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Save the Date! NYC Pickle Night is 11 November

The event is held each year to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Admiral Lord Nelson. It is named for HMS Pickle, which participated in the battle and was the messenger ship that carried the news of the victory and of Nelson’s death back to England. This year’s honorary chair woman of the dinner is Antonia Romeo, British Consul General in New York. Commodore Jerry Kyd, Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and Commander Carrier Strike Group, will be the main speaker.
Friday, 11 November 2016
New York Yacht Club
37 W 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
Space is limited. For reservations contact Sally McElwreath Callo at or by phone at 917 536-1077.
Ticket price is $295 per person. Dress is black tie or military equivalent. The event is sponsored by the American Friends of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, with additional support from The Nelson Society, The 1805 Club, and the National Maritime Historical Society.
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History Cruise Aboard SS John W. Brown

Living History Cruise Aboard SS John W. Brown
Sunday, 18 September 2016

Sail back into World War II aboard a national treasure. SS John W.  Brown carries you back into wartime.

OutwardBoundExperience life aboard the last remaining troop ship from WWII.  The historic original triple-expansion steam engine powers us in convoy through the day.  Meeting soldiers, marines, sailors and civilian re-enactors help pull you back into wartime.  The entertainment gives the feel of a USO Show aboard ship. Through the day, air cover will be provided to see us safely on our journey.

JWB Swanson photoThis exciting 6-hour day cruise includes lunch (the mess provides sea rations—a deli lunch), beverages, snacks, music of the 40’s, period entertainment, and flybys (conditions permitting) of wartime aircraft. Tour museum spaces, defensive guns, crew’s quarters, cargo spaces, and troop berthing and much more. View the magnificent 140-ton triple-expansion steam engine as it powers the ship through the water.

JWB2007 Buzzard BayChairs, sunscreen, hat and a camera are great things to bring along onto the ship. Please keep in mind that this is a working cargo ship, so sensible shoes are a must.  Also, dress accordingly – layers may be best as we will be out on the water and it may be breezy, but it also may be warm and there is no air conditioning.

The ship will sail from Pier 36 at 10:00 am and return at 4:00 pm.
Passenger boarding: 8:00 am to 9:00 am.

Pier 36
299 South Street
New York, NY 10002

SS John W. Brown is the last remaining troop transport from WWII and the last to have landed troops ashore as part of an amphibious landing. It is also the oldest remaining Liberty Ship in the world. It was built in Baltimore, its present-day home port. It is a museum and maritime education center open to all ages.

Please click this link for the NMHS discounted rate: TICKET INFORMATION

Organizer: Project Liberty Ship, Inc.
Project Liberty Ship is dedicated to the preservation of the Liberty Ship SS John W. Brown as a living memorial to the men and women who built the great Liberty Fleet and to the merchant seamen and US Navy Armed Guard who sailed the ships across the oceans of the world.



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Griffiths Headstone Unveiled



On 23 July the headstone for the grave of legendary naval architect John W. Griffiths (October 6, 1809–March 30, 1882), designer of steamships, war vessels, and the record-setting clippers Sea Witch and Rainbow, at Linden Hill United Methodist Cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens. The monument was designed by NMHS Advisory Committee Chair Melbourne Smith. Capt. Matt Carmel offered these remarks:

Welcome everyone. I am Captain Matt Carmel and was volunteered to give today’s weekly shipboard sermon from the quarterdeck, often known as “a few words from the holy book and get back to work.” I hope Rabbi Singer is watching from above because based on my expulsion from Hebrew school 45 years ago, he must be thinking nes gadol haya sham: “a great miracle happened there.”

No one likes a long speech, so I will keep it brief. But before I begin, I would like to say a few words.


No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

These famous lines are by John Donne, a metaphysical poet and cleric in the Church of England. The passage is taken from his 1624 Meditation 17, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions. Its meaning can be distilled to a common truth. Human beings necessarily depend on each other.

The idea for honoring John Willis Griffiths was born out of a “friendly” political difference between myself and Melbourne Smith, alternately of esteemed and dubious repute, depending on whether or not the “sun is below the yard”. And not “yard arm” as he often corrects the uninitiated.

So one day I hazarded a discussion on current political matters and affairs of state. One thing lead to another, it came to blows and we were knocked on our beam ends. But time heals all wounds.

As a gesture of reconciliation, I conspired with my sister, a fellow traveler, to take a gravestone rubbing of his adopted patron ship designer and mentor. My first task was to find where Griffiths was buried which was a task in and of itself. Undaunted, I ultimately came to this hallowed ground. And what to my surprise should I find? Melbourne’s patron had no headstone at all. Why this was so remains shrouded in mystery.

Not one to pass up an opportunity to make a nuisance of myself, I convinced several friends and new found acquaintances to join me in my quest to raise sufficient funds for erecting a proper headstone on Griffiths final resting place.

And succeed we did. by finding our real life patron Bruce Johnson, director of business development of the Brooklin Boat Yard, whose non-profit foundation footed the bulk of the cost. The fruits of his generosity, and others, will be unveiled here today.

In addition to Bruce, our indebtedness extends to fellow shipmates and hardy tars, in alphabetical order:

Adam Brodsky, Deputy Editorial Page Editor of the NY Post
Dr. Larrie Ferreiro, Adjunct Professor of System Engineering at Catholic University
Steve Gorelick, Executive Director of the NJ Motion Picture & Television Commission
Burchenal Green, President of the National Maritime Historical Society
Charles Lauber, Superintendent of the Linden Hill United Methodist Cemetery
Michael Lewis, President of the Lewis Monument Co.
Ron Oswald, Chairman of the National Maritime Historical Society
Charles Ricciardi, Operations & Creative Director of the NJ Motion Picture & Television Commission
Lewis Brett Smiler, research consultant to The Thomas Edison Papers
And lastly, Melbourne Smith, President of the International Historical Watercraft Society

Theologian John of Salisbury, wrote a Latin treatise on logic in 1159 called Metalogicon, in which he said:

“We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.”

So now we come to the brief part. To my fellow clods of earth who one day will be washed away by the sea, let’s cheer our codependency and America’s great maritime achievements. Huzzah!


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Maine Maritime Museum is Seeking New Chief Curator

Photo: Ted Kerwin

Photo: Ted Kerwin

Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine, is seeking a new chief curator, to succeed the current chief curator, who is retiring in April of next year. From the MMM website:

The Chief Curator will play a key role in the leadership team and help the museum continue to grow and excel. The Chief Curator leads a curatorial staff of two plus interns and volunteers, and provides the creative leadership and management of the museum’s historic object, library, and archival collections; changing and permanent exhibits; and publications program.

Interested parties can find the full job posting at the Maine Maritime Museum website.

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Special July Event: Launching the Andrea Doria Lifeboat

The Andrea Doria Lifeboat Launching—60 Years Later
Saturday, 30 July 2016
10:00 am–4:00 pm

Discovering, recovering, restoring and re-launching Andrea Doria’s Lifeboat #1, at the Maritime Academic Center, State University of New York Maritime College.


Photo courtesy Mark Koch

Mark Koch, a dive manager from the New Orleans area, has acquired the Andrea Doria’s Lifeboat #1 and had it restored to new quality at Scarano Boatbuilding in Albany, NY. The 28-foot boat looks great—shiny, bright white, and totally renewed, except for a few of its historic dents and mystifying bullet holes. Yes, bullet holes. All of its mechanical components have been reconditioned and the human-powered cranks that drive the big brass propeller operate perfectly.

On July 30—60 years from the sinking—this restored lifeboat will be launched from the waterfront at the SUNY Maritime College. All willing participants are invited to paddle the lifeboat out into Long Island Sound for a short excursion (the boat holds about 50 people).

Historians, divers, ship and boat preservationists LifeboatSMand others will discuss the Andrea Doria, her collision at sea with the Stockholm, and the significance of that collision to the merchant marine world. Discussions will focus on the repercussions of that accident, the evolution of lifeboat technology, and the effects of the sinking on the training of merchant mariners and on the evolution of SCUBA technology.

In addition, docents will lead tours of the Maritime Industry Museum at Fort Schuyler, which houses exhibits on the history of the United States maritime industry, including commercial shipping, the merchant marine, the port of New York, and history of Fort Schuyler.

  • 10:00 am: Registration, Coffee, Tea and Muffins (in Maritime Academic Center)
  • 10:30–11:30 am: Presentations
  • 11:30 am: Launch of the boat
  • 12:15 pm: Lunch ($15 per person at the cafeteria)
  • 1:30 pm: Presentations in the Luce Library (in Fort Schuyler)
  • 2:30–4:00 pm: Tour of the Maritime Industry Museum (in Fort Schuyler)
Photo courtesy Mark Koch

Photo courtesy Mark Koch

This event is free and open to the public.
Suggested Donation – $5 to $10.
Reservations required, 914 737-7878 x 0 or email

The event will take place at:
Maritime Academic Center, State University of New York Maritime College
6 Pennyfield Avenue
Bronx, NY  10465

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Unveiling of Griffiths Headstone Planned for 23 July

NMHS is proud to announce the unveiling of a headstone at the grave of legendary naval architect John W. Griffiths on Saturday, 23 July 2016. The ceremony will take place in Queens at the Linden Hill United Methodist Cemetery at 10:30 am.


John W. Griffiths (6 October 1809 – 30 March 1882) was a maverick of American shipbuilding, a naval architect, and the designer of steamships, war vessels and the record-setting Rainbow and Sea Witch clipper ships. In 1849, Sea Witch sailed from Hong Kong to New York in 74 days 14 hours, a record which has not yet been broken by a single-hull sailing vessel. Griffiths authored several books, while his innovations and patents left a lasting impression on ship design and construction.

Despite his reputation as a “naval architect genius,” Griffiths died in poverty, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Queens, NY.

SeaWitch copy

In 2012, the lack of a headstone was discovered when Matthew Carmel wanted to give a rubbing of Griffiths’ headstone to his friend, Melbourne Smith, Chairman of the National Maritime Historical Society Advisory Committee, since he knew that Smith gives credit for much of his historic ship design skills from studying the works of Griffiths.  To their surprise, there was no headstone and further research
revealed there never was one.  The two men then began the efforts to give the marine and naval architect a proper headstone.  The new monument was designed by Melbourne Smith to honor this great American ship designer.

GRIFFITHS HEADSTONE Master-1Steadily gathering momentum since the 25 October 2013 New York Post article “Grave Injustice for NY Ship Hero,” the John Willis Griffiths Gravesite Project seeks to honor this “maverick of American ship-building at a time when it was one of (New York) City’s most important industries.” The New York Post article sums it up: “New York, and the nation, owe Griffiths an appropriate headstone.”

The National Maritime Historical Society is proud to celebrate the life of John Willis Griffiths and the public is invited to attend the ceremony to unveil his well-earned and long-awaited headstone.

Saturday, 23  July 2016 at 10:30 am

Linden Hill United Methodist Cemetery
323 Woodward Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385

Cars will be able to park near the gravesite.

A luncheon will be held after the ceremony at a restaurant which is approximately a 30 minute drive from the cemetery.

LUNCHEON to follow  – at 1:00 pm
Riverview Restaurant & Lounge
Center Blvd and 49th Street (2-01 50th Avenue)
Long Island City, NY 11101

Please RSVP by July 15 to or 914 737-7878 x 0. The cost for the luncheon is $45 per person; pre-paid with a cash bar. [Valet parking is available or a garage is located at the City Lights Apartment Building which is 100 feet away from the restaurant at 4-74 48th Avenue.]

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In the Pages of Sea History 154

Sea History 154 is in the mail and on the newsstands. Just look at what’s in this issue:

The 2016 National Maritime Awards Dinner
NMHS and the Naval Historical Foundation present the 2016 National Maritime Awards Dinner. Join us for our annual gala event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC!

ICMM in Hong Kong, the 2015 International Congress of Maritime Museums,
by Burchenal Green and Deirdre O’Regan
For the first time in its history, the ICMM held its biennial conference in Asia this past November, where attendees from institutions around the world, large and small, had a unique opportunity to network, debate, support, and encourage best practices for the maritime museum community.

Photo: Marion Kaplan

Photo: Marion Kaplan

So Old a Ship: Twilight of the Arab Dhow, by Marion Kaplan
In 1974, photojournalist Marion Kaplan embarked on an expedition to document the last generation of Arab dhows, sailing with the monsoon along ancient trading routes. Here, she shares glimpses of that journey, and of the way of life of the dhow captains and crews.
Find this article in Featured Articles from Sea History

Racing the Goldplaters—the Tradition Continues, by John C. North II
Summer visitors to Maryland’s Eastern Shore are treated to a spectacle of athleticism, tradition, history, and good fun at the annual Chesapeake Bay log canoe races. There is a history to the evolution of these remarkable vessels that have sailed and raced for more than 100 years.

Courtesy Cal Maritime Academy

Courtesy Cal Maritime Academy

We Know Ocean! Improving Ocean Literacy at Cal Maritime,
by Colin Dewey, Alexander Parker, Steven Runyon
Recognizing the critical link between the health of the oceans and the survival of our planet, California Maritime Academy is taking the lead in improving ocean literacy among our future professional master mariners and leaders shaping environmental and economic policy.

Historic Ships on a Lee Shore: Kit Jones is Waiting for You, by William C. Fleetwood Jr.

Kit Jones tumblr 1973

University of Mississippi

Leisure yacht of the rich and famous, wartime fireboat, and scientific research vessel—the 1939 Sparkman & Stephens designed Kit Jones has had a remarkable career. Currently, she sits abandoned in a Biloxi boatyard, awaiting her next reincarnation.

The Brothers Eldridge: Extraordinary Mariners in an Extraordinary Age,
by Vincent Miles
Nineteenth-century ship captains faced professional obsolescence with the transition from sail to steam, a new technology that required the skills of an engineer over the expertise of the sailing master. Three brothers from Cape Cod, however, prevailed, becoming elite ship masters of both.


This issue’s cover is  The Wait/Flying Cloud, by Marc Castelli.

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

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

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Charles Point Council April Seminar: The New York Naval Militia

History and Missions of the New York Naval Militia
with Major General Robert L. Wolf, NYNM (Ret.)

Saturday, 30 April 2016
Hendrick Hudson Library – 25 Kings Ferry Road, Montrose, NY 10548
Continental Breakfast is at 10:30 AM. Presentation is at 11:00 AM.

The New York Naval Militia (NYNM) was first created in 1889 and was formally mustered into state service as the First Battalion, Naval Reserve Artillery, on 23 June 1891. After the sinking of USS Maine, the NYNM sent five divisions of its 1st Battalion to fight in the Spanish-American War, and also conducted patrols of New York Harbor. The New York Naval Militia was activated during both World War I and World War II, as well as the Korean War. In this presentation, Major General Wolf, the immediate past commander of the New York Naval Militia, will talk about the history and missions of the unit.

Upon his retirement from the Regular United States Marine Corps on 1 December 1994, he was commissioned in the New York State Naval Militia, in February 2015.  The NYNM, a volunteer force of the organized militia of the United States, is authorized under Title 10, United States Code. Naval_Militia_Bugler_NGM-WebThe State Naval Militia must meet the standards set by the US secretary of the navy, by which 95% of the State Naval Militia must be Active Drilling Reservists and 5% may volunteer from the active duty retired ranks.  As a Lieutenant Colonel of Marines, he was the operations officer for 26 MEU (SOC) and mission coordinator during the initial invasion of Sarajevo.  A parachute and SCUBA-qualified marine, he was originally assigned as Special Missions, Special Operations Training Group (SOTG) II MEF before he was selected and assigned as an immediate relieved his predecessor. It was Bob Wolf who, in 1992, designed the rescue SOP which was later implemented to rescue US Air Force Captain Scott O’Grady (shot down behind Serbian lines) in June 1995, during the Bosnia conflict.

Major General Wolf is currently an associate director, Veterans and Military Affairs at State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College at Fort Schuyler.

The public is invited. Please contact the National Maritime Historical Society at 914 737-7878, ext. 0, or email if you plan to attend. A $5 to $10 donation is appreciated. If you would also like to join NMHS and the speaker for lunch following the presentation, it is $25 prepaid, with cash bar. Reservations required.

For more information on the complete lineup of seminars as it is finalized, please check back with the Charles Point Council page for ongoing updates.

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Nauticus to Purchase Schooner Virginia

The Norfolk City Council voted on Tuesday to approve a plan for the Nauticus Foundation to buy the schooner Virginia. Under the proposed plan, Virginia would be docked next to the battleship Wisconsin and used for educational programming.

CREDIT: Mark Krasnow Photography

CREDIT: Mark Krasnow Photography

Nauticus, an interactive science and technology center that explores the naval, economic, and nautical power of the sea, is run by the city of Norfolk and supported by the nonprofit Nauticus Foundation. It is home to the Battleship Wisconsin and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. Using a $1 million state grant to cover the purchase of the schooner and seed a fund for future maintenance and repairs, Nautilus plans to use Virginia as part of Sail Nauticus, a program that gives underprivileged children around Hampton Roads access to the water.

The program teaches kids about character and teamwork, and builds science and math skills.

A reproduction of the last all sail vessel built for the Virginia Pilot Association, Virginia was built in Norfolk between 2002 and 2004, and sailed for the Virginia Maritime Heritage Foundation as an educational platform. She has sailed up and down the Atlantic coast, as well as to international destinations such as Trinidad, Bermuda, and Prince Edward Island. A reduction in state funding for the program made it increasingly difficult for the VMHF to meet operating costs, and the organization put the schooner up for sale last year.

Photo: Virginia Maritime Heritage Foundation

Virginia and Pride of Baltimore II. Photo: Virginia Maritime Heritage Foundation

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