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Category Archives: Ship Preservation

Time Running Out on Battleship Texas

photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife

Supporters of the battleship Texas warn that there isn’t much time left to save the ship, a veteran of two world wars. The hull is becoming more and more difficult to patch, due to the weakness of the steel surrounding the holes that develop; the Battleship Texas Foundation reports that 300,000 gallons of water a day are pumped out of the ship. The best course of action, the group says, is to dry berth the ship, creating a system around the vessel allowing restorers to control the amount of water surrounding the hull. The cost of such a project is estimated at $40 million.

The State of Texas owns the battleship, currently berthed in the Houston Ship Channel. The Battleship Texas Foundation is urging people to reach out to their representatives to ask for additional funding to save the ship.

Launched in 1912 and commissioned in 1914, Texas took part in President Woodrow Wilson’s intervention in Veracruz, Mexico. After the outbreak of World War I, she trained Naval Armed Guard gun crews. After an overhaul in 1917, she was sent to protect troop convoys in the North Sea. In the Second World War, she participated in the battle of Iwo Jima and the Normandy invasion. Today, she is the country’s only remaining World War I-era dreadnought battleship.

 

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Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Receives $80K Grant

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland, has received an $80,000 grant from the Maryland Historical Trust’s Maryland Heritage Areas Authority program. The grant will help fund a new Small Craft Heritage Center project, projected to begin in 2017.

CBMM_MDHeritageGrant_SmallCraftCtr.-300x300The Small Craft Heritage Center will preserve and house the majority of CBMM’s smaller historic vessels currently stored in locations not accessible to CBMM members and guests. The museum preserves the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of the region’s watercraft, approximately 90 boats ranging in size from small gunning boats to the 65-foot 1920 buyboat Winnie Estelle.

“With the largest collection of Chesapeake Bay water craft, CBMM is responsible for the maintenance and physical status of these crafts,” said CBMM Chief Curator Pete Lesher. “This Center will bring more of CBMM’s collections to the public while expanding our educational programming opportunities and additional exhibition space.”

CBMM_SmallCraft-300x200“We are beyond thrilled to have this opportunity to share the majority of our Chesapeake Bay vessels with our guests and visitors, as only 45% of our watercraft collection is currently accessible to the public,” commented CBMM President Kristen Greenaway. “The Small Craft Heritage Center will allow us to tell a more authentic and complete story of Chesapeake heritage.”

 

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Time Running Out for Historic Falls of Clyde

Falls_of_Clyde_prow

photo: Alexandre via Wikimedia Commons

The historic ship Falls of Clyde, long a fixture of the Honolulu waterfront, is awaiting a miracle. The ship, the world’s only surviving four-masted, full-rigged ship and the only surviving sailing oil tanker afloat, has been impounded by the Hawaii Department of Transportation Harbors Division. The ship has been berthed in Honolulu Harbor for the past seven years, but 2015 brought new urgency. The state announced plans to terminate the permit that allowed the Falls to be docked for free in its present location. Friends of the Falls of Clyde, the group that formed in 2008 to take ownership of the ship when the Bishop Museum announced that it would be unable to meet the daunting price tag of further maintenance and restoration work, stepped up its fundraising efforts, including initiating an Indiegogo campaign, which was unable to raise sufficient funds to get the ship into drydock that season.

This summer, the state gave the group the month of July to present a plan for getting the ship into drydock for restoration work; however, the plan was subsequently rejected, and the state revoked the dock permit, leading to the impound action, when access to the ship was closed off. A hearing followed on 25 August, when Friends of the Falls of Clyde appealed the state’s position and asked, again, to be allowed to work on the ship and resume fundraising efforts. The state’s decision is expected later this month.

We encourage all who are interested and want to lend their support to go to the website of the Friend of the Falls of Clyde, as well as its Facebook page, and the petition to save the ship. Learn more about her history here.

 

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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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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.

DSC06173

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 nmhs@seahistory.org

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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Looking for an Organization to Take On Historic Ferry

TBinghamton 1he custodian of the ferryboat Binghamton is searching for someone to take possession of the vessel. One of six steam-powered screw-propeller, double-ended ferryboats built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock for the Hoboken Ferryboat Company in 1905, Binghamton served from 1905–1967 between Hoboken and Manhattan before being sold and converted into a restaurant in Edgewater, NJ, in 1975. The 500-ton steam boilers were removed and 640 tons of concrete were poured into the hull as ballast. She was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Damage from Hurricane Sandy has left Binghamton partially submerged, and her present condition is described as “poor.”

Only qualified interested parties that which can demonstrate the ability toBinghamton 2 undertake the removal and preservation will be considered.

The complete Public Notice can be found here; it will expire after 90 days, on June 29th, 2016. Interested parties must by that date enter into a written agreement for the removal of the vessel from the site for the purposes of preservation.

Interested parties should email FerryboatBinghamton@gmail.com to receive more information.

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South Street Seaport Museum Announces New Exhibition

In celebration of the unparalleled restoration currently underway on its flagship, Wavertree, South Street Seaport Museum has announced its first post-Hurricane Sandy exhibition, Street of Ships: The Port and Its People. TSSSM_Collections_1991.078.0044he exhibition will debut on 17 March 2016, and will be open Wednesday–Sunday 11am–5pm in the museum’s main lobby at 12 Fulton Street.

Street of Ships: The Port and Its People showcases works of art and artifacts from the museum’s permanent collections related to the 19th-century history of the Port of New York, examining the decisive role played by the “Street of Ships” in securing New York’s place as America’s largest city and its rise to become the world’s busiest port by the start of the 20th century. The exhibition examines the life and current restoration of the museum’s 1885 full-rigged sailing cargo ship, Wavertree, an archetype of the impressive sailing ships that once called at South Street,  laying the groundwork for Wavertree’s return in July 2016 after the completion of a 15-month, $13 million city-funded restoration, the largest of its type in more than a generation. SSSM_Archives_Wavertree_History_Dismasted

Captain Jonathan Boulware, Executive Director of the Museum, exuded enthusiasm for the exhibition and for the return of Wavertree. “In the three years since Hurricane Sandy, much has been done to move this important New York institution forward. But nowhere is that work more evident than in the $13 million restoration of our flagship Wavertree. It’s a project unlike any undertaken in a generation. When she returns this summer, Wavertree will truly be a ship worthy of New York. This exhibition draws from the history of the Seaport, the birth of New York, and the people who have made both the district and the museum thrive. We’re absolutely thrilled to finally be bringing artifacts from the collection forward to the public for the first time since Sandy.”

In the early 19th Century, New York was just one among many cities competing for American commerce and trade, but by 1860 the Seaport at South Street was a center of world trade, linking New York to Europe, the Far East, the Caribbean, South America, and beyond. SSSM_Archives_ClipperCardManhattan’s population exploded from a mere 60,000 to nearly 1 million. South Street became known as the “Street of Ships,” its waterfront lined with sailing ships laden with goods from all over the world, creating a forest of masts from the Battery to the Brooklyn Bridge. The sheer volume of these vessels conducting world trade in New York directly fueled the economic and cultural development of the city. Bursting with the energy of global commerce, entrepreneurs at the Seaport developed better ways to trade.
Several 19th Century individuals and companies working at the Seaport exemplify the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that New York continues to be known for today.

Wavertree, built in Southampton, England, circled the globe four times in her career carrying a wide variety of cargoes. She called on New York in 1895, as one of hundreds like her berthed in the city. In 1910, after thirty-five years of sailing, she was caught in a Cape Horn gale that tore down her masts and ended her career as a cargo vessel. She was salvaged and used as a storage barge in South America before being acquired by South Street Seaport Museum in 1968. The story of her journey from Argentina to New York is told in Peter and Norma Stanford’s A Dream of Tall Ships: How New Yorkers came together to save the city’s sailing-ship waterfront

This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Theodore W. Scull and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs with additional support provided by Susan Kayser & Duane Morris LLP in memory of Salvatore Polisi
Admission is free for SSSM Members. Tickets are $12 for adults; $8 for seniors (65+), Merchant Mariners, Active Duty Military, and students (valid ID); $6 for kids (ages 6-17) and free for children ages 5 and under.
The exhibition is on view through 2016.

Photos courtesy South Street Seaport Museum.

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Charles Point Council February Seminar

Please Join Us for

Finding Einstein’s Sailboat—Maritime College Students Develop Creative Approaches to Locating Lost Maritime Artifacts
with David Allen, of SUNY Maritime College

Saturday, 27 February 2016
 Hendrick Hudson Library – 25 Kings Ferry Road, Montrose, NY 10548


Albert Einstein
Many of the artifacts from some of America’s momentous maritime events are lost in plain sight and rusting, rotting or corroding away. Students from the State University of New York have been tracking down lost or mislaid historic maritime-related artifacts. And they have made some astonishing discoveries.

The students are using old photo albums, decades-old trucking receipts, and solid detective work to locate, and verify the provenance of, historically significant lifeboats (two from the Andréa Doria), forgotten naval cannons from momentous battles, parts from historic aircraft, a handwritten letter (with an original poem) from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and countless other maritime artifacts that might otherwise have been lost forever to scholars.

One team may have located three of the actual lifeboats from the RMS Lusitania. Two of the boats from the Andrea Doria and, quite possibly, one lifeboat boat from the 1934 tragedy of the Morro Castle fire have been located in back yards in suburban New Jersey. And, in another New Jersey neighborhood, a possible Titanic lifeboat (Lifeboat #1) may be rotting away under a crabapple tree. Students are also on the trail of Albert Einstein’s favorite sailboat, the Tinef. The famous physicist sailed this little around Eastern Long Island in the summers just before WWII. Two of our students have uncovered some good evidence that the little boat may be hidden under an old tarp in the back of a lakeside garage in upstate New York.

David Allen will discuss and illustrate some of the innovative and sometimes unorthodox methods used by humanities students at SUNY Maritime College to bring these important artifacts back into the public realm and make them available to researchers.

P1010002_4David Allen teaches history and research methods within the humanities department at SUNY Maritime College in New York City; his concentration is American history and American maritime history. He has taught in high schools, junior high, and college, as well as for a wagon train, aboard tall ships, in museums and for the National Maritime Historical Society.

He also serves as the assistant collections manager for the Museum of Merchant Shipping, situated within the historic Fort Schuyler, on the campus of the Maritime College in the Bronx, and serves on its board.

He has collaborated with groups such as NASA, the Naval Underwater Warfare Center, myriad museums and other non-profit educational institutions, as well as the History Channel, to bring maritime educational programs to life.

Continental breakfast is at 10:30 AM. Presentation is at 11:00 AM.

The public is invited. Please contact the National Maritime Historical Society at 914 737-7878, ext. 0, or email nmhs@seahistory.org 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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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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Peking will Return to Hamburg

The South Street Seaport Museum has announced that the 1911 barque Peking will return to Hamburg, Germany, to serve as the centerpiece of that city’s new waterfront museum.

Photo: Bob-AthinsonLaunched at Hamburg’s Blohm & Voss shipyard, Peking was one of the famed Flying P line sailing for the Reederei F. Laeisz in the nitrate and wheat trade around Cape Horn. One of only four surviving ships of the Flying P fleet—the others are Kruzhenstern (ex-Padua), Pommern, and PassatPeking was made famous by sailing legend Irving Johnson. In 1929 Johnson and his friend Charles Brodhead signed on as paying passengers aboard the barque, with the intention of soaking up the experience of sailing a tall ship, working with the crew as much as they could get away with it. The experience was captured both in Johnson’s book The Peking Battles Cape Horn,  which can be found in the NMHS bookstore) and the film Around Cape Horn, available through Mystic Seaport.

Peking came to the South Street Seaport Museum in 1975, joining the Liverpool-built Wavertree of 1885, Ambrose, Pioneer and Lettie G. Howard. In recent years, however, South Street determined that financial realities would not support two such large ships, given the cost of maintaining them in good condition.  Capt. Jonathan Boulware, executive director of the Seaport Museum, summed it up:

“South Street Seaport Museum has long worked to maintain a fleet of well-maintained, relevant historic ships at her East River piers. The idea of recreating the “Street of Ships” is an important one, but what is clear is that two huge sailing ships are a crushing burden of maintenance. Our 1885 ship Wavertree, currently the subject of a $13 million city-funded restoration project, is the right ship for the Seaport Museum and for New York. Wavertree called at New York. She is the type of ship that built New York. Peking has a similar relationship to Hamburg. With the return of Wavertree in the middle of 2016, there will again be a huge square-rigged sailing ship at South Street  in outstanding condition. Peking will return to Hamburg, the city of her birth, and there be cared for in much the same way. This is good for the Seaport Museum and it’s good for Peking.”

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