Lunney)

Staff Officer Robert Lunney (photo courtesy RADM Lunney)

In February of 2013, Rear Admiral Robert Lunney presented a talk for the NMHS Charles Point Council seminar series, The Hungnam Evacuation and the Ship of Miracles in the Korean War. RADM Lunney, a longtime friend of NMHS and former president of the NY chapter of the US Navy League, told us about his experience aboard SS Meredith Victory with the extraordinary rescue of 14,000 Korean men, women, and children in December 1950.

RADM Lunney has shared with us this article in last week’s Korea Herald commemorating the anniversary of that momentous event. To learn even more about that amazing rescue, check out the book Ship of Miracles: 14,000 Lives and One Miraculous Voyage, or the documentary video Ship of Miracles.

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Opportunity to Sail a Viking Ship Across the Atlantic

Draken-1200_628_01-10-1024x539Do you think you’ve got the Viking spirit? Expedition America 2016 is looking for a few good men and women to crew aboard Draken Harald Hårfagre (Dragon Harald Fairhair), the largest viking ship built in modern times. The ship will leave her home port in Haugesund, Norway, in May 2016 to voyage across the North Atlantic Ocean. The journey will recreate the first transatlantic crossing, and the Viking discovery of the New World, more than a thousand years ago. The project will, like Leif Eriksson, create cross-border meetings and inspire people to go beyond the horizon in a modern Viking saga. Along the route, the ship will touch on Iceland and Greenland, and then to the US and Canada, passing Viking settlements and new archaeological findings.

While Draken Harald Hårfagre is not a replica, she was constructed based on knowledge of traditional Viking boatbuilding, descriptions in Old Norse literature and foreign contemporary sources , visual representations of Viking ships, old sailing records, and the example of the construction of the Gokstad ship. Construction began in 2010. Launched in 2012, the ship sailed in the waters along the Norwegian coast, making her first ocean voyage from Haugesund, Norway, to Liverpool,  UK, and back.

Draken-1200_628_02.-01pg-1024x539Expedition 2016 is looking for volunteers to crew the ship for at least a two-month leg of the journey. It’s not an undertaking for the faint of heart or delicate of hairstyle; the ship’s design is open-deck, with just a tent for shelter. But the stories to take home will last a lifetime for a lucky few.

Photos courtesy Expedition America 2016; photographer Peder Jacobsson

 

 

 

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In the Pages of Sea History 153

Sea History 153 is in the mail and on the newsstands. Just look at what’s in this issue:

National Teacher Joseph Hughes & Matthew Blount iHistory Day—Prizes in Maritime History
Meet the winners of this year’s NMHS maritime history competition, part of the National History Day program. More than half a million middle and high school students take part in the NHD research-project competition.

Cutterman Hugh George Campbell: Master and Commander of Super-Cutter Eagle and Forgotten Hero of the Quasi War, by William H. Thiesen
Hugh Campbell served his country in four naval wars as a patriot, cutterman, combat captain, and senior naval officer. In a two-year campaign in the West Indies during the Quasi War, Campbell and his crew captured twenty-two privateers, prize ships, and enemy merchantmen, while destroying a number of others. All this was achieved without losing a single member of his crew.

H4 NMMA New Look at the Longitude Problem,” by Daniel McFadden
The exhibition Ships, Clocks, and Stars: The Quest for Longitude, produced by the National Maritime Museum in London, takes into consideration the many angles and players who were working on solving the great challenge of their time. For a limited time, the exhibition is on display at Mystic Seaport, offering the chance to see Harrison’s famous sea clocks up close.

Trade vs. Diplomacy: The Problem of the Free Port Marstrand During the American Revolution, by Rikard Drakenlordh
During the War for Independence, American shipowners sought to establish trading partners around the world, both for economic interests and to supply the fighting forces at home with much-needed supplies. Great Britain tried to quash this attempt. Caught in the middle were neutral nations trying to establish free ports.

Dr. Robert Ballard watches the bow of the Titanic 6/4 come into view on plasma screens in the control van, as the ROV Hercules photographs the shipreck on HD cameras 12,500 feet below. NOAA oceanographer Catalina Martinez sits to his left. She is part of the ocean exploration program, which supported the expedition by providing the NOAA research vessel Ronald H. Brown.

Maritime Archaeology in the 21st Century, by James P. Delgado
Advances in technology, awareness, and education, and a shift in how both academia and the diving community view shipwrecks, have driven the field of maritime archaeology into a new era. James Delgado, director of NOAA’s Maritime Heritage Program, traces the evolution of the field from its beginnings to how maritime archaeology is practiced today.
Find this article in Featured Articles from Sea History

Sailors in Distress: The Origins of the First Federal Healthcare Legislation, by Harold D. Langley

V0020360 Two sailors with amputated legs, an eyepatch and an amputate Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Two sailors with amputated legs, an eyepatch and an amputated arm moving with the aid of crutches. Etching by S.B., 1783. 1783 By: S. B.after: Edward YoungPublished: 20 September 1783 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Wellcome Library, London. http://wellcomeimages.org

One of the first orders of business for the First Federal Congress when it met in 1789 was to address who would pay for the care of stranded American seamen in foreign ports and sick and disabled seamen who arrived in American ports with no one to take them in.

 

 

This issue’s cover is  Eagle and Constitution on Convoy Duty, April 1799, digital painting by Peter Rindlisbacher.

 

Plus, you’ll find the regular features you look forward to in every issue:

Deck Log
Letters
NMHS: A Cause in Motion
Marine Art News
Sea History for Kids
Ship Notes, Seaport & Museum News
Calendar
Maritime History on the Internet
Book Reviews

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Colombian Government Reports Identification of San Jose Shipwreck

GalleonThe government of Colombia has announced that it has located the remains of the Spanish galleon San Jose, lost in a battle against the British ship Expedition, in the War of Spanish Succession, 307 years ago. The wreck, located not far from Cartagena, is believed to be carrying a cargo including gold, silver and emeralds, with a value estimated to be in the billions.

The wreck is reported to be in a location different from that of a site previously believed to be the San Jose, a site which inspired lawsuits between the Colombian government and the American salvage company Sea Search Armada over the ownership and disposition of items to be recovered.

Read More About It:

Wreck Of Legendary Spanish Galleon Is Finally Found, Colombia Says

Colombia treasure-laden San Jose galleon ‘is found’

Colombia to build museum for Spanish galleon discovery, president says

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Free Weekday Admission to Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in February

CBMM_FreeinFebruaryThanks to generous sponsor support, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum will be offering free admission Monday through Friday during the month of February. Free admission covers access to the entire museum, including the working boatyard and 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse, as well as numerous permanent and changing exhibitions along CBMM’s waterfront campus in historic St. Michaels, MD.

The Free in February program includes President’s Day, and is made possible through the generous sponsor support of the Talbot Bank and Awful Arthur’s of St. Michaels, MD. Guests will also receive a voucher for a 15% discount off of a meal at Awful Arthur’s on the day of the museum visit.

CBMM_FreeinFebruary_Boatshop“Winter offers a great time to explore our 12 exhibition buildings and beautiful campus, especially while enjoying the town’s great restaurants, shops, hotels and inns,” said CBMM’s President Kristen Greenaway. “We have a great number of inside exhibitions for all ages to enjoy, the waterfowl are abundant along a quieter harbor and the Miles River, and you can see great things happening in our boatyard as education programs and the restoration of our historic fleet of Chesapeake vessels ramp up in the colder months.”

CBMM_FreeinFebruary_BroadReachGuests can also take in the exhibition  A Broad Reach: 50 Years of Collecting, which features 50 significant objects that have been accessioned into the museum’s collection over the past 50 years, presented on both floors of the Steamboat Building. The exhibition will be closing to the public in 2016.

Admission will be free weekdays in February for all museum guests. General admission is otherwise good for two consecutive days and is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students with ID, $6 for children 6-17, and free for museum members and children five and under. The museum is open 10 AM to 4 PM seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

 

 

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SS United States Conservancy Announces Preliminary Agreement

The SS United States Conservancy (SSUSC) has announced that it has entered into a preliminary agreement in support of the redevelopment of SS United States. While few details are available at this time, the SSUSC issued a press release announcing the agreement on Monday.

Designed by William Francis Gibbs and built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, SS United States was subsidized by the US government with the understanding that she would be repurposed for troop transport should the need ever arise. Strict US Navy standards were observed, including compartmentalization to combat flooding and dual engine rooms for redundancy in case one of them was rendered inoperable. Designer Gibbs also went to great lengths to prevent the threat of fire; no wood was permitted in any of the public rooms, with the famous exception of the grand pianos and the catering crew’s butcher blocks.

United States undertook her maiden voyage on 3 July 1952 from New York to Le Havre and Southampton, and on that voyage set a record for the eastbound crossing by a liner, earning the ship the historic Blue Riband for her achievement. The ship enjoyed a decade of prestige, hosting statesmen and celebrities on the Atlantic. The 1960s saw a decline in ocean travel, and in 1969 she was removed from service. She changed hands multiple times since retirement, and has been berthed in Philadelphia since 1996. The SSUSC purchased the United States in 2010, and has been looking for partners to develop the ship as a multipurpose venue. This new announcement might signal the first step in a new incarnation for the historic liner.

ssus_05

Photo courtesy SS United States Conservancy

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Mayflower II in Mystic for the Winter

Plimoth Plantation’s Mayflower II, a 57-year-old replica of the ship that carried the Pilgrims to this continent, arrived in Mystic, CT, on Sunday, 14 December. Once the ship is settled in, Paul Haley of Capt. G.W. Full & Associates will be carrying out a full marine survey to evaluate her condition; the ballast material will be removed completely for the first time since the vessel’s launch in order to get a good look at the bilge area. Once the full extent of Mayflower II‘s refit needs have been evaluated, the first stage of work will begin, at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport. In the spring, she will return to Plimoth Plantation, returning to Mystic for further work at the end of the 2015 season. Plimoth hopes to have all of the work completed in time for the 2020 anniversary of the original Mayflower‘s journey to North America.

Mayflower II in tow

Mayflower II in tow to Mystic, CT.
Photo: Kristen Oney – Plimoth Plantation

 

 

 

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Last Chance! CBMM Will be Closing Two Exhibits Soon

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has announced that it will be closing two exhibits: Push and Pull: Life on Chesapeake Bay Tugboats and Navigating Freedom: The War of 1812 on the Chesapeake. Both floors of the Steamboat Building, which currently houses these exhibits, will be used for the upcoming exhibition A Broad Reach: 50 Years of Collecting, commemorating the museum’s 50th anniversary. The exhibition will have a private opening on 22 May, the date of the museum’s founding in 1965, and then open to the public on 23 May.

Visitors have until 5 January to see the two retiring exhibits.

 

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Lafayette’s Hermione Voyage 2015

Credit: Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America

Credit: Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America

In April 2015, a handcrafted replica of the Hermione,­ the 18th century frigate that brought the young Marquis de Lafayette with French troops back to General Washington, will set sail to the United States from Port des Barques, France—replicating a historic voyage that in 1780 changed the course in our quest for independence and re-affirming the historic relationship between the United States and France.

After years of planning, construction and sea trials, Hermione‘s transatlantic crossing is expected to take 27 days before landfall at Yorktown, Virginia, where the original Hermione took part in the blockade which led to the surrender of Lord Cornwallis and his army. As Hermione moves up the Eastern seaboard, it will be accompanied by a range of pier side activities, including in some ports a traveling exhibition and a heritage village that will be accessible to the public. The Hermione Voyage 2015 is part of an expansive outreach program with cultural events, exhibitions, and educational programs that celebrate the trip and mark its progress. Please see the anticipated itinerary below.

Hermione Voyage 2015 Itinerary:
April 2015: Depart from Rochefort, France
April 2015: Las Palmas, Gran Cranaria
5–7 June: Yorktown, VA
9 June: Mt. Vernon, VA
15–17 June: Annapolis, MD
19–21 June: Baltimore, MD
25–28 June: Philadelphia, PA
2–4 July: New York, NY
6–7 July: Greenport, NY
8–9 July: Newport, NJ
10–11 June: Alexandria, VA/Washington, DC
11–12 July: Boston, MA
14–15 July: Castine, ME
18 July: Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
August 2015: Brest, France
August 2015: Return to Rochefort, France

Enthusiasts can track the Hermione’s itinerary and progress online at www.hermione2015.com.  You can also view a short video by Imagine Creations of her fascinating story.

As Hermione prepares for her transAtlantic journey, Smithsonian magazine is featuring an article about Lafayette and his legacy in America.

Hermione Lafayette logoThe Friends of Lafayette-Hermione in America, a non-profit group, supports this exciting adventure—partnering alongside local heritage and nautical groups, students and teachers K-through-12, and many cultural organizations, museums and universities—with a full program of exciting educational, musical, culinary and special events scheduled at each port. To learn more, please visit www.hermione2015.com.

 

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