(l-r) Channing Zucker, Howard Slotnick, Carol Vinall, Jean Wort, Cesare Sorio, Burchenal Green, William Dudley, Phil Webster Margherita Sorio, Irmy Webster, Bob Kamm, Ronald Oswald, Nancy Schnaars.
The 10th Maritime Heritage Conference 17–21 September in Norfolk, Virginia, was a tremendous success. There is no substitute for the exchange of ideas among colleagues, the opportunity to hear about projects, successes and challenges of others in the many areas and disciplines that comprise our maritime heritage. Hundreds of boat builders, scholars, archaeologists, professors, writers, artists and personnel from lighthouses, museums, historic ships, sail training ships, navy ships, historic reproduction projects and other maritime organizations came together. Dr. David Winkler, Naval Historical Foundation, organized hundreds of speakers and sessions into four days of an excellent, thought-provoking and informative program. Speakers’ Papers will be posted to the NMHS website as they become available. For a complete listing of papers presented, please see the official Conference Program.
Dr. Raymond Ashley was presented with the Maritime Heritage Conference Award of Distinction. As President/CEO of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, Dr. Ashley has grown a museum about historic ships, all aboard ships. The entire museum is afloat. He is building a reproduction of Juan Cabrillo’s San Salvador, the ship that stopped in San Diego on 28 September 1542 and stayed for 6 days. In his keynote presentation Dr. Ashley challenged us to look at the world we live in now as not inevitable and to understand how iconic ships help shape a significant message about our history that can influence the understanding and experience of our youth.
Steve White accepted the Maritime Heritage Conference Award of Distinction for Mystic Seaport for the restoration and 38th voyage of the last wooden whaler, Charles W. Morgan. This is one of the great successes for our maritime heritage, and Mr. White’s enthusiasm for the project was contagious. He was also awarded the first Maritime Heritage Conference Leadership Award for spearheading this project.
Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr, USCG, (Ret.), immediate past commandant of the Coast Guard, was presented the Maritime Heritage Conference Award of Distinction for his dedication to teaching the history of the Coast Guard and his leadership in building a National Coast Guard Museum. Admiral Papp spoke of why it is crucial to remember and record the stories of those serving in the Coast Guard and recounted great stories of everyday people serving with extraordinary courage.
Noted author and founder of the National Underwater & Marine Agency, Clive Cussler, regaled the maritime community with tales of his underwater expeditions with NUMA and the kinds of adventures that he and his crew experienced in searching for some of our great shipwrecks. No wonder his fictional protagonist, Dirk Pitt, leads such an exciting life. He was bombarded with questions and standing ovations, a testament to how evident it is that so many members of this community, knowledgeable about life at sea, are great fans.
Participants toured the Battleship Wisconsin, the Nauticus Museum, the Mariners’ Museum, and the many maritime attractions around Norfolk. Dr. Timothy Runyan, chairman of the conference organizer National Maritime Alliance, urged members to write their congressional representatives in support of the “Ships to be Recycled in the States” (STORIS) Act, which amends the National Maritime Heritage Act to secure funding for a National Maritime Heritage Act grant program. This grant program is critical to the maritime heritage community of over 1,000 small non-profit organizations in more than 40 states. A link to more information can be found on the on the NMHS website by clicking here.