Sea History 169 - Winter 2019-2020

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WINTER 2019–20



The Jones Act at 100 Whaling Logbooks for Today’s Researchers Catalpa Prison Break

Your Purchase of this John Stobart Print Will Directly Support the National Maritime Historical Society! Generously donated by renowned artist John Stobart and the J. Russell Jinishian Gallery to benefit the Society, “New York, Lower South Street, c. 1885,” signed prints.

Through this special offer from the National Maritime Historical Society, you can acquire this stunning print that portrays a bygone time in New York City’s most historic waterfront area— a tranquil era of cobblestone streets, lantern light, and horse-drawn wagons. Each lithograph is personally approved and hand signed by the artist, John Stobart. Image size 18” x 26” on 25” x 33” paper, unframed. Special price for NMHS members: $350 each + $30 s/h.

To order, call 1-800-221-NMHS (6647), ext. 0, e-mail, or visit our website at


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2020 Calendar NEW! Tall Ships There are few things on the high seas more dramatic than the great clouds of sail raised by traditional full-rigged ships. This edition of Tall Ships features vessels from ports around the world. Calendar is wall hanging, full color Size 13.75” x 20.6” open.  

$15.95 or $14.36 for NMHS members. Add $5.50 media mail s/h within the US.

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No. 169


WINTER 2019–20


18 The Catalpa Incident: An American Whaler Getaway Vessel and Australia’s Most Daring Prison Break, by Erika Cosme Escaping from Australia’s Fremantle Prison seemed an implausible idea, but a team of American and Irish rebels set a meticulous plan in motion and bided their time to pull off the impossible.

matson, inc.

12 A Century of the Jones Act, by Salvatore R. Mercogliano, PhD Maritime historian and former merchant mariner Salvatore Mercogliano tells the story of the straits the US was in when foreign-flagged vessels were no longer carrying cargo after the start of the First World War, and makes the case for preserving the Jones Act.

12 falmouth historical society

24 “When We See Whales”—Transcribing Captain Lawrence’s Logbook, by Mia Sigler Mia Sigler offers us a student’s perspective on studying the logbooks of whaling captain Lewis H. Lawrence while retracing part of his journey off the coast of New Zealand. 30 Fighting Head Winds, Not Windshields, by Joel Stone Did the automobile put the steamship out of business? Detroit historian and curator Joel Stone argues that this long accepted assumption is a false narrative.


36 Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle, by Whitney Van Dyke For the first time in 60 years, the paintings from Jacob Lawrence’s celebrated series, Struggle: From the History of the American People (1954–56), are reunited in a national exhibition, curated by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. Lawrence’s 30 dramatic panels interpret pivotal moments in the American Revolution and the early decades of the Republic.

42 A False Economy: The Coast Guard’s Largest Single-handed Seizure During Prohibition, by CAPT Daniel A. Laliberte, USCG (Ret.) Ensign Charles Duke, USCG, got word that rum runners would be attempting to smuggle alcohol into the Port of New York on July Fourth weekend, 1927. Would he be able to spot them—or apprehend them—in the middle of a dark and stormy night?

detroit historical society

40 A Constitution Yarn, Untangled, by William H. White Have you heard the one about Constitution’s maiden voyage and a remarkable quantity of wine and spirits? Maritime historian and author Bill White would like to set the record straight.


museum of fine arts, boston

Cover: Liberty Bay, Painting by Patrick O’Brien. (See article on the 100th anniversary of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, a.k.a. the Jones Act, pp. 12–16.)

DEPARTMENTS 4 Deck Log 5 Letters 8 NMHS: A Cause in Motion 38 Marine Art News 46 Sea History for Kids

50 Ship Notes, Seaport & Museum News 57 Calendar 58 Maritime History on the Internet 59 Reviews 64 Patrons

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36 SEA HISTORY (issn 0146-9312) is published quarterly by the National Maritime Historical Society, 5 John Walsh Blvd., POB 68, Peek­skill NY 10566 USA. Periodicals postage paid at Peeks­kill NY 10566 and add’l mailing offices. COPYRIGHT © 2019 by the National Maritime Historical Society. Tel: 914 737-7878. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sea History, PO Box 68, Peekskill NY 10566.


Deck Log


Seafaring History and Culture in Every Direction

wikipedia commons

richard bodorff

Å land maritime museum

deirdre o›regan

MHS Chairman Ronald Oswald, Secretary Jean Wort, Sea History editor Deirdre O’Regan, and I recently represented NMHS at the International Congress of Maritime Museums in Sweden, Åland, and Estonia, and were privileged to visit many of the phenomenal museums in that part of the world and take in the maritime culture, which is pervasive everywhere you look. We were, of course, awed by the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, which houses the preserved 1628 warship that sank in the harbor on its maiden voyage and interprets 17th-century maritime life and work. In walking distance is the Viking Museum, the National Maritime Museum, Swedish Medieval Museum, and the soon-tobe-opened Vrak: The Museum of Wrecks. In ICMM at the Swedish Maritime Museum Mariehamn, home to an active seafaring community and traditional shipbuilding center, is the impressive Åland Maritime Museum, which owns and interprets the famous 1903 four-masted sailing ship Pommern, one of the last surviving Flying-P Liners. I had been to Stockholm on a previous visit and had heard about Mariehamn and was eager to visit the Peking’s sister ship, but I was wholly unprepared to discover a world-class maritime museum in Tallinn, Estonia. The port at Seaplane Harbour is home to an impressive assemblage of historic ships, one of which is a decommissioned 1943 Minnesota-built USCG buoy tender that served in the Estonian Border Guard after she was decommissioned by the Coast Guard. After touring the vessels on the waterfront, our host, director Urmas Dresen, led us inside a restored 1916 seaplane hangar, where we were enthralled by the collection and presentation of maritime artifacts, the largest of which is an intact 1936 naval submarine suspended from the ceiling. The museum interprets a mosaic of Estonian maritime activity above, on, and below the sea. In addition to professionally developed exhibits that engage adults from the mildly curious to scholars, the layout inside the hangar is inviting, open, and cleverly designed. Children are free to run around under the sub, around the preserved partial remains of a 16th-century shipwreck, and across the suspended walkway that traverses the gigantic The Estonian icebreaker Valvas is the former room. This is how to get young people inter- USCGC Bittersweet (WLB-389). She retired from duty in 2014 and is now part ested in the maritime field. Seaplane Harbour is just one part of the of the Estonian Maritime Museum fleet of Estonian Maritime Museum, but you’ll have historic vessels. (below) The submarine to travel there yourself to see the rest. Our Lembit is just one of the artifacts on exhibit time during ICMM was spent learning from in the hangar at Seaplane Harbour. maritime museum directors and curators from around the world, and we are grateful to NMHS Trustee Howard Slotnick for sponsoring NMHS’s involvement in this important conference, and for the hospitality of the ICMM hosts for the opportunities they provided to introduce us to these maritime treasures; we can’t wait to return. —Burchenal Green, president 4

NATIONAL MARITIME HISTORICAL SOCIETY PUBLISHER’S CIRCLE: Peter Aron, Guy E. C. Maitland, Ronald L. Oswald OFFICERS & TRUSTEES: Chairman, Ronald L. Oswald; Vice Chairman, Richardo R. Lopes; President, Burchenal Green; Vice Presidents: Jessica MacFarlane, Deirdre O’Regan, Wendy Paggiotta, Nancy Schnaars; Treasurer, Howard Slotnick; Secretary, Jean Wort; Trustees: Charles B. Anderson; Walter R. Brown; Christopher J. Culver; William S. Dudley; David Fowler; William Jackson Green; Karen Helmerson; Denise Krepp; Richard M. Larrabee; Guy E. C. Maitland; CAPT Sally Chin McElwreath, USN (Ret.); Michael W. Morrow; CAPT James A. Noone, USN (Ret.); Richard Patrick O’Leary; ADM Robert J. Papp Jr., USCG (Ret.); Timothy J. Runyan; Richard Scarano; Philip J. Shapiro; Capt. Cesare Sorio; William H. White; Chairmen Emeriti: Walter R. Brown, Alan G. Choate, Guy E. C. Maitland, Howard Slotnick FOUNDER: Karl Kortum (1917–1996) PRESIDENT EMERITUS: Peter Stanford (1927–2016) OVERSEERS: Chairman, RADM David C. Brown, USMS (Ret.); RADM Joseph F. Callo, USN (Ret.); George W. Carmany III; Clive Cussler; Richard du Moulin; Alan D. Hutchison; Gary Jobson; Sir Robin Knox-Johnston; John Lehman; Capt. Brian McAllister; Capt. James J. McNamara; H. C. Bowen Smith; John Stobart; Philip J. Webster; Roberta Weisbrod NMHS ADVISORS: George Bass, Francis Duffy, John Ewald, Timothy Foote, Steven A. Hyman, J. Russell Jinishian, Gunnar Lundeberg, Conrad Milster, William G. Muller, Stuart Parnes, Nancy Hughes Richardson, Joyce Huber SEA HISTORY EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Chairman, Timothy Runyan; Norman Brouwer, Robert Browning, William Dudley, Lisa Egeli, Daniel Finamore, Kevin Foster, Cathy Green, John Jensen, Frederick Leiner, Joseph Meany, Salvatore Mercogliano, Carla Rahn Phillips, Walter Rybka, Quentin Snediker, William H. White NMHS STAFF: Executive Director, Burchenal Green; Director of Development, Jessica MacFarlane; Comptroller, Anjoeline Osuyah; Membership Associate, Andrea Ryan; Membership Coordinator, Nancy Schnaars; Senior Staff Writer: Shelley Reid; Executive Assistant, Heather Purvis; Membership Assistant, Irene Eisenfeld SEA HISTORY: Editor, Deirdre E. O’Regan; Advertising Director, Wendy Paggiotta Sea History is printed by The Lane Press, South Burlington, Vermont, USA.



us navy photo

The logbook was at Dahlgren until the mid-1990s when it was sent to the Smithsonian. I’ve attached a US Navy photo of the applicable page of the logbook. The note— “First actual case of bug being found”—was added at a later date. As noted in the article, that later note is not accurate—just one of the many myths surrounding Grace Hopper’s remarkable career and legacy. The use of “bug” to describe defects in mechanical or electrical devices predates this event by many years. Robert V. Gates Dahlgren, Virginia Whaling and World War I Last spring, the National Maritime Historical Society met in New Bedford, Massachusetts, homeport of the storied whaling industry. Many scholarly papers presented during the conference discussed whaling from its inception to its pinnacle, and ultimate decline. Much of the American SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20

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whaling fleet had disappeared by the onset of the 20th Century, but there was more to the story. During the First World War, approximately 58,000 whales were killed to provide the Allies with the animal’s oil that was essential for the new technologically advanced warfare. What remained of the whaling industry was dominated by the neutral Norway. Most of the whale population was to be found in the South Atlantic, waters that were largely controlled by the British Navy. Therefore, the British were able to rule and restrict the market for this vital commodity. A small residual American whaling fleet took advantage of this nascent demand, but it was a dangerous endeavor. German submarines were not a threat to whales, but could be a serious hazard for unsuspecting American whaleships. By denying the Central Powers access to whale oil, the Allies produced a shortage of fats in Germany and Austro-Hungary. Whale oil was used to make soap, but an important manufacturing by-product of the process was glycerin. Military explosives fall into two classifications: low or high explosives. Low explosives like gunpowder are mixtures of chemical ingredients that undergo rapid combustion and propel bullets and high-explosive shells. High explosives, however, are made from more unstable molecules that undergo explosive decomposition, producing precipitous pow-

erful shock waves. The essential different ingredient in high explosives is nitroglycerin, an unstable liquid that decomposes with explosive violence if heated or jarred. Nitroglycerin is made by reacting glycerol with concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids. Glycerol is present in animal and vegetable fats and particularly abundant in whale blubber; it was the key component of cordite used in the manufacture of military grade explosives. Whale oil was a thin, high-quality lubricant that prevented metal corrosion. Sperm whale oil is a pale-yellow liquid wax that makes it a particularly valuable lubricant. It remains liquid even at sub-zero temperatures, and, after treatment with sulfur, it becomes a A bottle of unrelubricant resistant to fined whale oil. extremely high pressures. It was ideal for the maintenance of rifles, marine chronometers, and intricate military instruments and machines.

wikipedia commons

Literal Computer Bug I just read the Autumn 2019 issue of Sea History and have to correct an error in an otherwise excellent issue. In Kathleen Broome Williams’s article on Grace Hopper (in “‘Amazing Grace’­—The Woman Who Brought the Navy into the Digital Age”), she erroneously attributes removing the moth from the Aiken Relay Calculator Mark II to RADM Hopper. In fact, the moth was removed from the Mark II (from Relay #70 Panel F to be exact) and taped in the logbook by a technician, William Burke. Burke and the logbook came to the Naval Proving Ground in Dahlgren, Virginia, (now the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division) along with the Mark II in March 1948. This is well documented in The Sound of Freedom by James P. Rife and Rodney P. Carlisle.

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Neith, 1996, Cover photograph

Wood, Wind and Water

A Story of the Opera House Cup Race of Nantucket Photographs by Anne T. Converse Text by Carolyn M. Ford Live vicariously through the pictures and tales of classic wooden yacht owners who lovingly restore and race these gems of the sea. “An outstanding presentation deserves ongoing recommendation for both art and nautical collections.” 10”x12” Hardbound book; 132 pages, 85 full page color photographs; Price $45.00 For more information contact: Anne T. Converse Phone: 508-728-6210

OWNER’S STATEMENT: Statement filed 9/16/19 required by the Act of Aug. 12, 1970, Sec. 3685, Title 39, US Code: Sea History is published quarterly at 5 John Walsh Blvd., Peekskill NY 10566; minimum subscription price is $17.50. Publisher and editor-inchief: None; Editor is Deirdre E. O’Regan; owner is National Maritime Historical Society, a non-profit corporation; all are located at 5 John Walsh Blvd., Peekskill NY 10566. During the 12 months preceding October 2019 the average number of (A) copies printed each issue was 25,464; (B) paid and/or requested circulation was: (1) outside county mail subscriptions 7,148; (2) in-county subscriptions 0; (3) sales through dealers, carriers, counter sales, other non-USPS paid distribution 4,981; (4) other classes mailed through USPS 285; (C) total paid and/or requested circulation was 12,414; (D) free distribution by mail, samples, complimentary and other 11,583; (E) free distribution outside the mails 638; (F) total free distribution was 12346; (G) total distribution 24,583; (H) copies not distributed 881; (I) total [of 15G and H] 25,464; (J) Percentage paid and/or requested circulation 51%. The actual numbers for the single issue preceding October 2019 are: (A) total number printed 25,750; (B) paid and/or requested circulation was: (1) outside-county mail subscriptions 6,959; (2) in-county subscriptions 0; (3) sales through dealers, carriers, counter sales, other nonUSPS paid distribution 4,918; (4) other classes mailed through USPS 295; (C) total paid and/or requested circulation was 12,162; (D) free distribution by mail, samples, complimentary and other 11,865; (E) free distribution outside the mails 350; (F) total free distribution was 12,500; (G) total distribution 24,662; (H) copies not distributed 1,088; (I) total [of 15G and H] 25,750 (J) Percentage paid and/or requested circulation 49%. I certify that the above statements are correct and complete. (signed) Burchenal Green, Executive Director, National Maritime Historical Society.


Much of the combat of WWI took place within or near miles of trenches. These troughs were reinforced with sandbags made of jute fibers. The raw jute was separated and twisted by hand into heads or bundles, then put through a machine to soften or spread the fibers. The strands were then sprayed with a whale oil emulsion, then left for several days to allow the liquid to fully penetrate the filaments. The resulting yarns were then carded, drawn, spun, and finally woven into the sandbag fabric. The soldiers who walked, stood, or sat in these waterlogged and poorly drained muddy trenches found it difficult to keep their feet dry through leather boots and cotton or woolen stockings. The soldiers’ feet remained cold and wet, often for days on end, and, as a result, a malady called “trench foot” became commonplace. Also, pathogens such as the tetanus bacterium, thrived in the trenches’ mire. Because of compromised circulation, damaged feet became infected, resulting in swelling, numbness, puss-filled inflamed lesions, blackening of the toes, and peeling skin. Whale oil provided waterproofing for both their boots and skin. Whale grease, although sometimes malodorous, protected soldiers’ faces from the bitter cold. On the home front, there were shortages of vegetable oils and butter. Whale oil was used to make solid fat derivative that led to a process that turned the by-product of soapmaking into a primitive form of margarine. In order to make the whale oil an edible fat for human consumption, it had first to be hydrogenated to remove the dark color and fishy taste and odor. The process

consisted of blowing hydrogen through the oil in the presence of a catalyst. Thus, the civilian population benefited as well as the waning whaling industry. Therefore, whaling had a brief renaissance at the beginning of the last century and played a largely forgotten and unrecognized role in World War I. Louis Arthur Norton West Simsbury, Connecticut Inspired to Keep Painting I wish to thank you for all I keep seeing in Sea History. The one article that blew my mind was the art feature on Maarten Platje (No. 167, Summer 2019) and his extraordinary paintings. I’m stunned at the pure perfection of his canvases. I look forward to catching up on more reading. We have recently been entertaining a handful of genius painters (Don Demers, Russ Kramer, Chris Blossom, and Richard Land). I am fortunate to count this group (and their wives and partners) as close friends. My current effort is a painting of South Street in New York City, one of my favorite subjects to study and paint. I’ve also been finishing up some smaller works. My style is always to do small oils and sketches before switching to a larger picture. I still retain my enthusiasm and feel it my duty to fight on to the finish and enjoy having a go at something small—and maybe make someone happy in the process. I appreciate receiving each issue of Sea History and treasure its content. It inspires me to press on and continue to do my best. John Stobart Westport, Massachusetts

Sketch by John Stobart of the East River with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

courtesy john stobart

Anne T. Converse Photography



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A CAUSE IN MOTION 2019 NMHS Annual Awards Dinner Celebrates Extraordinary Vision by Burchenal Green, NMHS President


ith so many good friends and respected colleagues in attendance at this year’s National Maritime Historical Society Annual Awards Dinner, it was sure to be a festive and fun gala, as well as a significant testimonial to some important contributions in the maritime field. Thanks to this year’s awardees’ persistence, hard work, talent, and teambuilding, more people have access to the water and the world of sailing and seamanship, and have gained a deeper understanding of our maritime heritage, and an internationally famous historic racing yacht was saved from deterioration and returned to the top of the racing circuit. Chairman Ronald L. Oswald remarked from the podium that “the National Maritime Historical Society was founded in 1963 and since then has worked diligently to bring about a greater appreciation for America’s maritime heritage. We recognize extraordinary achievement and contributions to the maritime heritage community to both give credit where credit is due, and to inspire others.” (below) American Society of Marine Artists: (standing, from left) Len Mizerek, Russ Kramer, and Nic Fox; (seated) ASMA president Lisa Egeli and Patrick O’Brien

photos by allison lucas

Before taking to the podium (back row, from left) Admiral Robert Papp, Ronald Oswald, Christopher Culver, George Carmany, Gary Jobson, and Richard du Moulin; (seated from left) Matt Brooks, Pam Rorke Levy, Jean Wort, and Burchenal Green The husband and wife team Matt Brooks and Pam Rorke Levy received the NMHS Distinguished Service Award for their restoration of the historic Olin Stephens-designed Dorade and returning her to blue water racing, and for supporting young sailors at all levels of the sport through the St. Francis Sailing Foundation. “It’s been a great honor to be the custodian of Dorade and to meet so many wonderful people involved in the boating comA great gathering of old friends (from left): munity.” —Matt Brooks Howard Slotnick, Linda Papp, Admiral Pam Rorke Levy: “Middle-aged Robert Papp, and Rick Lopes.

novices can get a classic boat, restore and repair it to race again, and go out on the ocean and win. I represent the middle-aged novice who got involved with sailing in my fifties. If I can do it, it’s not too late for you.” “We love recognizing sailors and boats, and there is none better than the trio of Pam, Matt, & Dorade, the greatest ocean racing boat in history,” said Master of Ceremonies Richard du Moulin. After watching the Richard du Moulin (left), Chris Culver (second from right), video presentation about them produced by Rick and Alessandro Lopes, and George Carmany (far right) present the Distinguished he quipped, “It is nice to see this footage of Dorade from the front. I too often see the stern of her as I try to catch up.” Service Award to Matt Brooks and Pam Rorke Levy. Dinner Chairman Christopher J. Culver: “I had the honor of sailing aboard Dorade for a week with Pam and Matt when Dorade won the Astor Cup and got to see the incredible job of restoration they accomplished. NMHS is passionate about restoration and preservation, but we can never save every ship. When individuals spend their time, energy, and capital to save a great boat, we respect that effort and recognize those who made it possible.” 8


After a lifelong interest in boats and ships, Jean Wort brought the 1917 passenger vessel Commander up the Hudson River to serve as a floating classroom and provide access to the water to thousands of people to learn and appreciate the history of the river. Jean was new to the United States and new to the Hudson River, but she made a success of the venture by including her family and community in her dream. She used the same passion and a similar vision as a trustee of NMHS, enriching the Society and its aims. Jean concluded her remarks by reminding us that maritime history is world history, something she had come to realize through her association with this Society. Reflecting on her venture with Commander and her long involvement with NMHS, David A. O’Neil Sheet Anchor Award Recipient Captain Jean Wort said: “Only in America can you aspire to do what you want even if you’ve never done anything like it before, and succeed. When I brought the Commander up the Hudson River to start a business, I learned that you don’t need to know everything before you start—but that you do need the right people with you.” Admiral Robert J. Papp, USCG (Ret.) presented Jean Wort with the award, praising her many skills and accomplishments. Admiral Papp presents the David A. O’Neil Sheet Anchor Award to He explained that he regards her as a shipmate, recognizing Captain Jean Wort (left), while Joanne O’Neil looks on. their shared backgrounds in command of ships. Admiral Papp reminded the landlubbers in the room that a sheet anchor is the very heavy anchor used in an emergency or storm; symbolically, the term is used to designate a person you can rely on in difficult situations. Jean Wort has long been a sturdy sheet anchor to the Society and a good shipmate to her fellow trustees, NMHS staff and members. Distinguished Service Award Recipient Ding Schoonmaker: “I have been so pleased to be able to give something back to the sport that has brought me so much pleasure. If young sailors have a goal—and I hope it’s an Olympic medal—we want to give them every opportunity to be well trained. I also think it is important to preserve the history of sailing, and I thank the Society for their part in this.” Ding Schoonmaker’s racing career started with his first competition at age eleven, and he went on to win gold medals in the Star World Championships, the Star North Gary Jobson presented Ding Schoonmaker with the Distinguished Service Award at Harbour American Championship, the European Court in Newport over the summer. (l–r) Jessica MacFarlane, Ronald Oswald, Treecie and Championships, the South American Ding Schoonmaker, Gary Jobson, Jean Wort, Chris Culver, Burchie Green. Championships, the Western Hemisphere Championships, and the Bacardi Cups. Ding Schoonmaker was recognized with the NMHS Distinguished Service Award for introducing youth and individuals from emerging countries to the sport of sailing and racing. He helped establish the US Sailing Center in Florida to provide public access to the Miami waterfront, along with community outreach and team training. The Schoonmaker Center is the only US Olympic Committee-sanctioned training site dedicated to sailing in the United States. Special thanks to those whose efforts made it a meaningful and enjoyable event: videographers Rick and Alessandro Lopes, master of ceremonies Richard du Moulin, presenters Gary Jobson and Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., and the US Coast Guard Academy Cadet Chorale, directed by Dr. Robert Newton. The Society is most grateful to Event Marquee Sponsors Pam Rorke Levy and Matt Brooks; Fleet Sponsor Howard Slotnick; Commodore Sponsors Peter and Erika Aron, Walter R. Brown, Caddell Dry Dock & Repair Co., George W. Carmany III, Christopher J. Culver, Ronald L. Oswald, William H. White, and the John P. Wort Family Trust; and Dinner Journal Sponsors The Artina Group and Treecie and Ding Schoonmaker! SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20


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10th Annual National Maritime Awards Dinner 23 April 2020 · National Press Club · Washington, DC The National Maritime Historical Society, in partnership with the National Coast Guard Museum Association, will hold its 10th National Maritime Awards Dinner on 23 April 2020 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Dinner chairs Denise R. Krepp and Vice Admiral Al Konetzni, USN (Ret.), and founding dinner chairman Philip J. Webster, are thrilled to announce that we will honor iconic American maritime institutions that epitomize the maritime history of the United States of America and for generations have been in the forefront of supporting the nation’s maritime commerce, defense and security. The Society will honor the United States Merchant Marine with its NMHS Distinguished Service Award on the 245th anniversary of its founding during the American Revolution, for its indispensable and often unheralded contributions to our nation’s security and prosperity since 1775. David Yoho, who served in the Merchant Marine in the Pacific in World War II, will accept the award. The United States Naval Academy will be honored with the NMHS Distinguished Service Award on the 175th anniversary of its founding in 1845, for educating tens of thousands of Navy and Marine Corps officers whose leadership has helped defend the nation and the world for generations. Superintendent of the Academy VADM Sean Buck, USN, and the Commander of the Brigade of Midshipmen will accept the award.

LATEST NEWS Susan Curtin, chair of the National Coast Guard Museum Association, is pleased to announce its 5th Alexander Hamilton Award, given to individuals and organizations whose efforts have had the greatest impact on forwarding the goals of the National Coast Guard Museum.

Gary Jobson, America’s Cup winner and America’s “Ambassador of Sailing,” will serve as Master of Ceremonies. The American Society of Marine Artists Invitational Gallery hosted by world-acclaimed marine artist Patrick O’Brien will showcase a variety of works on display and for sale. Individual dinner registrations are $300. A block of rooms has been reserved at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Washington from 22-25 April at the rate of $269/night, plus applicable taxes. For more information, sponsorship opportunities and to register, please visit Beacon of Light Educational Finest Hours & So Close to Home Annual Awards Dinner Live Auction We look forward to seeing you in Washington in Series 2020!11/3 and 11/4 Initiatives Seminar Take a sneak peak at the items featured in this Education is the movement from darkness to light. -Allan Bloom Education of the next generation is critical to carrying the memory of our maritime history forward, and we thank all of you who have supported our upcoming Annual Awards Dinner […]

Join the National Maritime Historical Society and New York Times Bestselling Author Michael Tougias for a Film Screening, Lecture & Book Signing The Finest Hours & So Close to Home. Friday, November 3, 2017 Refreshments […]

year’s Annual Awards Dinner Live Auction! Even if you are not able to attend, you can still participate and support the National Maritime Historical Society. Let us do the bidding for you! Call 914-737-7878 […]




UPCOMING EVENTS Lake Union Boats Afloat Show September 14-17 –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

102017 Historic Naval Ships Association Annual Conference September 26-29

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Sea History



57th Annual Meeting of the National Maritime Historical Society

8-10 May 2020 · Independence Seaport Museum · Philadelphia, PA

Olympia and Becuna. Photo courtesy Visit Philadelphia®


The National Maritime Historical Society will hold its 57th Annual Meeting the weekend of 8–10 May 2020 at the Independence Seaport Museum on Philadelphia’s Penn’s Landing. Join fellow Society members, listen in on presentations from leaders across the maritime heritage community, and enjoy interactive tours of Philadelphia’s historic waterfront treasures, including USS Olympia, the oldest steel warship afloat in the world. Since her launch in 1892, flagship Olympia has served as a symbol of American achievement and technical advancement. Today, she is a museum ship and National Historic Landmark being restored for future generations. Kicking off the Annual Meeting weekend, on Friday, 8 May, attendees will cross over the Delaware River and enjoy an interactive tour and lunch aboard USS New Jersey, launched in 1942 and one of the most decorated battleships in naval history. Beacon of Light Educational Finest Hours & So Close to Home Annual Awards Dinner Live Auction Our AnnualInitiatives Business Meeting and maritime heritage from regional leaders will be held Seminar Series presentations 11/3 and 11/4 Take a sneak peak at the items featured in this the morning of Saturday, 9 May, followed by lunch and private tours of the vast maritime art and artifact year’s Annual Awards Dinner Live Auction! Even Education is the movement from darkness to Join the National Maritime Historical Society and collections Independence Seaport submarine and cruiser Olympia. if you are not able to attend, you can still particilight. -Allan Bloomof Education of the next generNewMuseum, York Times Bestselling AuthorBecuna, Michael Toupate and support the National Maritime Historiation is critical to carrying the memory of our gias for a Film Screening, Lecture & Book Signing Saturday evening you are invited to the Independence Seaport Museum 2020 Gala.for We cal Society.Waterfront Let us do the bidding you!are Call maritime history forward, and we thank all of The Finest Hours & So Close to Home. Friday, 914-737-7878 […] 2020 Independence delighted to announce thatAnnual NMHS president Green with the you who have supported our upcoming November 3,Burchenal 2017 Refreshments […]will be honored Awards DinnerMuseum […] MORE the >> plans to save READ MORE >> Seaport Award for Maritime Preservation, and we hope you willREAD support

READ MORE >> Olympia and to honor our president and the Society.


To wrap up the weekend, on Sunday, 10 May, attendees will enjoy a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the nearby Museum of the American Revolution, first opened to the public in 2017. The price of the Annual Meeting, including continental breakfast, luncheon, presentations and tour, is $75 per person. The Friday excursion to USS New Jersey, Saturday evening gala, and Sunday tour of the Museum of the American Revolution are additional. A block of rooms has been reserved on the waterfront at Hilton UPCOMING EVENTS Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing from 7-10 May at the rate of $219/night, plus applicable taxes. For more Lake Union Boats Afloat Showopportunities and to register, please visit information, sponsorship Ship Ahoy... September 14-17 We look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia in 2020! Sign up to recieve emails about –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

SEA HISTORY 2019–20 Annual Conference 2017 Historic 169, NavalWINTER Ships Association September 26-29

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n a gray and partially overcast day in the middle of June 2019, the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) launched the newest Jones Act vessel for the Matson fleet and the US merchant marine. Named Lurline, she was the sixth vessel to carry this iconic name for the shipping line. Her original namesake was a brig built in 1887 and owned by Captain William Matson. This new Lurline is a Kanaloa-class container and roll-on/ roll-off ship, better known as a Con-Ro. At 870 feet long, she can transport 3,500 containers and 500 vehicles between the west coast of the United States and Hawaii. Her diesel engines can produce speeds up to 23 knots on either conventional fuel or liquefied natural gas (LNG), used to reduce emissions when operating close to shore.1 She and her sister-ship, Matsonia, will replace three older diesel-powered ships. Lurline and Matsonia will join a diminished US deep-draft merchant fleet (ships greater than 1,000 gross tons) that consists of only 180 ships as of 2019.2 In terms of total size, today’s American commercial fleet ranks 22nd in the world, a precipitous fall from its position of dominance after the Second World War when 5,500 ships were added to the thousand pre-war ships to make it the largest merchant marine in the world.3 Today, the vast majority of ship construction is located in the Far East, with the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, and Japan building 90.5 percent of the world’s ships. The largest owners of ships today are

by Salvatore R. Mercogliano, PhD

matson, inc.


A Century of the Jones Act

The 870-foot Lurline, being launched into San Diego Bay on 15 June 2019. According to Matson CEO and chairman Matt Cox, “The construction of this ship required 150,000 man-hours to complete. It’s over a year’s work for about 2,000 professionals…engineers, tradesmen and lots of support people. And over its expected lifespan, this ship will generate approximately 4.5 million man-hours of work opportunity for the US mariners who will operate it…not to mention all the dock workers and terminal personnel.” Greece, Japan, and China, and the majority of the world’s fleet fly the flags of Panama, the Marshall Islands, Liberia, and Hong Kong. With lower construction costs overseas, better corporate operating environments, and reduced legislation and oversight, many ship owners prefer to operate outside the United States. One of the primary reasons for building Lurline in California is a century-old law known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more commonly known as the Jones Act. Opponents

of the Jones Act, which requires ships in the coastal trade to be American-built, -crewed, -owned, and -operated, often attribute the decline of the US merchant marine to this piece of legislation and also blame many of the nation’s woes on it. Nevertheless, Lurline and the 180 ships in the US fleet, including the 100 ships meeting the provisions of the Jones Act, are vital to not only this nation’s commerce but also its national security. It is the latter that led directly to the creation of this act a hundred years ago.

hyundai heavy industries

The History On 2 April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before Congress and asked for a declaration of war due to a series of attacks upon American merchant ships. Characterized by historian Rodney Carlisle as attacks on our “sovereignty at sea,” Wilson built his case on an earlier statement when he declared an “Emergency in Water Transportation of the United States” on 5 February 1917.4 Since the outbreak of the Great The Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) Ulsan Shipyard in South Korea is the largest shipyard in the world. Today, HHI accounts for 1015% of the global shipbuilding market. 12


Launch of the Quistconck at Hog Island shipyard in Philadelphia, 5 August 1918. President Woodrow Wilson and First Lady Edith Wilson are standing on the platform on opposite sides of the flagpole. SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20

completed after the Armistice.5 Yet, this vast war-built fleet needed to be managed and more importantly, the nation did not want to ever find itself in the position it did at the start of the Great War—dependent on other nations for its trade and unable to transport and sustain its military overseas and return them after the war. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 The end of the war found the United States on the precipice of maritime dominance and an opportunity for the nation to use its commercial fleet to exert its influence, as cited by Jeffrey Safford in Wilsonian Maritime Diplomacy, 1913–1921. To do this, the nation needed to embrace a new policy and it found two advocates. William

S. Benson, the first Chief of Naval Operations, assumed the chairmanship of the US Shipping Board on 13 March 1920. In his 1923 book, The Merchant Marine, he clearly stated his position: “Constant protection can come only from an ample navy and a permanent merchant marine, under our own flag. A merchant fleet of adequate size for our peace time commerce, manned by American citizens whose loyalty will keep them at their posts when danger comes, and whose experience will equip them for higher office in our non-combatant fleet when it serves as an auxiliary to our navy, is not a mere instrument of commerce—it is a necessity.” He noted that with the scuttling of the High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow in June

national archives and records adminstration

War, the nation reeled economically as the merchant fleets of the world vacated the American trade. The largest commercial fleet, that of the British, was diverted to support the war effort, while the second largest, that of Germany, sought shelter and was chased from the high seas. The US fleet was third, but too small to pick up the slack. As a result, the price to ship a ton of cotton jumped from $0.35/ton to $6.10/ton by 1917. The rate to charter a ship increased twenty-fold and the domestic economy went into a recession as goods piled up on the docks and imports stopped arriving in American ports. On 14 June 1917, only two months after Congress declared war against Imperial Germany, fourteen chartered American merchant ships stood ready to set sail for Europe with the four infantry regiments of the US Army’s First Division. One of the ships was drawn from the transAtlantic trade, two were from the Caribbean, but the remaining eleven were all involved in the US coastal trade. The ships served as the embryo for the fleet that would eventually transport the American Expeditionary Force across the Atlantic in World War One. Some of the vessels were taken into the Navy as part of the Cruiser and Transport Force or the Naval Overseas Transportation Service, while some returned to the domestic trade. However, these ships would not be enough, as the US only transported 45 percent of the AEF and had to rely on its allies for the rest. An emergency shipbuilding program, authorized under the Shipping Act of 1916 and the US Shipping Board (USSB), led to the creation of the Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC). Eventually headed by Edward Hurley and assisted by Charles Piez and Charles Schwab, the USSB and EFC oversaw a program that resulted in 2,318 ships. The vast majority of the ships were still on the building ways when the war ended; the massive Hog Island ship fabrication facility, on the site of the Philadelphia International Airport today, had fifty ways, but its 122 ships were all


oregon historical society


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1919, and with the Conference on the Limitation of Armaments setting the US Navy and Royal Navy at parity, the importance of the nation’s merchant marine increased significantly. The higher building and operating costs for the American commercial fleet, due to “higher standards prescribed by our laws and by our customs for the workmen engaged in the construction of the vessel,” much of which was brought about during the Progressive Era by advocates such as Robert La Follette, required a government policy to protect the industry.6 The other advocate was Senator Wesley Jones (R-WA), who navigated House Resolution 10378 through the Senate. A noted reference work on this subject states “Republican senator Wesley Jones, who rammed the bill through Congress without any debate, has been the popular term used to refer to the section of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which reserves the coastwise and intercoastal trade to US-flag vessels built in the United States and owned by American citizens.”7 The Jones Act in its entirety is much more than this one narrow focus. While there is no denying the role played by these two, Benson for the visibility he brought to the issue and Jones for steering it through the Senate, there were many others who pushed this policy through. On 8 November 1919, William Stedman Greene (R-MA), arose in the House of Representatives and moved that they form a Committee of the Whole to consider HR 10378, “To Provide for the Promotion and Maintenance of the American Merchant Marine.” Forwarding the bill

Senator Wesley Jones (1863–1932) with the unanimous consent of the Committee on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries, he announced, “I believe the question of the American merchant marine is the most important question that has been brought to the attention of the House.”8 The paramount issue he identified was the fact that only seven American ships had been involved in overseas trade before the start of the war. With the new war-built fleet of the US Shipping Board and Emergency Fleet Corporation, he hoped to see these ships sold to American firms and utilize them on key international trade routes. The issue of coastwise trade, with which the Jones Act is synonymous, was only mentioned in passing. Laws dealing with the preference of domestic over foreign ships in our coastwise trade were a bedrock of the early national government,

specifically, the third law passed by the First Congress (1 Stat. 27, enacted 20 July 1789). It was codified in 1817 by disallowing any ship, either partially or wholly foreignowned, from participating in cabotage. During the First World War, that law was relaxed due to the shortage of American hulls to transport goods and the need to divert American coastwise vessels into the foreign trade. With the end of the conflict and an inventory of a large war-built fleet, the restoration of the 1817 provisions were to be incorporated into a separate law. Greene’s bill passed the House on a vote of 240 to 8, with 184 not voting. HR 10378 was then referred to the Senate. On 6 January 1920, Senator Joseph E. Ransdell (D-LA) introduced the bill to the chamber. He noted that the legislation was “the outgrowth of very serious consideration of the subject for a period of eight months by the National Merchant Marine Association.” The focus of the bill, with only twelve sections, was to shift the government-owned merchant fleet into private hands. The Senate referred the bill to the Committee of Commerce, headed by Senator Jones. On 4 May, Jones provided SR 573 on the committee’s proposed changes and amendments. It was at that time that the Senate conference committee, led by Jones and Ransdell, and joined by Charles L. McNary (R-OR), William M. Calder (R-NY), and Furnifold M. Simmons (D-NC), unveiled a substantially revised bill that incorporated Representative Greene’s earlier work, and that of many others into a larger, more expansive merchant marine omnibus bill. Less than a week later, Senator Jones was able to get approval for consideration of the bill by the Senate. The bill was debated from 10 to 21 May, when the Senate recommended the five Senators form a conference committee with the House. Representative Greene, joined by George Edmonds (R-PA), Frederick W. Rowe (RNY), Rufus Hardy (D-TX), and Ladislas Lazaro (D-LA)—later replaced by William B. Bankhead (D-AL)­—held three conference committees to hash out the language and changes to the bill. The Oregon Shipbuilding Company was the largest of the Kaiser shipyards in the Pacific Northwest. At its peak during WWII, it employed more than 35,000 workers. SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20


us navy photo

What is today Section 27 was originally Section 29; the only amendments made to it after its inclusion in the new bill was the addition of two provisions that provided for the completion of the Alaska Railroad and a restriction that areas already connected in the US by only Canadian rail lines could still utilize them. On 2 June, the conference committees presented their reports, but some issues remained, and a final submission was not made until two days later. With the changes incorporated, on 4 June they voted, with the House passing the vote 145–120 (with 1 present and 168 not voting) and the Senate affirmed 40–11 (with 45 not voting). Just prior to the vote in the House of Representatives, Congressman Greene addressed his colleagues on the bill before them. Reflecting on his 22 years of service in the House, he announced, “Ever since I have been in this body, I have been in favor of an American merchant marine.” He recounted the introduction of his original bill on 8 November and how after a day of open debate it was met by nearly unanimous support but then went to sit in the Senate for seven months. He concluded, “We have occupied considerable time since we have been empowered by the votes of this body to prepare and present an American merchant marine bill.” Over in the north wing of the Capitol, Senator Wesley Jones was also making his plea to his colleagues: “When the war began, we had practically no ships under the American flag on the high seas. Practically the only shipping we had was in the coastwise trade, built up under our coastwise laws; and if we had not built up that merchant marine under the coastwise laws, the result of this war might have been far different.” He aimed to provide a historical backing for this law: “How did Great Britain build up her merchant marine? She built it up by saying that goods from her colonies should not be brought into Great Britain except under the British flag and in British ships. She continued that policy for years and years until she had built up her merchant marine. Then she removed those restrictions.” He determined, “We want to build up our merchant marine in the foreign trade, the overseas trade. We had no such merchant marine when the war broke out…ships alone do not make a merchant marine. They must

Laila Linares, a 2006 alumna of the US Merchant Marine Academy, sailed as a licensed engineering officer on Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships for the first three years of her career after graduation. To ensure a steady supply of well-trained merchant mariners, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) funds the USMMA at Kings Point, New York. The six state-owned maritime academies receive partial funding from MARAD. have cargoes, they must have traffic, they must have business, or they will be laid up or be sold to foreign countries. Routes must be established, and trade developed to maintain them.” With the passage in both houses, Public Law 66–261 went to President Woodrow Wilson for his signature and became law the following day. For the first time, the nation had an official policy toward the American merchant marine, as laid out in its preamble: That it is necessary for the national defense and for the proper growth of its foreign and domestic commerce that the United States shall have a merchant marine of the best equipped and most suitable types of vessels sufficient to carry the greater portion of its commerce and serve as a naval or military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency, ultimately to be owned and operated privately by citizens of the United States; and it is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States to do whatever may be necessary to develop and encourage the maintenance of such a merchant marine.9

A Century Later Opponents to the Jones Act have argued that this policy has not only been a hindrance to American maritime success, but the cause of its decline.10 Their attacks focus on the waning of the merchant marine from a position of dominance at the end of the WWII to its current position as 22nd in the world.11 With a total of 3,692 ships in the fleet (those over 100 gross tons), the vast majority are offshore supply vessels, tugs, and barges, and only 180 are larger than 1,000 gross tons. Groups such as the CATO Institute and the American Enterprise Institute focus on the greater expenses to operate the ships, to build and repair them in the US, and the unfair burden placed on citizens in remote areas of the nation, such as Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. What they omit from their discussion are factors beyond the Jones Act. The introduction of open registries (or flags of convenience), the curtailing of coastal trade due to the construction of the Interstate Highway System and Colonial Pipeline, the end of differential subsidies in the 1980s, and the shift in naval construction out of public shipyards to private ones to build the 600-ship Navy, all contributed to the decline of the US merchant marine. 15

ntsb marine accident report ntsn/mar-17/01

The issue remains: Why do we still need the Jones Act after 100 years? The answer lies in the statements of Admiral Benson, Congressman Greene, and Senator Jones; in the preamble of the act itself, and in the merchant marine’s performance in conflicts since its passage—national defense. As a world power, the United States has global commitments. It has military forces forward deployed on nearly every continent in the world. In time of war or national emergency, the military needs to project its forces from the continental US. While it is routine to transfer personnel via commercial airliner, the same cannot be done with the bombs, bullets, and black oil needed to sustain the military’s presence across the oceans. Only commercial merchant ships can provide the necessary tonnage. In September 2019, the United States Transportation Command, the military headquarters tasked with overseeing logistics for the Department of Defense, ordered the activation of 33 ships in the surge sealift fleet.12 All told, these vessels represented over half of the 61 ships in the reserve fleet owned by the government. The ships are normally maintained with a small operating crew and must draw from the commercial sector for their additional manpower. As the ships underwent their activation, mariners, many of whom are employed on ships in the Jones Act—such as some sailing with Matson—answered the call. Much as they did in the First World War, when the 11 ships in that initial troop convoy were pulled from their coastal duties to transport the 1st Division overseas, the 33 ships activated at the end of September depended on the mariners, companies, and ship maintenance companies that support the domestic merchant marine. While Jones Act ships have not been commonly with-

El Faro was lost with all hands during Hurricane Joaquin in September 2015. drawn from trade in conflicts such as those in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf or Iraq, they have provided the corpus of personnel. In a potential peer-to-peer conflict, or regional conflict in East Asia that may not involve the United States, the nation could find itself in a position akin to that experienced by the nation in 1914. That situation led to the passage of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, and its need, then, is still resonating a century later. Today, the Jones Act, along with several other programs—cargo preference laws and the Department of Defense’s Maritime Security Program—maintain ships in the US fleet. All is not well with the fleet, as ship replacement is too slow and expensive. China is rapidly building up its naval and commercial fleet while the United States lags behind. The loss of SS El Faro and its 33 crewmembers in 2015 highlights the ever-present danger of operating vessels, even in the coastwise trade. The heads of the Maritime Administration and the Transportation Command testified to the dire state of the sealift fleet and merchant marine in March 2019.13

It is easy to write off the American merchant marine as too expensive and outdated due to the Jones Act. But the question needs be asked: Is the United States prepared to outsource its coastwise trade and lose the majority of its remaining deep-draft merchant ships? Such a loss may provide short-term economic benefit, but the longterm danger and threat to national security may prove fatal. This was the concern echoed a hundred years ago and it remains as pertinent today as it did then.

William S. Benson, The Merchant Marine: A Necessity in Time of War: A Source of Independence and Strength in Time of Peace, (New York: MacMillan Company, 1923). 7René de la Pedraja, A Historical Dictionary of the US Merchant Marine and Shipping Industry: Since the Introduction of Steam (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994), 286-287. 8 9


Sal Mercogliano is an Associate Professor of History at Campbell University in North Carolina. He is author of Fourth Arm of Defense: Sealift and Maritime Logistics in the Vietnam War and won 2nd Prize in the 2019 Chief of Naval Operations History Essay Contest with his work, “Suppose They Gave a War and the Merchant Marine Did Not Come?” He is a vice president of the North American Society for Oceanic History and a member of the Sea History Editorial Advisory Board. (The original legislation can be viewed online at by searching for “Pub. L. 66-261”.)

NOTES files/oictures/DS_USFlag-Fleet_20190815_ Bundle.pdf. 3 files/docs/outreach/history/historical-documents-and-resources and www./ PublicationsLibrary/rmt2018_en.pdf. 4 5 tnm_26_407-424.pdf. 1 2


6; 1 1 w w w. c a t a l o g . h a t h i t r u s t . o r g / Re c o rd / 000969248 and 12 cfm?ID=802CA6F2-5056-A127-59427A66 3A8F9A02&yr=2019. 13; org/2019/03/07/transcom-marad-want-speedpurchase-used-ships-reserve-fleet.


Sail Aboard the Liberty Ship John W. Brown 2020 Cruises on the Chesapeake Bay May 30, August 8, & September 19

Check our website for more information about the cruises we are planning for 2020.

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P. O. Box 350190 Jacksonville, FL 32235-0190 Phone/Fax: (904) 645-0150 email:


Project Liberty Ship is a Baltimore-based, all volunteer, nonprofit organization. SS JOHN W. BROWN is maintained in her WWII configuration. Visitors must be able to climb steps to board.


The Catalpa Incident: An American Whaler Getaway Vessel and Australia’s Most Daring Prison Break by Erika Cosme

“This ship is sailing under the American flag and she is on the high seas. If you fire on me, I warn you that you are firing on the American flag!”


courtesy new bedford whaling museum


Barque Catalpa, by Charles Sydney Raleigh (1830–1925). Painting donated to the New Bedford Whaling Museum by Mrs. James A. Ryan in 1961. Between 1866 and 1867, the Brotherhood was plotting a revolution in Ireland, but the uprisings were all quelled by British troops and the insurgents were arrested and tried. Those who were part of the British military were court-martialed. Among these were John Boyle O’Reilly, Thomas Darragh, Martin Hogan, James Wilson, Thomas Hassett, Michael Harrington, and Robert Cranston. After a stint in various British prisons, they were condemned to serve their time in Fremantle. O’Reilly, though tried and convicted of treason, was only sentenced to twenty years. Each of the others was given a life sentence, and they would later become known as the Fremantle Six. They, along with 280 other convicts, were loaded into Hougoumont’s hold for the three-month voyage to Western Australia. Life in the Convict Establishment was grueling, harsh, and full of despair. Any prisoner who stepped out of line or tried to escape was subjected to severe punish-

ment. Consequences included hard labor, often while shackled in leg irons; solitary confinement with a restricted diet of bread Captain George Anthony, circa 1897

library of congress

eorge S. Anthony, captain of the whaling barque Catalpa, hollered this statement across the water to the crew of the British steamer SS Georgette, which was in hot pursuit. Catalpa was making way for the open sea with six Irish prisoners, who had escaped from Fremantle Prison in one of the most daring prison breaks in Australian history. The first Australian penal colony was established when a fleet of British ships loaded with convicts arrived in January 1788 after a hellish—for the prisoners— long voyage from Portsmouth, England. Over the next 80 years, more than one hundred thousand convicts from Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales were transported to various prisons Down Under. There, they lived in cramped cells and were condemned to punishing hard labor. Fremantle Gaol in Western Australia was among the harshest of these penitentiaries. The First Fleet, eleven British vessels loaded with more than 700 convicts, sailed into Fremantle Harbor in 1850. The Convict Establishment, as the prison was first known, was built by convict labor beginning in 1852, with prisoners moving into the main cellblock by 1855. Construction was completed in December 1859, and, almost a decade later in 1867, the facility was renamed Fremantle Prison. The last ship to transport British convicts to Western Australia was the Hougoumont, which arrived there on 10 January 1868. Aboard would be several Irishmen who would become unforgettable figures in Australian, American, and Irish history. It was during this same period that the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) was founded in Ireland, along with its American counterpart, the Fenian Brotherhood, also known as Clan na Gael. These groups sought Ireland’s independence from British control. Britain soon declared membership in the IRB a crime, punishable by deportation to the Fremantle penal colony.


national library of australia

The Convict Establishment, Fremantle, Western Australia, 1866, by T. H. J. Browne.


joined the British army. His affiliation with the IRB and its revolts landed O’Reilly in prison, until in 1867; he was shipped off with other Irish prisoners to the Australian penal colony. His time in Fremantle Prison was filled with desolation, to the point that he attempted suicide. By 1869 O’Reilly was determined to break out. He initially planned to escape into the bush, but his friend and local priest, Father Patrick McCabe, cautioned him against it. Instead, he offered to assist him with a better plan. McCabe managed to help O’Reilly successfully escape by sea aboard a whaling vessel, eventually arriving in Philadelphia. From there, O’Reilly made his way to New York City. Knowing the harshness of life in Fremantle and having freed himself from such despondency, John Boyle O’Reilly, anguished and haunted that his fellow Fenians were wasting away in Fremantle, would be the perfect man to help organize John Boyle O’Reilly

library of congress

and water; floggings of up to 100 lashes; and in some cases, death by hanging. Those who managed to escape faced two options: abscond by land, or by sea. By land, one would have to navigate uncharted wilderness infested with dangerous animals and hostile natives and, in the end, always be vulnerable to recapture. Wandering in the heat without proper food or water would leave one confused, starving, and thirsty. Down the road at the port in Fremantle, the sight of ships enticed fugitives to try escaping by sea. Yet this option had challenges all its own. If an escapee made it to the harbor, there was little chance that a vessel would risk concealing a convict on board. One could try swimming to international waters—a three-plus mile swim— and hope to be picked up by a passing foreign vessel, but this was an unrealistic option. The waters surrounding the coast there were known to be shark-infested, and the chances of surviving a long swim and then just waiting in the open ocean were slim to none. Most prisoners recognized that there were indeed two ways out—not by land or by sea—but either by serving your time, or death. For the six Fenians, all serving life sentences, it seemed hopeless that they would ever be free again. Despite the despairing notion that there may be no viable means of escape, many prisoners still attempted the jail break. Most were caught, but several managed to get away, including John Boyle O’ Reilly, who fled Fremantle’s harrowing confines and made it to freedom. John Boyle O’Reilly was born in June 1844, in Dowth, Ireland. Coming from a reputable family, O’Reilly had an advantageous upbringing and education. He became a skilled writer and worked for several local newspapers, making his way up from printer to journalist. At age nineteen, with Ireland under British rule, O’Reilly

an even more daring breakout for his Irish compatriots still imprisoned. When the incarcerated Irishmen heard of O’Reilly’s escape, they naturally hoped for their own exodus. Wilson and the other Fenian convicts, with aid from Father McCabe, sent letters to New York, imploring members of Clan na Gael to help them escape. But no assistance came to them. It was not until 1874, five years after O’Reilly’s escape, that Clan na Gael member John Devoy received a letter from James Wilson that would re-invigorate the cause to rescue the remaining Fenian prisoners. John Devoy was born in Kill, County Kildare, Ireland in 1842. Unlike his fellow IRB brothers in Fremantle, he did not serve in the British army, but instead served in the French Foreign Legion for a short period. When he returned to Ireland, he joined the IRB and was appointed chief Fenian recruiter within the British Army stationed in Ireland. He later was arrested and tried for treason, and between 1866 and 1867 he served time in various British prisons. After authenticating claims of cruelty and torture of prisoners, the British government granted amnesty to remaining civilian prisoners and Devoy was released and exiled to America, where he joined Clan na Gael in New York. The amnesty did not apply to the Fremantle Six. In 1874, he received James Wilson’s letter, in which he pleaded for help finding a way out of Fremantle. In his letter, Wilson wrote that his was “a voice from a tomb,” for Fremantle was indeed a dead end to those who resided there. His pleas would be heard and answered. Devoy, along with O’Reilly and the leadership within Clan na Gael, set up a planning committee and began raising funds to execute a rescue mission. They also needed a getaway vessel. In March 19

1875 they purchased a three-masted, 202ton New Bedford whaling barque named Catalpa for $5,200. Captain George Anthony, a Quaker from New Bedford, Massachusetts, was recruited to command the ship on its voyage. Anthony had no ties to the Irish cause, but later explained he agreed because it was “the right thing to do.” Catalpa was outfitted, a crew was hired, and on 29 April 1875 they put to sea on a supposed whaling voyage. Initially, the crew had no knowledge of the voyage’s true purpose. Catalpa did go whaling, sailing for nearly a year to both maintain their ruse and offset their expenses. Meanwhile, a duo of Irish agents, Thomas Desmond and John J. Breslin, traveled to Australia to make arrangements for the escape and prepare the six prisoners for what would come. Desmond was born in Cobh, County Cork, Ireland, but he had been living in California for many years. There, he remained heavily involved in political and social events within the area’s Irish community. Fellow Fenian John Breslin, from

library of congress

John Breslin (a.k.a. James Collins) Drogheda, County Meath, Ireland, was living in Boston, when he and Desmond were enlisted to help Clan na Gael with its operation. They were tasked with preparing the land portion of the escape. The two left from San Francisco in September 1875, arriving a month later in Australia. They

courtesy of the mariners’ museum and park collection, newport news, virginia

created fictitious personas as part of their subterfuge. Breslin assumed the identity of “James Collins,” posing as a wealthy American businessman interested in making investments in the area. Fremantle Prison’s warden freely gave him tours of the prison on the premise of showing him the cheap labor pool that could be made available to him, allowing him to evaluate the area and discreetly make contact with the Fenian prisoners. Desmond adopted the moniker “Thomas Johnson.” He was tasked with finding work in a carriage shop or factory so that he could secure horses and carts for the getaway. Both men played their roles well while waiting for Catalpa’s eventual arrival. They kept the prisoners aware as best as possible, reminding them not to lose faith. Months passed by with little to no word on Catalpa’s arrival status. Finally, on 29 March 1876, Breslin received word that Catalpa had arrived in Bunbury, approximately 100 miles away from Fremantle. Breslin and Captain Anthony met in person and corresponded via coded telegraph messages to deliberate over the final phases of the escape plan. They chose midApril as the best time. Breslin continued passing messages along to Wilson, informing him of the date and details of their scheme. Bad weather and other issues caused the men to postpone their escape date several times. It was decided that 17 April 1876, the day after Easter, would be their best chance. All six prisoners were working outside the prison walls during this time. On that Monday, Breslin and Desmond were nearby, ready with the horses and carts—twowheeled horse-traps—to make the twentymile ride to Rockingham, where Captain Anthony and a small crew in one of Catalpa’s whaling boats were waiting on the beach. It was an hour before the prison guards noticed that the men were missing, and the authorities could not be notified because Breslin and Desmond had cut the telegraph wire. Nevertheless, the race was on as prison authorities began their search for the escapees. (left, top) Stern carving, cornucopia, from barque Catalpa; (left) American onepounder saluting cannon.



courtesy of the mariners’ museum and park collection, newport news, virginia

Bark Catalpa of New Bedford, 1876, by E. N. Russell: (left to right) Police boat, ship’s boat with Captain Anthony and the escaped Fenians, Catalpa, and in the distance off the whaleship’s starboard quarter is SS Georgette in pursuit. After an hour-long frantic ride, Breslin, Desmond, and the six Fenian convicts ditched the horses and carts and got into the whaling boat with Catalpa’s crew, who began rowing for their lives. Catalpa was holding station offshore, almost twenty miles out, waiting for the men to make their boat journey out to them but careful to stay past the territorial limit. Only a half-mile off the beach, their flight was discovered when a squad of mounted police spotted the Fenians in the whaleboat from the shore. They did not fire on them. Instead, they sent word back to officials in Fremantle. Subsequently, a patrol cutter and the 152-foot steamship Georgette were enlisted to intercept the prisoners at sea, in what would become a cat-and-mouse game at the edge of the colony’s territorial waters. SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20

SS Georgette made it out to Catalpa ahead of the whaleboat, somehow not spotting the open boat in the choppy seas. Her master, Captain O’Grady, brought his ship abeam of Catalpa and demanded to come aboard to see if the escaped prisoners were on board. The mate, Samuel Smith, who was in command of Catalpa in his captain’s absence, assured him they were not, and denied his request. Georgette was running low on coal and was forced to return to Fremantle to re-supply. As the Georgette steamed away from the scene, the men in the whaleboat continued to row feverishly to Catalpa. Captain Anthony tried his best to get to the ship, but around five o’clock that evening a gale rose up, forcing the men to ride it out on the open sea. It was not clear to the crew aboard Catalpa, nor to

the men in the open boat, that they would survive the night. As the storm let up early Tuesday morning, 18 April, the men resumed rowing. They had lost their mast in the blow, but Captain Anthony had jury-rigged a sail to an oar and they were once again making way for the ship under sail and oar. As they closed in on Catalpa—and their salvation—Georgette once again came into view. With full coal bunkers and with a regiment of soldiers onboard, Captain O’Grady again demanded to search the whaling ship. Smith replied that Captain Anthony was unavailable and again denied O’Grady’s request. According to a later account by Anthony, when the men in the whaleboat saw the Georgette returning, they struck the sail, shipped their oars, and lay down 21

Captain Anthony of harboring fugitives, and again demanded to come aboard. Anthony reminded Georgette’s commander that they were flying the American flag and positioned beyond the territorial limit. To be fired upon could start an international incident. O’Grady, with no options left, was forced to back down. As the breeze grew stronger, Catalpa at last set a course for home. Georgette gave chase for another hour but her captain recognized the futility of pursuit and returned to Fremantle. The Fremantle Six were on their way to freedom. Four months later, Captain Anthony, his crew, and the six rescued prisoners entered into New York Harbor on 19 August 1876 to a hero’s welcome. The Catalpa rescue was celebrated by Irish and Irish-Americans as an act of direct defiance against Great Britain. Many Americans empathized with the Irish, for the Catalpa events in 1876 took place almost exactly 100 years since America had declared independence from Great Britain.

The rescued Irishmen continued helping out the Fenian cause throughout their lifetimes, but make no mistake, the years trapped in the confines of Fremantle Prison had taken a toll on their mental and physical health. Captain Anthony—his whaling career sacrificed for this effort— retired, remaining in New Bedford with his family. Catalpa was sold and resumed whaling for a while until she was decommissioned and turned into a coal barge. Captain Anthony, John Breslin, and Thomas Desmond, along with the Fremantle Six—Thomas Darragh, Martin Hogan, James Wilson, Thomas Hassett, Michael Harrington, and Robert Cranston—would go down in history for being part of what many describe as the most audacious prison break in Australian history. Erika Cosme is the Content & Interpretation Developer for the Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia. (100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA; Ph. 757 596-2222;

courtesy of the mariners’ museum and park collection, newport news, virginia

in the boat one on top of the other, below the gunwale to avoid being seen. The steamer passed within a half a mile of them but maintained course and speed, heading for Catalpa. With no legal authority to board a vessel in international waters, Georgette gave up and once more returned to port. The six escapees finally made it aboard Catalpa, and the crew prepared to set sail for the open sea. Yet, just as it seemed that luck was finally on their side, the wind fell out, leaving the ship unable to get out of the area. With nowhere to go, everyone onboard grew anxious, fearful that they would get caught. The next morning brought with it a fair breeze to the great relief of the crew and fugitives aboard Catalpa. As they prepared to sail further offshore, SS Georgette returned for a third time. When Captain Anthony refused to heave to and be boarded, Georgette fired a warning shot across the whaleship’s bow. With armed militia standing by, Captain O’Grady accused

The Catalpa, the Rescuers, and the Rescued 22


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“There is NO substitute for Experience” 23

“When We See Whales”—Transcribing Captain Lawrence’s Logbook by Mia Sigler

mystic seaport museum

o began the 1849 voyage of the whaleship Commodore Morris, as plainly as any other whaling voyage of the era. While the voyage itself may not have been any more remarkable than any other whaling voyage, the surviving log and chart left behind by Captain Lewis H. Lawrence offer a unique and detailed look into whaling history that is still of use today. By the time Captain Lawrence put to sea aboard the whaleship Commodore Morris, the offshore Yankee whaling industry had nearly reached its peak. The Commodore Morris was one of more than 700 vessels in the 1849 American whaling fleet, and her crew could count on a good market for whale products, which were still in high demand, but the industry was just beginning its impending decline. Yankee whaling first found substantial commercial success in the early 18th century, when the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) could be caught in large numbers off American shores. It was not long before the regional population of North Atlantic right whales was depleted past the point of further commercial exploitation. As early as the 1750s, whaleships were forced to attempt farther travel, hunt longer, and target different whale species to return home with the same amount of whale oil and baleen they’d had in early years. In

Lawrence’s time, the sperm whale had become the new target of choice, prized for its spermaceti that could be literally bucketed out of their heads and which burned more cleanly and brightly than oil rendered from whale blubber. Sea captains kept logbooks then and now. In addition to the official logbooks for the ship’s records, many kept rough logs or personal journals as well to document their experience at sea. Captain Lawrence was no exception. Not only were ships’ logs an important contemporary record for shipowners, captains, and the industry in which they served, they also serve today as an important primary source for historians of all kinds. Even climate scientists are discovering a wealth of information that can be gleaned from weather and environmental observations of past decades and centuries to help establish a baseline for modern studies. Lawrence’s logbooks from the Commodore Morris have survived and are in the collections belonging to the Falmouth Historical Society, in Massachusetts. Captain Lawrence was born in Falmouth to a family of whalemen. All of his five brothers worked aboard whaleships, and three of them were whaleship captains like himself. I was introduced to one of Captain Lawrence’s logbooks as a student with the

falmouth historical society


“Comd Morris Outward Bound Remarks on board August 14th 1849 first part light airs from the SSW. and fair weather left Woodshole harbour in tow of steamer Massachusetts of Nantucket at 12 oclock come to anchor at Tarpaulin cove at 2 oclock Am in 9 fathoms water middle part light breezes from the SE and fair weather latter part got under way at 7 o.clock and stood into the Vinyards.” —Captain Lewis H. Lawrence, 1849

Photo of a young Captain Lewis Lawrence. Sea Education Association (SEA) during its Global Ocean program in the fall of 2018. SEA offers undergraduate studyabroad programs that focus on marine science and maritime studies, as well as handson sailing operations and navigation. Half of the twelve-week program is spent on shore at the SEA campus in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and the other half is dedicated to sailing aboard one of SEA’s two sailing research vessels. Our group would join the brigantine SSV Robert C. Seamans off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island and sail northeast to the waters off the Kermadec Islands. For the Maritime History and Culture class, our professor, Richard King, encouraged us to keep journals, and used this as a segue to introduce us to the project he had lined up for us. He had us break into groups and transcribe Captain Lawrence’s logbook from his 1849–1853 whaling voyage, which took place in the same waters where we would later be sailing as crew of the Seamans. In addition to providing a service to the Falmouth Historical Society and historians more broadly, the transcription project showed us what can be learned from Artist-whaleman Robert Weir’s journal illustration of scooping out spermaceti on deck from a small sperm whale’s head (1857).



courtesy of sea education association | sea semester® |

fal mout h histo

ric al so cie ty

A sample entry from the Commodore Morris logbook, with whale flukes sketched on days that they saw whales.

SEA Semester students visit the Falmouth Historical Society not long after their arrival on campus in Woods Hole to take a look at the Commodore Morris logbook kept by Captain Lawrence between 1849 and 1853. examining ship logbooks from past eras, especially when we would be able to compare observations recorded in centuries-old documents to our own, once we got to sea. Decoding 19th-century script was slow going at first, and we’d all sit in the library chipping away at our assigned sections, frequently crowdsourcing opinions about what word a particular scribble could possibly be. As with most whaleship logbooks of the time, each entry listed the date, po-

painting by franklin lewis gifford, courtesy of the woods hole museum

Whaleship Commodore Morris

sition, weather, whale encounters, and sail configuration—splitting the day’s events into three parts. The more we acclimated to the daily repetition of logbook entries, the less we asked for second opinions on handwriting interpretations, more often exclaiming about some strange account or interesting detail about shipboard life. In this way, Lawrence’s logbook was notably unique; where most other logs of this era are devoid of more personal or event-based entries—relegating that commentary to a personal journal instead—Lawrence’s logbook was packed with fascinating accounts and informational asides. One section contains a report of attempted desertion by a rowdy crewmember; another includes a detailed description of how to safely enter the port of Valdivia. An otherwise typical entry for the day often contains a surprising line about several approaching canoes, or the play-by-play of an especially dramatic whale chase. Lawrence’s Logbook and Environmental History The Commodore Morris sailed from Woods Hole shortly before hydrographer Matthew Fontaine Maury’s compiled findings were widely available, and before naval officer


Charles Wilkes’s charts of the South Pacific came into prevalent use. Captain Lawrence used a chart of the South Pacific printed by J. W. Norie in 1825. Mystic Seaport Museum has Lawrence’s actual chart from this voyage in its collection, and we were able to corroborate notes in the logbook with his markings on the accompanying chart. For example, Lawrence wrote in the log that the position of a specific island on the chart seemed to be off, and we were able to see the exact mistakes to which he was referring on the very chart he used. Lawrence also recorded whale information on this chart, drawing flukes or circles where large numbers of whales were spotted or caught; these locations line up with those he writes of in his log. Two of the students in our group worked with oceanography professor Deb Goodwin to take Lawrence’s ambition of marking his whale observations on a chart to the next level by creating a GIS map of the voyage. These classmates persuaded the rest of us to go back into the transcription and find every whale sighting and capture in our respective sections of the log and record those data points in a master spreadsheet. They used this data to create a map of the Commodore Morris’s cruise track, replacing his circles and sketches of whale flukes with color-coded symbols. Our class finished the transcription in our final weeks in Woods Hole, and on we flew to Auckland, New Zealand, where we joined the crew of SSV Robert C. Seamans. During our voyage at sea, we marked the times and locations we sighted whales. We kept a large reproduction of the 1825 Norie chart in the doghouse, near our own chart, so we could compare them on a daily basis. We marveled at what Lawrence 25

mystic seaport museum

The 1825 Norie chart used by Captain Lawrence aboard the Commodore Morris. Inset shows the northeast tip of New Zealand and the Kermadec Islands as they appear on the chart. A sharp eye can make out the marks and tracklines drawn in by Lawrence. had referred to as “Sunday Island” in his log, now called Raoul Island, and later would recall Lawrence’s long and gossipy entry about the island’s scandalous settlers. We experienced our connection to his logbook and chart in flashes and favorite passages, but in retrospect, it is truly astonishing just how much of Captain Lawrence’s meticulously recorded history we were sailing through.

falmouth historical society

When and Where We Saw Whales Lawrence not only wrote about whale sightings and catches in his day-to-day entries, but made a separate section to compile the locations and details of the most important whale encounters, naming it “When we


saw Whales Where we Saw Whales Etc. Etc.” The section spans 22 pages in the log and is full of meticulous notes on whale encounters that were only briefly accounted for in daily log entries. By maintaining this separate abstract of whale data, Lawrence was not only concerned with the success of this specific voyage but with his whaling career in the long term. He did the work of compiling and recounting as it happened, rather than long after the fact. He was clearly determined to make his own data and experiences useful to himself in the future, and perhaps to his brothers as well. While many captains at the time collated information from logs for future use, according to whaling historian Michael

Dyer, such collations were often given to masters by whaleship owners for reference on their voyage, so it is striking to read Lawrence’s fresh recounting of whale encounters in his logbook, which would likely later be included in some such larger collation. Commodore Morris’s crew encountered significantly more whales during their mid19th-century voyage than we did in 2018. In the waters northeast of New Zealand’s North Island, they spotted more than thirty whales, most of them sperm whales— successfully catching thirteen of them. During our voyage, we saw different species of whales in these waters, and in only three distinct sightings: a single humpback whale off the coast of East Cape, the thin spout of a rorqual near Great Barrier Island’s Port Fitzroy, and a small pod of pilot whales in the Hauraki Gulf. During the six weeks we were at sea in these waters, we saw not a single sperm whale. We took into account that our voyage was taking place from midNovember to late December, and thus we were unlikely to encounter any baleen whales, based on their migration patterns. Sperm whales were also unlikely to make Log entry from “When & Where we see whales” on 15 March 1851. SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20

an appearance, because females and juveniles tend to prefer warmer equatorial waters, leaving only solitary males for possible sightings. Young male sperm whales traveling in small groups can be found year-round off Kaikōura, New Zealand, but we were too far north to expect to see them along our cruise track. That said, the Commodore Morris was also sailing in these same waters during November and December, albeit over 167 years ago. They did encounter sperm whales, but mostly farther north than where we were. Whaleships like the Commodore Morris also spent an enormous amount of time essentially loitering in areas known to have whales, making very little noise compared to modern ships, which are equipped with all sorts of noisy machines like engines, generators, and science equipment that may deter marine mammals.

GIS map depicting the Commodore Morris’s cruise track and whale interactions throughout their entire voyage. Credit: Deb Goodwin, Jenn Crandall, and Olivia Vasquez. Our voyage was not chiefly concerned with whale sightings, no matter how enthusiastic we all were about the prospect; our aims in the six weeks we had at sea were to keep our cruise on schedule and to perform daily scientific deployments to gauge zooplankton diversity, phytoplankton productivity, the presence of microplastics offshore, and water temperatures, currents, and other oceanographic characteristics. The Commodore Morris undoubtedly saw many more whales simply because of their single priority, though their success also likely had more than a little to do with the abundance of whales in that era compared to the populations today. Global whale populations have been depleted by centuries of commercial whale hunting and human misuse of the ocean as a whole, through such anthropogenic impacts as overfishing, oil spills, plastics pollution, and the many disastrous effects of climate change. The commercial whaling industry’s impact on whale populations only became more dire as whaling technology advanced GIS map showing Commodore Morris’s cruise track and whale interactions in New Zealand waters, as well as our voyage’s track. “Other Whales” entries include killer whales, humpbacks, rorquals (“finbacks” and “sulphur bottoms”), and other whales too far way for them to identify.. Credit: Deb Goodwin, Jenn Crandall, and Olivia Vasquez.



Today, more and more logbooks are being scanned and made available online, and some are even being transcribed, like this one, which is now available online at the Falmouth Historical Society website. Logbooks are being used not only in research like ours, but for such broad undertakings as the Old Weather Project, which uses volunteer transcriptions of logbooks to create a database of weather baselines across the globe. Logbooks are also part of a project conducted by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientist Caroline Ummenhofer and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth historian Timothy Walker, using whalemen’s weather accounts to fill in historical climate data for areas that are largely understudied, the Indian Ocean for example, where climate change modeling can more accurately

courtesy of sea education association | sea semester® |

in the 20th century, as wood and sails gave way to steel and engines, and traditional hand-thrown harpoons were replaced with explosive rocket harpoons. Yet even in the era of traditional Yankee whaling, whale populations suffered heavily at the hands of whalemen. For example, offshore whaling voyages decimated the southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) population off the coast of New Zealand by an estimated 90 percent between 1830 and 1850. This is no doubt why the Commodore Morris’s crew did not report a single right whale during its time in New Zealand waters. Indeed, this pattern of regional depletion is why the Commodore Morris needed to travel so far from New England for more than three years, looking not for the everdiminishing right whale, but for the highly prized sperm whale.

The author, Mia Sigler, at the helm of the SSV Robert C. Seamans in fall of 2018. Logbooks as Archival History As we discovered, ship logs as a genre tend to make pretty dry reading. They are meant to be an account of essential daily information, detailing wind direction and strength, precipitation, sail configuration and maneuvers, whale encounters, and passing mention of other ships sighted. On our modern-day voyage, we recorded much of this same information hourly in the Robert C. Seamans logbook. It turns out, logbooks offer a wealth of information and can be veritable data mines—something Matthew Fontaine Maury knew well even in the 1850s. 28

reflect changes. Additionally, a mapping project similar in purpose to our own is underway at, which uses a combination of data from the American Offshore Whaling Logbook (AOWL) database to generate maps for specific whaleship voyages. If our class had not been exposed to this logbook, we would never have stumbled upon Captain Lawrence’s heated diatribe about ship speeds, or the lack thereof, in which he began the day’s entry by exclaiming, “By Jingo how wish I had a clipper under my feet to day we would have walked up to them fellows and stood a good chance

to have got 3 whales.” His recurring detailed accounts of discipline aboard the ship would remain unscrutinized, no one to know how the ever-disrespectful boat steerer Willet wildly accused Lawrence of poisoning him, even as he was being tied into the rigging for his insolence. When writing in our personal journals during Sea Semester, it was strange to consider that someday students might be assigned the daunting task of transcribing one of our journals, or perhaps our ship’s logbook, though that might prove an even drier task than transcribing a whaling logbook. Our time aboard the Robert C. Seamans was our first major voyage at sea. Similarly, Captain Lawrence’s voyage on the Commodore Morris was his first trip as a captain. Perhaps that’s what had him writing so prolifically and recording so many things outside of the standard logbook entry. It is strange to think about what could be done with our conscientiously maintained journals one day, about what would strike the researchers of tomorrow as odd about life aboard the Robert C. Seamans, and what would still ring true to the seafarers of the future. They might find our uninhibited enthusiasm for sighting whales as strange as we found the cold professional relentlessness of attitudes among the whalers aboard the Commodore Morris. With all the changes facing our world’s oceans and its inhabitants, how will people feel when they see whales 167 years from now? Mia Sigler is a senior at Mount Holyoke College and an alumna of SEA Semester voyage S-283. This article was made possible by the efforts and contributions of Richard King, maritime studies professor at Sea Education Association; Deb Goodwin, oceanography professor and primary designer of the GIS map; Kerry Whittaker, oceanography professor and chief scientist during the voyage; Jenn Crandall and Olivia Vasquez, S-283 students who compiled the data for the GIS map; and the rest of the S-283 students who transcribed Captain Lawrence’s logbook, with final editing by Kathryn Spencer and Mia Sigler. (The logbook and chart are online at, respectively, and norie_chart_south_pacific/. Sea Education Association: SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20



by Joel Stone

images from the dossin great lakes museum collection, detroit historical society

century ago, the North American passenger steamship industry was collapsing. The long progression of vessels, which had facilitated continental expansion and defined maritime elegance, was reaching its end. Most historians have blamed the automobile for what seems like a clear correlation—as automobiles caught on in the 1920s and 1930s, passenger boats went out of business. This is a false narrative. While a few passenger lines lasted into the 1950s, the industry was already doomed by 1920, before cars had shifted from a rich man’s toy to an everyday tool of the middle class. A fundamental change in the steamer business model, driven by progressive legislation and successful union activity, proved far more disruptive than automobiles in the crucial period between 1910 and 1920. Full disclosure: I hail from Detroit, and as I study the maritime passenger business a recurring excuse for the industry’s demise is the automobile. It is cited in nearly every publication about steamers, and respected historians like George Hilton and Alexander Crosby Brown, reflecting on the era, support this interpretation. As a guy from Detroit, I took it as a challenge to temper it, this old saw. Because of its geography, Detroit’s history with passenger steamboats—ferries,

Detroit Passenger Docks, c.1890. Tashmoo’s regular run was north up the St. Clair River, Owana ran south to Lake Erie, and Eastern States operated on routes to Cleveland and Buffalo. excursion boats, packets, and palace steamers—is cumulatively deeper than anywhere else on the Great Lakes, and the city is firmly planted in the top echelon of major North American ports. To prove that Detroit’s automobiles did not destroy the steamer industry, what better place to focus than on a Detroit industry powerhouse. It is fortunate that records for what Hilton called “the greatest of the night lines” are available to survey. With roots pre-dating the American Civil War, the

Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company, commonly called the D & C Line, was the healthiest carrier in the Great Lakes packet trade in 1910—about the time that cars became a viable industry. Significant elements of D & C history are preserved in the papers of James McMillan, a United States senator and a principle D & C owner. These records are held at the Detroit Public Library’s Burton Historical Collection, which also has other D & Crelated holdings. Of particular interest within the McMillan collection is the correspondence of Augustus A. “Gus” Schantz, a lifelong company employee and general manager of the D & C from 1902 to 1930— the period in question. McMillan was an inveterate micromanager, and his daily letters and corporate documents provide a detailed diagram of the developments, opinions, and actions within the firm. As McMillan himself and the company he ran were leaders in the national industry, this collection provides an invaluable portal into the era. Launch Day Portrait, 1924. This image, taken at the launch of the Greater Detroit, shows D & C general manager Augustus Schantz (second from right) alongside McMillan family sponsors (left) and renowned naval architect Frank Kirby (center).



So, did the automobile have a significant impact on steamers in the early 20th century? Perhaps, but less than chroniclers writing later in the century have assumed. According to the National Highway Administration, a half million cars were driving on US roads in 1910, eight million in 1920, and 23 million a decade later. Most were made in southeast Michigan. Despite the spike in cars on the roads, infrastructure for autos lagged. Of the three million miles of American roadways crisscrossing the country in 1920, only 3,600 miles were considered “motor vehicle friendly,” assumed to mean reliable for traffic moving at 25 miles per hour or so. In ten years, the number of car-friendly roads increased to 10,000 miles. Spread over the 26 states east of the Mississippi, this comes out to only about 300 miles per state in 1930—arguably not significant as the Depression took hold. Steamboat companies faced a marketing issue during this time: automobiles were new and exciting, and steamboats—while reliable—were becoming a thing of the past. After Ford Motor Company started distributing Model Ts in 1908, automobile camping became a fad—even Henry Ford did it with his buddies Harvey Firestone and Tom Edison (they often took a steamship to get closer to their campsite). Trucks

Brochure Cover, 1885. This Detroit & Cleveland Steam Navigation Company advertisement touted the company’s tours to Mackinac Island. Their Niagara Falls route was well established. Early Camping Trailer, c.1930. The Covered Wagon Co. of Mt. Clemens, Michigan, founded in 1929, was one of the first successful volume manufacturers of recreational vehicles, producing about 12,000 units a year in 1935. were developed soon after autos and initially transported freight from the dock to its final destination, a boon for the breakbulk business. Detroit was home to both Grabowski Power Wagon and Fruehauf Trailer companies, early innovators in SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20

trucking. As roads improved, trucks gradually absorbed the freight transfer and storage business that marine interests had long relied on. In turn, D & C boats quickly adapted by ferrying personal cars, and later commercial auto transfers, on their trips between Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. To establish the health of the passenger steamer industry, let’s take a look at some facts for perspective. After McMillan took over the D & C in the 1870s, the com-

pany paid dividends to its investors like clockwork, even in times of economic slowdowns, including the Panic of 1893. During the 1890s, a number of Detroit-based companies were sold or went out of business. Yet, starting in 1899 the shipbuilding industry leapt into an optimistic building cycle. Designer Frank Kirby’s sleek Tashmoo of 1899 was the first, and then Canadian and American firms built 33 significant passenger vessels over the next sixteen years, and many smaller 31

Aerial photograph of City of Cleveland III, c.1929. This teardrop profile, which maximized deck space, typified Frank E. Kirby’s profitable design aesthetic regarding sidewheelers. ones as well. This period created some of the Great Lakes’ most iconic profiles— notably the City of Cleveland III, Rapids King , City of Detroit III, Seeandbee, North

American, and South American. Then in 1915 shipbuilding came to a halt, save for two more giants built for D & C almost a decade later.

Arguably, building an average of two sizable passenger vessels per year over a sixteen-year period suggests a healthy fleet and optimism within the industry. Its sudden end in 1915 is significant. A series of legislative initiatives, mostly aimed at oceangoing trade, were generated during this decade from Washington, DC. While generally well intentioned, the consequences proved critical. Ratification of the 1912 Panama Canal Act, which went into effect in 1915, prohibited railroad ownership of ships with which they would be competing for business. On the Great Lakes, the Jim Hill-owned Northern Steamship Company and the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Anchor Line suffered immediate setbacks. William Leonard Taylor, writing about the East Coast’s reliable Fall River Line, said, “The year 1916…marked the high tide of prosperity for the railroadcontrolled lines.” The bigger legislative hurdle was what is generally referred to as the La Follette Seaman’s Act of 1915. Many common-sense safety matters were addressed regarding the livelihood of ship crews and passengers. Onerous to the owners, particularly Great

SS Greater Detroit, c. 1925.



detroit photographic company, library of congress

Lakes carriers, were two codicils. The first reduced onboard shifts from twelve hours per day to eight, and the second increased mandatory staffing levels requiring Able Bodied seamen, instead of cheaper Ordinary Seamen. Together, these provisions instantly increased payrolls by more than 50 percent—at least on paper. Legislation championed by Rep. Joshua Alexander (D-MO) in 1916 defined the role of the US merchant marine and created the US Shipping Board. The first put America’s commercial fleet on a quasi-military footing. The second became a bane of the fleet owners. As Gus Schantz proclaimed in a 1917 letter to the American Steamship Association, “If you leave matters to be arbitrated by the Shipping Board, you will lose out, as everything in Washington seems to be in favor of organized labor.” One last legislative move of note came in 1920 with passage of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, a.k.a. the Jones Act. At the time it had only a modest effect on Great Lakes passenger lines, occasionally affecting ports of call and reducing flexibility with regard to labor. And really…labor was the biggest issue. By the end of the century, it was generally understood that American sailors were treated badly. In 1897, the US Supreme Court reasserted that the “provisions of the Thirteenth Amendment [outlawing slavery] and subsequent legislation

Lake Seamen’s Union Strike Flier, 1917. Labor shortages and pressure from various unions resulted in higher wages, and changed a longstanding business model. barring involuntary servitude did not apply to the seafarer.” Great Lakes sailors were bound by the same dictates, but enjoyed a history and situation far different than the ocean trade. During this time, they saw a significant increase in wages and political leverage due almost entirely to union activism. There have been fraternal organizations on the Lakes for professional mariners since the 1830s. Ordinary sailors had little leverage or organizational focus until Detroit’s industrial wealth—and its reliance on labor for that wealth—changed the equation. A seamen’s union on the Great Lakes, in the 1880s, finally enjoyed success in the new century.

All non-automotive Detroit manufacturers struggled for employees after 1910, admittedly because of the competition from auto manufactories. Ford’s Rouge Plant, Dodge Main, Packard and a dozen other major factories paid much better. While a local problem, the longshoremen and sailors’ unions leveraged it for their members. An industry-wide strike in 1901, aimed primarily at the Lake Carriers Association and the Pittsburgh Steamship Company conglomerate, hamstrung Gus Schantz. The short passenger-carrying season forced him to acquiesce almost immediately, and quietly distance the firm from the Lake Carriers. Through 1912, while unions were pressuring for wages and recognition, passenger operators followed an unwritten agreement to pay union wages while refusing to relinquish the right to hire and fire. The D & C retained union men, but didn’t hesitate to hire non-union workers to ensure prompt departures. Gus Schantz proved a hard bargainer, and maintained regular correspondence with executives of the other passenger lines regarding wage negotiations and unions. He also became increasingly suspicious of his staff, and over the next decade manned his ships and docks with undercover private investigators, and maintained a list of suspected activists. Interior view of SS City of Cleveland III, 1908. This ship, SS Greater Detroit and Greater Buffalo were the last Great Lakes palace steamers and were paid for in cash— $6.8 million—in 1924.



In 1916 striking dockhands in Buffalo demanded a raise from 30¢ to 35¢ per hour, up from 25¢ in 1913. Buffalo railroads and bulk carriers were already paying 40¢ and skimming the best workers. Schantz resisted, but by 21 June was paying as demanded—the season was too short.

boats than we are earning.” By mid-October the D&C suspended operations, cutting the season short by at least three weeks. Ironically, by 1918 D & C freight tonnage on the lower lakes was up, primarily because it started shipping new automobiles to dealerships in Ohio and New York. The

Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company Stock Certificate, 1942. By 1917, with accelerated war production and a labor pool drained by the military, Schantz commented, “We are having trouble at the present time to find sufficient competent men.” Buffalo longshoremen promptly demanded a raise, from 40¢ to 42 1/2¢ per hour, and after a brief strike, the D & C capitulated at 42¢. In Cleveland and Detroit, longshoremen staged similar action with mixed results. Workers attempted to keep the Western States from sailing on 17 July, and held a disruptive parade along the waterfront on 19 July. Things quickly deteriorated, and Schantz threatened union leader Victor Olander, “[W]e will be compelled to protect ourselves.” There were numerous other points of friction concerning manning requirements: restricted work hours, the “discharge books,” and “end-of-season hazard” pay raises—50 percent raises pushed by the union and mandated as a wartime measure by the US Shipping Board. Following this particular seamen’s victory, and perhaps in protest, Schantz sent his boats to winter lay-up early. “Owing to the increased costs of operation…due to advances in wages of seamen and firemen by the US Shipping Board, it is costing us more to operate the 34

automobile companies had now become clients. Also notable: the Huron Division, which had closed in 1921, reopened in 1925 dedicated to carrying tourists from Detroit to Mackinac Island and Chicago—no freight, no longshoremen. By 1934, despite the business from the car companies, this was the only division paying for itself. Arguably, routes easily replaced by a not-toolong car ride—from Cleveland to Detroit, or Chicago to Milwaukee for example— were probably already feeling the pinch. What remains is to link legislation and labor actions between 1910 and 1920 with the decline in business that took place before the Great Depression at the D & C Navigation Company. In 1916 D & C boasted one of the lowest expense-to-revenue ratios in the company’s history, at 59 percent. The following year this figure rose to 68 percent, and a year later to 73 percent. Conversely, their profit-to-revenue ratio fell from 41 percent in 1916 to 27 percent in 1918. Wages in 1912–1913 appear to have absorbed about ten percent of the gross income. The average gross between 1921 and 1929 rose to thirteen percent, and in the worst years of the Depression—despite a 25 percent reduction in wages—29 percent of gross went strictly to the crews.

These figures do not account for the periods when the three-watch system was in effect, automatically adding 50 percent to wage costs plus the number of employees to be fed and housed. Judging the effect is complicated by the fact that compliance and enforcement fluctuated during the late teens and early 1920s. Also, these figures do not account for wages that had to be paid year-round to comply with AB seaman certification requirements, or to keep essential personnel out of the wartime draft rolls. The D & C was further hampered by having to raise ticket prices to cover operating costs. A standard round-trip ticket from Detroit to Cleveland or Buffalo almost doubled in the nine years between 1913 and 1922. Perhaps coincidently, 1926 marked the first year that both the D & C and Goodrich Transit, the other major Great Lakes passenger carrier, lost money. Most importantly, of the seventeen companies operating Great Lakes passenger packet ships in 1910, eight were gone by 1927—before the Depression—and another four by 1933—victims of the Depression. The five that survived did so in a greatly diminished capacity. Did the automobile kill the steamer business? Sure—in its final chapter following World War II, taking survivors like the D & C, Old Bay, and a few others. But analysis of D & C records suggests that even the healthiest company in the industry was severely hobbled before the automobile became a serious competitor. While safety deserved government support, and seamen deserved a competitive wage, David Montgomery, in the “Age of Unionism,” described labor activity between 1902 and 1922 as “not episodic, but continual.” Arguably, at a time when the fundamental nature of the passenger steamship business was changing, this ongoing battle proved a crippling distraction. Joel Stone is senior curator for the Detroit Historical Society, which oversees the Detroit Historical Museum and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum. His writing focuses on North American frontier and transportation cultures. He is currently president of the Association for Great Lakes Maritime History. (; SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20


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Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle Peabody Essex Museum Reunites the Celebrated Painting Series by Whitney Van Dyke, Peabody Essex Museum panel images © the jacob & gwendolyn night lawrence fdn., seattle/artists rights society (ars), ny

“What is the cost of democracy for all?” This is the central question artist Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000) tackles in his series of paintings featured in a new exhibition debuting in January at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts, and touring nationally through 2021. The series, Struggle: From the History of the American People (1954–56), was created during the civil rights movement by one of the best-known black American artists of the 20th century. The series of thirty panels depicts pivotal moments in early American history, with an emphasis on the contributions that black people, Native Americans, and women made in shaping our nation’s founding and identity. Reunited for the first time in more than sixty years, the Struggle series brings American history to life through energetic, expressive paintings that hug the boundary between figuration and abstraction. For this reunion, 25 of the Struggle paintings are accounted for, while the locations of five remain unknown. Reproductions of the missing paintings, as well as of those too fragile to travel, are presented alongside the available originals. The paintings reflect Lawrence’s desire to “express the universal beauty of man’s continuous struggle” and his visual style conveys the physical, emotional, and ideological struggles inherent to the country’s founding.

© robert w. kelley/the life picture collection/getty images

“Thousands of American citizens have been torn from their country and from everything dear to them: they have been dragged on board ships of war of a foreign nation.” —Madison, 1 June 1812. Panel 19: Egg tempera on hardboard, 16 x 12 inches. (Collection of Harvey and Harvey-Ann Ross) Lawrence saw American history as a complex shared experience, and his paintings sought to create a broader, more encompassing narrative that celebrated prominent historical figures alongside those unsung and underrepresented. This new exhibition, Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle, presents Lawrence’s paintings in dialogue with contemporary black artists Derrick Adams, Bethany Collins, and Hank Willis Thomas— all artists whose work powerfully asserts that America’s struggles for democracy, justice, truth, and inclusion continue in earnest today. Lawrence broke through the color line of New York’s segregated art world when, at the age of 23, he created The Migration Series, a historical narrative that was instantly recognized as a masterpiece and became the first work by a black artist to be acquired by the Museum of Modern Art. Lawrence’s artistic training was fostered by the luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance: Augusta Savage, Charles Alston, and Henry Bannarn. Too young to enroll in the Federal Arts Project, Lawrence took to his immediate environment for inspiration: he painted what he saw in his community. But this wasn’t enough. Young Lawrence began to research the history of his community and his family, finding great inspiration in the stories of leaders like Toussaint Overture, Harriet Tubman and John Brown. The Artist Jacob Lawrence. On the wall behind him story of how black communities migrated to Harlem, Chicago, Seattle, and other are Panels 26 and 27 from Struggle: From the cities across America, was his family’s story and served as inspiration for Migration. History of the American People, 1954–56. Struggle By mid-century, Lawrence had perfected his narrative invention of using modestly scaled panels to tell a sweeping epic. In 1949 the national political climate was fraught, freedoms were under threat, and the civil rights movement was gaining momentum. In this context, Lawrence began his research for Struggle: From the History of the American People, a narrative that sought to visualize a more complete—and more complex—version of American history. His goal was to “depict the struggles of a people to create a nation and their attempt to build a democracy.” Lawrence spent countless hours at the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library in Harlem (now the Schomburg Center for Black Research and Culture) poring over historical texts that included first-person accounts, letters, and coded messages from individuals on all sides of the American Revolution. For more than five years, he read and researched, 36


and then, in May 1954, just as the Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of American schools, he began to paint. Lawrence’s often lengthy captions that accompany the panels in the Struggle series feature excerpts from famous speeches as well as reports, letters, and petitions from anonymous soldiers and enslaved people. The Struggle Continues The struggle for democracy is as relevant today as it was during Lawrence’s life. Artists Derrick Adams, Bethany Collins, and Hank Willis Thomas add their contemporary perspectives to the exhibition through the presentation of recent works. Derrick Adams’s video, Saints “We crossed the River at McKonkey’s Ferry 9 miles above Trenton...the night was excessively severe... March (2017), pays homage to past which the men bore without the least murmur...” —Tench Tilghman, 27 December 1776. and present cultural influencers of Panel 10: Egg tempera on hardboard, 11 13 /16 x 15 15 /16 inches. (Metropolitan Museum of Art) New Orleans, capturing the footwork of local dancers who use Decatur Street as their stage. As Lawrence did in the Struggle series, Adams plays with vantage points, zooming in and out to transport us to see the past, present, and future anew through the motions of others. For his mixed media installation, Jacob’s Ladder (2019), Adams imagines Lawrence’s studio as a quiet self-reflection space, using materials such as the artist’s photographs and armchair. Referencing the biblical story, a ladder ascends directly from the chair to Adams’s original portrait of the elder artist. This homage to the transportive power of Lawrence represents, to Adams, “the continuous progression of Lawrence’s life journey and the most magnificent manner in which he expressed his ideas and vision.” Between the 18th and 20th centuries, American songwriters rewrote the lyrics to the melody of “America” (My Country ‘Tis of Thee) in support of causes including revolution, temperance, suffrage, abolition, Native sovereignty, and slavery. Bethany Collins’s America: A Hymnal (2017) is a laser-cut special-edition artist book unifying 100 versions of the song to show how words and meanings change over time. As the pages of this book are turned, the work is gradually destroyed. An a cappella recording of the hymns accompanies this installation. Hank Willis Thomas excerpts images from history and reproduces them in new ways. By combining historical research with technological processes, he pushes the boundaries of photography. Visitors can shine a flashlight on Turbulence (2018) and My Father Died for this Country Too / I Am an American (2017), to illuminate images “hidden” beneath the surface, such as a protester resisting arrest in Alabama and a demonstration at a “whites-only” beach in Florida. For Rich Black Specimen #460 (2017), Thomas used archival “runaway slave” advertisements to create a dynamic, larger-than-life three-dimensional version that injects personhood into the otherwise cruelly anonymous form. Peabody Essex Museum, East India Square, 161 Essex St., Salem, MA; National Tour •Peabody Essex Museum: 18 January–26 April 2020 •The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 2 June–7 September 2020 •Birmingham Museum of Art: 17 October 2020–10 January 2021 •Seattle Art Museum: 25 February–31 May 2021 •The Phillips Collection: 26 June–19 September 2021 “If we fail, let us fail like men, and expire together in one common struggle...” — Henry Clay, 1813. Panel 23: Egg tempera on hardboard, 16 x 12 inches. (Collection of Dr. Kenneth Clark) SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20


Marine Art News

The American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA) is holding its 3rd National Marine Art Conference in Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia, this spring. It’s an event you won’t want to miss. A highlight of the gathering will be the opening reception for ASMA’s 18th National Exhibition at Jamestown Settlement Museum, the first of five museums the exhibition will visit over 18 months. Painting demonstrations and presentations about research and creative processes by many of today’s top marine artists attract both emerging and established artists, and art collectors and enthusiasts. Among the ASMA artists presenting: Del-Bourree Bach, Christopher Blossom, Michael Karas, William R. Davis, Patrick O’Brien, Morgan Samuel Price, Mark Shasha, Award-winning marine painter Patrick O’Brien, who Nancy Tankersley, and Len Tantillo. Sarah Cash will be the keynote speaker. created the cover image for this issue of Sea History, Ms. Cash is associate curator of American and British paintings at the Na- will present at the National Marine Art Conference. tional Gallery of Art in Washington, as well as the co-author, with Richard Ormond, of Sargent and the Sea. National Maritime Historical Society members will want to join the group for the Captain’s Dinner on Saturday, 7 March, when ASMA will present its Lifetime Achievement Award to NMHS president, Burchenal Green.

courtesy of the artist

The 3rd National Marine Art Conference — 5–8 March 2020

The Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I is one of the most iconic portraits in British history. Three versions of the painting survive, each offering a subtly different depiction of Queen Elizabeth I at the height of her power. Now, for the first time in their 430-year history, these three works are going on public display together in 2020 at the Queen’s House in London. The Armada Portraits were painted to commemorate the most famous conflict in Elizabeth I’s reign—the failed attempt by the Spanish Armada to invade England in 1588. Royal Museums Greenwich will showcase its own version of the Armada Portrait (far left) alongside the two other works: one from the National Portrait Gallery, the other from the private art collection at Woburn Abbey (left). All three versions are believed to have been made shortly after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, each by different artists or studios. While the three paintings share the same essential pattern, each work contains subtle differences that hint at their unique histories. The Armada Portraits The Woburn Abbey portrait (right) are on display 13 February–31 August 2020, at remains the only version of the three the Queen’s House, Royal Museums Greenwich, portraits that maintains the complete Romney Road, Greenwich, London. (www.rmg. seascapes as they were painted in the 16th century. The painting is owned by the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, and has been in the family for centuries.

National Call to Artists

Marginal Way, Ogunquit, Maine

photo by ben hershenson, mwpf vp 2017

courtesy royal museums greenwich

The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I, 1588—Together For the First Time

The Ogunquit Museum of American Art is hosting a fine art competition of juried artwork on 28 June 2020, to benefit the Marginal Way Preservation Fund. The town of Ogunquit, Maine, has long been known as an artist’s haven with its long, sandy beach, rocky coast and scenic fishing village at Perkins Cove. Painter Charles Woodbury established a summer art school there in 1898; other artists soon followed, such as Edward Hopper, Hamilton Easter Field, and Beverly Hallam. The famous Marginal Way, a 1¼-mile scenic walkway along the ocean, is a sought-out location for plein air painters. The walkway was bequeathed to the town in 1925, but access to it has been compromised in recent years from storm erosion that threatens the integrity of the path. In 2009, an endowment fund, the Marginal Way Preservation Fund (MWPF) was established to help preserve and maintain the walkway. Last year, the MWPF donated more than $50,000 to the town to help repair damage from an early spring Nor’easter. Dollars raised through the juried fine art competition will help the MWPF with its mission of supporting efforts to preserve this seaside vista for years to come. Jurors: Don Demers, Michael Mansfield, Gail Spaien, and Chris Caraviello. Artists are invited to submit any of the following media: painting, photography, drawing, mixed media, and print that has been inspired by “A Love for the Ocean” and created within the last three years. Deadline: 15 May 2020. For more information, contact or, or Ph. 207 641-2200. 38




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A USS Constitution Yarn: Untangled by William H. White

Here’s the story:

The following is an account of Constitution’s famous war cruise during her maiden voyage. In July 1798, USS Constitution set sail from Boston with 475 officers and men and the following supplies: 48,600 gallons of fresh water 7,400 cannon shot

11,600 pounds of black powder and… 79,400 gallons of rum.

Her mission: “To destroy and harass English shipping.” 826 pounds of flour and…

us navy collection

Making Jamaica on 6 October, she took on— 68,300 gallons of rum.

She then headed for the Azores, where she took on— 550 tons of beef and…

64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine. On 18 November she set sail for England. In the ensuing days, she defeated 5 British men of war and sank 12 British merchant ships, salvaging only their rum. By 26 January, her powder and shot were exhausted. Nonetheless, she made a raid on the Firth of Clyde. Her landing party captured a whiskey distillery and transferred 40,000 gallons of single malt Scotch aboard. She then headed home. Constitution made port at Boston harbor on the 20th of February 1799 with no cannon shot, no powder, no food, no rum, no whiskey, and no wine—but with 48,000 gallons of water!



his old chestnut has been floating around in cyberspace for any number of years. It seems to be a perennial favorite of many Navy fans, who over the years have perpetuated the story, apparently in an effort to drum up support for a service and a ship, neither of which requires any additional support. A version was even told as “a true story” by then-Secretary of the Navy John Dalton at a reception hosted by the Boston Yacht Club on 20 July 1997. As a historian with a particular interest in USS Constitution history and as a Life Trustee of the USS Constitution Museum, I tend to be on the receiving end of this oft-repeated yarn. I think I receive it in my email at least twice a quarter. I used to respond with a lengthy email sent to “reply all” in an effort to dispel this fake news and set people on a straight historical course. All to no avail; it just keeps turning up. So, in an effort to once and for all lay this purported history to rest, I have taken up pen and paper (computer and keyboard?) to, hopefully, fix this tale in the solid fiction category. Let us take the statements one at a time as they appear in the typical version passed through email.

have carried anywhere near 48,000 gallons of water, nor would she have had to. It was common practice for a ship to stop from time to time to “make their water,” which entailed filling casks from shoreside streams (remember the water was cleaner then and the water from most streams was potable).

First: The ship, United States Frigate Constitution (the prefix “USS” was not in use until 1907), was indeed a combat vessel. She had a normal crew of approximately 450 men, officers, and midshipmen, but for her maiden voyage, during which this supposed version takes place, she was nowhere near her full complement. In fact, the orders Constitution’s first commander, Captain Samuel Nicholson, received instructed him to enlist 150 Able Seamen, 103 midshipmen and Ordinary Seamen (obviously, the preponderance of that number would be seamen; typically only eight to a dozen midshipmen were on any ship). Further, she could not possibly

Fourth: “Her mission: ‘to destroy and harass English shipping.’” No! No! No! The United States was not at war with Great Britain in 1798 (American Revolution hostilities ended in 1783 and the War of 1812 did not begin until … 1812) and an American warship “harass[ing] and destroy[ing] English shipping” would have been instantly labeled a pirate, opening the crew and officers to capture by any nation and a quick trial followed closely by hanging. Constitution’s orders were, in fact, the same as those issued by President Adams to all ships of the US Navy, namely “…to seize, take, and bring into any Port of the United States … any Armed


Second: After many delays finding crew, supplies, cannon, powder, and shot, the ship sailed to King’s Roads (now President’s Roads) off Castle Island at the entrance to Boston Harbor on 2 July (1798) to finish loading cannon and shot from the fort on the island. She was finally ready for sea on 22 July and sailed. Third: The story as forwarded in emails states she carried 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 pounds of black powder, and 79,400 gallons of rum. In fact, the load out included “200 cutlasses, 100 pairs of pistols, 100 boarding axes, 2,957 24-pounder double headed and chain shot, 60 muskets, 3,000 flannel cartridges [for the 24-pounders], and 1,792 pounds of musket and pistol balls, 1,755 gallons of brandy, 2,143 gallons of rum.” Additionally, some thirty 24-pounder cannon were brought aboard.


Vessels sailing under Authority … from France” off our coasts “attacking or waiting to attack, our merchantmen.” Further, those American ships already captured by the French were to be recaptured when encountered.” Note: France, not England. Fifth: “Making Jamaica…” Okay—now think about that. In 1798 Jamaica was through and through British. Why would (assuming the previous false directive to “destroy English shipping” was real) a ship go into the enemy’s port for provisions? Obviously, given the total fictitious nature of the first part, it is safe to assume she did not take on flour and certainly not 68,300 gallons of rum! In fact, Constitution sailed first to Newport, Rhode Island, (arriving 20 August) for additional provisions and water and to receive additional orders. Her new orders took her to Cape Henry, Virginia, from whence she would “cruise the waters to our Southern Extremity” in company with two cutters from the US Revenue-Marine. The ship arrived off Cape Henry on 31 August. Sixth: On 4 October, US Navy records show the ship was in Norfolk awaiting a breeze to return to her cruising station, not two days out of Jamaica, as the oft-quoted tale might have you believe. Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Stoddert had ordered Captain Nicholson to “proceed instantly to sea,” patrol her assigned station, and return to Boston “about the 20th of November.” On 21 October, the ship anchored off Charleston, where she received provisions and casks of water, putting an end to several days of short rations for the crew. At noon on 10 November, Constitution anchored in Nantasket Roads, east of Boston. Note the absence of a trip to the Azores and, with it, no Portuguese wine. Constitution’s first cruise was complete, having lasted 111 days—none of which were particularly noteworthy. After repairs, her second cruise began on 29 December. Seventh: As the ship was in Boston undergoing repairs on 18 November, she obviously was not sailing to England, not defeating five British men-of-war, and not scuttling twelve British merchants, and not salvaging their rum in the process. Eighth: Constitution crossed the equator heading to her station in the Leeward Islands on 9 January, practiced firing the great guns on the 10th, 11th, and 14th, after which the guns were “loaded for service.” She had plenty of powder and shot on board, and, clearly, the ship was not about to sail up the Firth of Clyde in Scotland to capture a whiskey distillery. And no, her crew did not transfer 40,000 gallons of single malt Scotch aboard! As a note of historical interest, during the American Revolution John Paul Jones did sail his ship Ranger into Whitehaven, England, attack a fort and leave. He followed this with an attack in Scotland, in Kirkcudbright Bay, where he intended to kidnap the Earl of Selkirk. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), the Earl was not at home, so Jones and his crew stole all his silver, including Lady Selkirk’s teapot, still warm with her breakfast tea! But no distilleries for him either. Ninth: On 21 February, the ship was in Prince Rupert’s Bay in Guadeloupe taking on water. It is interesting to note that her log indicates she took on “40 butts, 70 gang casks, and 4 leaguers,” amounting to approximately 16,000 gallons (about 66 tons) of SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20

water in just over eight hours! She continued to sail through the French-occupied islands of the Caribbean, hoping for French (not English!) prizes. She was in company often with the US frigates United States and George Washington. Captain Nicholson and Constitution successfully took two French ships as prizes during this cruise, one following a 32-hour chase. Tenth: Constitution returned to Boston with ample provisions, powder, shot, and water (spirits were not mentioned, but one must assume there was plenty aboard) on 14 May 1799. Assuming you have reached this point in the history, you, dear reader, are now in a position to dispel the tall tale still circulating in cyberspace and beyond. As a matter of interest, the American Ship of State, (now USS) Constitution, had her most famous battles during the War of 1812, fighting and defeating HMS Guerriere, HMS Java, HMS Pictou, and one of her more significant battles, simultaneously against two British warships, Levant and Cyane. Both were captured (actually after the war’s end), but only Cyane was brought into port, the British having recaptured the other. She also saw action in the Barbary Wars (1804–05). There is much more information—truthful information—available in books and on the internet, and, of course, the Lady herself is berthed at the historic Boston Navy Yard in Charlestown. She is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world, and still gets underway several times a year to take visitors, guests, and US Navy personnel out into Boston Harbor. Go see her—and the USS Constitution Museum, also right there in the Navy Yard. The visit will be well worth your time! Now, where did this fable come from? Was it someone with nefarious purposes in mind, to corrupt our minds with fake history? Or just some chap on email who was bored one day and came up with something to amuse himself? Well, it was a combination of those elements, but long before the concept of email was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye. During World War II, ships at sea often produced daily “newspapers” designed to give the crews war news and interesting information about the Navy and even their own ship. On one particularly slow news day, the story goes that an enterprising journalist in the ship’s office came up with the imaginary tale designed to pander to the sailors’ appreciation for ardent spirits, the Navy, and the heroism of the sailing navy. Of course, Old Ironsides was the perfect setting for the story, as pretty much every sailor knew of her and her unbeaten record during the War of 1812. The journalist printed the story in the ship’s onboard newspaper, and the rest, as they say, is “history.” Talk about a lasting contribution to journalism! So now you know the whole story. Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true. I will leave you with one caveat, courtesy of renowned naval historian Dr. Bill Dudley: “Fake news leads to fake history!” Award-winning author, William H. White, has penned nine maritime historical fiction and non-fiction books; he is a Life Trustee of the USS Constitution Museum (Boston) and a Trustee of NMHS. He writes a weekly blog, “Maritime Maunder.” For more information, visit 41

A False Economy: The Coast Guard’s Largest Single-handed Seizure During Prohibition

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hortly before midnight on 3 July 1927, Coast Guard ensign Charles Duke had just finished hauling himself onto the well deck of the 195-foot SS Economy, of London. This was no mean feat—the freighter’s lowest deck towered nearly nine feet above the bow of the 36-foot double cabin picket boat from which Duke had boarded, and a near gale force wind whipped up a drenching spray of seawater as the vessels cut through choppy seas in the Ambrose Channel near the Statue of Liberty. Duke was thoroughly soaked and thoroughly incensed at the master’s refusal to stop for a boarding. After climbing two sets of ladders from the well deck to the pilothouse, he found the master, first mate, and two others there. Duke identified himself, cited his authority as a Coast Guard officer, and again ordered the master to stop the vessel for inspection. The master insisted that he would stop only upon reaching his intended berth. In no mood for further debate, Duke drew his pistol, aimed it at the master, and repeated: “Drop your anchor and stop.” The sale and transportation of alcohol for human consumption had become illegal 7 ½ years earlier, just after midnight on 17 January 1920. Passage of the Volstead Act (official name: the National Prohibition

Act) the year before, which implemented the 18th Amendment, assured the long-term goal of activist organizations such as the Anti-Saloon League and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. The AntiSaloon League had worked for decades to ban the “demon rum.” Its members held that most societal ills were directly linked to alcohol abuse. Husbands were seen as neglecting their families by wasting their time and paychecks at local watering holes. Widespread domestic violence, public drunkenness, and reduced work productivity were all taken as evidence that Americans could not handle their liquor. To them, there was no other solution than to outlaw the beverage. The ratification of the 18th Amendment stunned the general public. Even though it had been discussed and debated for years, many were incredulous that it actually became the law of the land. Opponents argued, unsuccessfully, that a ban on alcohol would be impossible to enforce and that banning it would hardly magically cure all social ills—or even that alcohol abuse by a minority of the population warranted depriving everyone of a historical right. When beer and liquor began to flow in the gutters, as kegs were smashed and bottles upended on the morning of 17 January 1920, a harsh reality finally hit



by CAPT Daniel A. Laliberte, USCG (Ret.)

Charles L. Duke was sworn in as a Coast Guard ensign on 26 August 1925, during a period of dramatic growth for the service after the start of Prohibition. He resigned his commission nine years later and transferred to the US Naval Reserve. home. Individuals wondered: How was one to find a drink? Pretty easily, as it turned out. Customers turned to “speakeasys” and private saloons that were initially supplied from the hundreds of thousands of gallons of alcohol that had been surreptitiously stockpiled during the year between the passage of the Volstead Act and its implementation. Others turned to alcohol intended for legal medicinal and religious use. Sympathetic physicians would write prescriptions for up to a quart of whiskey per month, the amount allowed for medicinal purposes, and the volume of wine consumed at some churches and synagogues mysteriously increased more than ten times over without a corresponding increase in attendance. Bootleggers also began to divert industrial alcohol and step up production of moonshine, homebrewed beer and wine, and “bathtub” gin. New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John Leach, right, watching agents pour liquor into the sewer following a raid during the height of Prohibition. c. 1921



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Hundreds of cases of “Maryland Whiskey” stacked on a beach in the Bahamas, likely Bimini, during Prohibition.


loads of alcohol, often in batches of several hundred cases at a time, to boats running out from the coast. When courts ruled that the Coast Guard’s seizure of the British schooner Henry L. Marshall in August of 1921, less than five miles off New Jersey, was legal under an obscure 1799 maritime law that gave Coast Guard officers authority to board foreign vessels within four leagues of the coast to examine manifests and cargoes to prevent smuggling, the smugglers merely moved what had become known as “rum row” out beyond twelve nautical miles. With only 89 vessels to patrol the entirety of the American coast and harbors, the Coast Guard was effectively powerless to stop the smuggling—seizing less than an estimated five percent of the flow into the country. In April 1924, Congress authorized a huge expansion of the sea service. Over a two-year period, the number of Coast Guard personnel more than doubled, from 3,735 enlisted and 629 commission and warrant officers to 8,230 enlisted and 1,035 officers. Its fleet was also bolstered by the addition of twenty reconditioned destroyers loaned from the Navy, and the acquisition of 223 “cabin cruiser” type vessels and 100 smaller motor vessels. The Coast Guard organized these new “Special Service

Craft,” designated as Destroyer Force, Patrol Boats, and Picket Boats, into an integrated anti-smuggling system that enabled its legacy “General Service Units” to concentrate on pre-existing missions. By the time Ensign Duke reported for duty at Section Base Two, New York Division, in February 1927, these new forces had virtually dispersed rum row. Smugglers simply adapted by shifting transfer operations even farther offshore and sneaking in cargoes of alcohol aboard vessels mimicking legitimate coastal traffic. The commanding officer of Section Base Two required his officers to randomly accompany the base’s boats during patrols of New York Harbor—both for the officers’ experience and to ensure the enlisted crews were not “sandbagging” their patrols. On the night of 3 July 1927, Ensign Duke joined Chief Boatswain’s Mate (BMC) Aron Madsen and Coxswain Henry J. Wood onboard the 36-foot doublecabin picket boat CG-2327. This was a good choice for several reasons: it was the Sunday night of the long July Fourth holiday weekend, and near gale-force winds made for miserable, wet conditions aboard small boats in the harbor. If ever a crew was going to shirk a patrol, that night would have been the night. Although his commanding officer would have heartily approved of his

A Coast Guard 36-foot double cabin picket boat.


While medicinal and religious products were at least safe to drink, the quality of the rest varied from merely bad-tasting to outright poisonous. Industrial alcohol purposely contained poisons called “denaturants.” These had to be removed using a complicated, multi-stage re-distillation process to make alcohol safe for human consumption. Because this was rarely done correctly—if at all—much of the alcohol retained varying levels of poisons. While home brew and moonshine often contained some of this contaminated alcohol to make them “harder,” they also often contained additional toxic substances meant to give a particular color or smell to mimic the real thing. Consumption of these contaminated beverages led to a nationwide epidemic of deaths, poisonings, and other ailments that led some to question whether the United States had merely traded one set of alcoholrelated health problems for another. Both the poor quality and inability of domestic illicit production to meet demand soon led to smuggling from foreign sources. The “good stuff” initially came across the land borders with Canada and Mexico, and into Florida across the straits from the Bahamas and Cuba. While these routes continued to be used during the entire Prohibition period, by 1921 smugglers found smuggling by sea directly to the largest concentrations of customers in coastal New York, New Jersey, and the southern New England states to be safer and more efficient. Large numbers of motherships—foreign-flagged vessels loaded with alcohol from Canada, the Bahamas, and later the French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon off the Canadian coast—began to set up shop just beyond the three-mile territorial limit at sea off the American coast. There, safely beyond the reach of US law, they sold


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choice on this basis alone, Duke had another motive in mind. The Coast Guard had received an intelligence report the previous month that the small British freighter Gray Point was expected to pick up a cargo of alcohol in Saint Pierre and then attempt to sneak it into New York City. Duke felt that the timing—including the cover of holiday festivities—made this night a likely choice. CG-2327 and its crew departed Pier 18, Staten Island—the site of Section Base Two—at 9pm. After spending a few wet hours in high winds and choppy seas checking out suspected landing sites around the harbor, Duke and the crew decided to take advantage of a partial lee off Pier 18. From that somewhat sheltered position, they could monitor the traffic coming up Ambrose Channel, either bound for the quarantine anchorage—where all foreign vessels were required to check in—or, if USflagged, continuing on to New Jersey or New York City. Shortly before midnight they observed a large passenger vessel approaching. Although this was a routine sighting, Duke and Madsen were puzzled by what appeared to be a series of blinking lights trailing the vessel. When the liner left the channel and anchored at the quarantine station, the odd phenomenon continued up the channel. With sudden clarity, Duke realized they were not blinking lights at all—but rather the silhouette of a small, unlighted steamer “very [clearly outlined] against the lights

of Brooklyn behind her.” Duke immediately ordered his boat in pursuit. Although the vessel appeared to fit the physical profile of a US vessel engaged in the coastwise trade, discrepancies in addition to failing to display navigation lights immediately began to appear. During the 2327’s spray-drenched chase, the freighter began to navigate erratically, first crossing the channel and then nearly running aground on Robbins Reef along the west side of the channel—obviously unfamiliar with New York Harbor. As the picket boat closed on the steamer from behind, the name “ECONOMY” and homeport of London could be read on her stern—except the “N” in ECONOMY was painted backwards and “London” was upside down. This amateurish job suggested the name had been changed and repainted while underway by a crewman hanging over the stern from the deck. Duke was nearly certain this was a rum runner taking advantage of the cover of darkness and the activity of a holiday weekend to avoid scrutiny. As a foreign-flagged vessel, the Economy should have stopped for a customs inspection at the quarantine anchorage. Ensign Duke had Madsen bring the 2327 close aboard the Economy’s starboard bow, where he used a megaphone to order the vessel to heave to. When no reply was received, Madsen rounded the steamer’s stern and came up the port side, abaft the pilothouse. Duke again ordered the vessel to stop. When again no reply was received,

he drew his service pistol and fired two shots across Economy’s bow. In response, someone from the pilothouse came to the side and shouted that they were headed in and would not stop until they were docked. All further hails were ignored and the Economy continued to steam up Ambrose Channel. Duke decided that the time for talk was over. He turned to his BMC and said: “Run as close as you can and I will get aboard.” Madsen put on some right rudder and took advantage of the freighter’s lee to block the choppy seas and high winds to place his boat against the port side of the larger hull, but below the well deck. Duke quickly scrambled from the cockpit to the bow of his boat, then stood, and using every inch of his trim, six-foot frame, barely managed to grasp the lower edge of a stanchion to haul himself up. Once aboard, Duke switched on his flashlight and made his way up two sets of ladders towards the pilothouse. There he found the vessel’s master, James G. Bower, a mate, and two other crewmen. When again ordered to stop, Bower repeated his assertion that he was heading to dock at Greenville and would not stop his vessel until he got there. Duke drew his pistol, aimed it at Bower, and threatened to shoot him if he did not stop. Perhaps sensing the ensign was in no mood for further defiance of his authority, Bower immediately became compliant, ringing up “all stop” and offering no further resistance to subsequent orders to anchor and provide his vessel’s papers for inspection. The mate hurried forward to the fo’c’sle to lower the anchor, while Bower retrieved the vessel’s documentation from the chart table. The documents showed that the vessel was actually a British steamer, SS Grey Point, which had cleared nine days earlier from Saint Pierre and Miquelon bound for Nassau with a cargo of alcohol. When Duke asked what he was doing in New York Harbor, the master declined to answer until he was able to consult a lawyer. Duke’s hunch for being on patrol that night had paid off—this vessel was clearly Cases of alcohol on the deck of a schooner seized off Sandy Hook, New Jersey, by the US Coast Guard cutter Seneca in 1924.



the subject of the intelligence memo they had been made aware of earlier. When he finished examining the papers and charts, he faced the master and announced: “You will consider yourself seized.” Duke then ordered the master to raise his anchor, get underway, and proceed to anchorage near the Statue of Liberty for further investigation. While making the turn, the Grey Point strayed outside the channel and grounded. Duke then shouted to BMC Madsen to take CG-2327, which had no radio installed, back to base to fetch backup. After his boat departed, Duke noticed a large, offshore-type motorboat with three or four occupants suddenly appear and begin slowly circling the grounded Economy. He asked Bower if the boat was there to meet him. Although Bower denied any knowledge of the boat, Duke decided it was time to increase the security of his position by clearing all crew from the bridge and weather decks. As he herded the master and bridge crew along the main deck at gunpoint, collecting crewmen as they went, some instinct prompted him to look to his rear.


He was startled to see a crewman running up on him, shouting “Treat him good!” Duke clubbed him to the deck with his pistol and shouted: “Why you G-- D--skunk, who are you trying to fix!” The crewman explained that he wasn’t trying anything, he just wanted Duke to know the master was a good fellow and to not put him in irons. After successfully confining the 22man crew below decks, Duke settled in for a wait of several hours before his backup arrived, which would include a tug to free the Economy from the mud and tow her to anchorage. Ultimately, the charges against the Grey Point and her master were expanded to include: unauthorized name change, entering the territorial waters of the US with a cargo of intoxicating liquor, obstructing an officer of the US Coast Guard, operating at night in New York Harbor without navigation lights; and violation of US quarantine laws. The value of 70,000 gallons of contraband alcohol—worth about $500,000 at the time—would be the largest single-handed seizure by the Coast Guard during Prohibition.

Later that month, Ensign Duke was awarded a Headquarters Commendation for his actions during the seizure. He received an early promotion to lieutenant (junior grade) the next month and went on to perform subsequent assignments both ashore and afloat, including tours aboard the cutters McCall and Downes. In 1934, after nine years of service in the Coast Guard and with the end of Prohibition, he resigned from active duty and accepted a commission in the US Naval Reserve, rising to the rank of commander by 1946. The Coast Guard’s efforts against smuggling would continue past the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, but Duke’s record for a single-handed seizure would remain unbroken. Daniel A. Laliberte served as an intelligence officer, maritime law enforcement officer, and a cutterman for more than thirty years in the United States Coast Guard. He holds a master’s degree in strategic intelligence from the Defense Intelligence College. His articles have appeared in Sea History, Naval History, Nautical Research Journal, American History, and Proceedings.


SEA HISTORY for kids


Christmas Tree Ship Rouse Simmons

ine in ten Americans will celebrate Christmas this year in some capacity, and more than 95 million households will put up a Christmas tree.1 The tradition of hanging boughs of evergreen over doors and windows dates back to pre-Christian times, when ancient peoples believed that they would ward off bad spirits. More and more Americans are buying artificial trees and reusing them year after year, but about 18% of consumers still buy real trees. Some go to cut-it-yourself Christmas tree farms, and others buy them already cut from garden centers and pop-up shops— anywhere vendors can unload truckfuls of cut trees and prop them up to display them for sale.

chicago historical society

As lovely as this story sounds, sailing a vessel on the Great Lakes in late winter was no easy task, and by this part of the season, most other ships had laid up for the winter months. The Great Lakes freeze over in the winter, and dangerous late autumn gales were always on the minds of shipowners and captains whose vessels were still sailing late in the season. Captain Schuenemann was an experienced ship captain and had Herman Schuenemann, a.k.a. “Captain Santa” (center), with been sailing Christmas tree ships to two members of his crew on the deck of the Rouse Simmons. Chicago for almost thirty years. He took the Rouse Simmons up to the northern part of Lake Michigan to pick up a load of trees—estimated at between 3,000 and 5,000—and departed for the trip south, down the length of Lake Michigan to Chicago (nearly 300 miles), on 22 November 1912.

wisconsin historical society

wisconsin historical society

In the early 1900s, Chicago and other cities The 1868 schooner along the shores of the Great Lakes had Rouse Simmons Christmas trees for sale in a grocery store similar arrangements, but the pop-up shops parking lot, in Hillsboro, Oregon. of this era were onboard sailing ships, which carried thousands of cut trees from northern Michigan and Wisconsin to the city streets to sell to residents there. In 1912, there were an estimated dozen to two dozen schooners engaged in this trade, of which the schooner Rouse Simmons would become the most famous. The 123-foot three-masted schooner carrying a few thousand cut trees sailed into Chicago under the command of Herman Schuenemann. The Christmas tree business was a way for the Schuenemann family to add to their income each year, but Captain Schuenemann had earned a reputation for his kindness and generosity, as he gave trees away to many of Chicago’s residents who couldn’t afford to buy them. Nicknamed “Captain Santa,” Schuenemann and his wife and daughters also made and sold wreaths and garlands along the waterfront in Chicago.

No one ever heard from Captain Schuenemann after that; all his family knew was that the The Rouse Simmons alongside the dock in Rouse Simmons did not arrive when they expected her to, nor in the days that followed. A Chicago. A few remaining unsold trees can be late autumn gale had kicked up around the same time the Rouse Simmons was making her seen by the main mast. way down the lake. The day after Schuenemann left for Chicago, a surfman with the US Life-Saving Service at the Kewaunee LifeSaving Station in Wisconsin reported seeing a schooner approximately five miles offshore flying a distress flag. A motor rescue vessel was sent out to her reported location but was unable to reach her in time. The Rouse Simmons had vanished.

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Within a few weeks, Christmas trees began washing up on shore along the western side of the lake. Twelve years after the Rouse Simmons disappeared, a fisherman found Captain Schuenemann’s oilskin wallet in his net when he hauled it up to his boat in Lake Michigan. With that, the evidence of the Rouse Simmons’s fate disappeared, but legends and folk stories live on. That is, until 1971, almost sixty years later, when a Milwaukee scuba diver discovered the shipwreck on the lakebed about twelve miles northeast of Two Rivers, Wisconsin, in 165 feet of water.

A modern-day Christmas Tree Ship: USCGC Mackinaw delivering trees to needy Chicago families.

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Since 2000, an organization called Chicago’s Christmas Ship, a group formed by local mariners who collaborate with the US Coast Guard, has collected more than a thousand Christmas trees each year and brought them to Navy Pier in Chicago aboard the USCG icebreaker Mackinaw. From there, in the spirit of Captain Santa, volunteers distribute the trees to disadvantaged families in the area. 1 Pew Research Survey; and a Nielsen/Harris Poll on behalf of the National Christmas Tree Association, 2019.


n October of 1971, Gordon Bellrichard was out on Lake Michigan using sonar to survey the lakebed, looking for the remains of a steamship lost in a storm in 1877. Local fishermen had told him of an area of the lake where their nets kept getting snagged on something on the bottom, near Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Sure enough, the sonar produced a contact that looked promising; he put on his dive gear and went down to check it out. There, in 165 feet of water, rested a wellpreserved shipwreck, sitting upright on the bottom. Bellrichard had not found a steamship, however. Instead, he had discovered the remains of the Rouse Simmons, the famous Christmas tree ship that had gone down in a late November gale in 1912. When the Rouse Simmons was lost, all that was found were some Christmas trees that washed up on shore over the next few weeks, and remarkably, the captain’s wallet that came up in a fisherman’s net years later. Other than that, no one knows exactly what happened and why the schooner sank. That’s where maritime archaeologists can help. In the years since Gordon Bellrichard found the wreck, the site has been properly documented by Wisconsin state archaeologists, and they have learned a lot about what must have happened by studying the Rouse Simmons’s remains on the bottom of Lake Michigan. Records about the ship tell the story of her construction and 44 years on the Great Lakes, and archaeologists help tell the story of what happened when and after she went down. Maritime archaeologists document shipwrecks sites in situ, meaning “in place” —without moving or disturbing the remains. This work is usually done underwater, with archaeologists trained in scuba diving The Rouse Simmons wreck site on the bottom of Lake Michigan. Local taking measurements and making scaled drawings of the wreck site divers place an evergreen tree on the bow each fall in honor of her exactly as it lies on the bottom. Depending on the visibility, photos and legacy as a Christmas tree ship. video can supplement their documentation. The evidence found at the Rouse Simmons site dispels some of the myths surrounding her sinking and reveals a few things about what must have been happening onboard as the schooner began to founder. For example, the shipwreck is lying on the lakebed with her bow pointing to the northwest towards shore, not south, in the direction she would have been sailing. Her anchor gear—anchor, chain, windlass, and tools—were found on deck at the bow, ready to deploy, and her anchor was found 170 feet north of the wreck site. “Given the amount of chain on the vessel, the depth of water and the intensity of the wind, it was impossible for the Rouse Simmons to safely anchor out in the lake. Likely … something had gone seriously wrong aboard the vessel, and her crew had deployed the port anchor to hold the Rouse Simmons into the wind. Soon after making this decision, however, large waves sent the Rouse Simmons and her crew to the bottom of Lake Michigan. … The weight of the anchors and the chain piled on the deck contributed to the force with which the vessel struck the bottom. As the vessel hit bow-first, causing a ten-foot deep divot in the sandy bottom, the majority of her rigging was flung forward of the vessel where it lies on the lake Photomosaic of the Rouse Simmons wreck site. bed, raking the chainplates forward, dislodging the fore and main masts and snapping the mizzen mast.” 1 Other details confirm the reports that the ship was overloaded with thousands of Christmas trees, both lashed on deck and stored in the hold down below, and that the deck plank fastenings were deteriorated and weakened with age. These are just a few of the things that a proper archaeological survey of a shipwreck can tell us, and it is why it is important for divers not to remove individual pieces of a shipwreck find before a proper survey can be conducted. What may be a cool souvenir to some, might be an important clue to the archaeological record. You can see more photos of the Rouse Simmons shipwreck, and learn more about the ship and other shipwrecks in Wisconsin’s waters, at the Wisconsin Shipwrecks website produced by the Wisconsin Historical Society and University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute: 1



p47 photos courtesy of the wisconsin historical society


The Rest of the Story: What Maritime Archaeology Can Tell Us


Animals in Sea History by Richard King



y 15 December 1952, 39-year-old Ann Davison had been at sea alone for over three weeks. Aboard Ann Davison her 23-foot sailboat, Felicity Ann, she was about a at the start of third of the way through her ocean crossing from her 1952 sail the Canary Islands, which would be the first known solo across the Atlantic passage by a woman. In 1952, there was no such Atlantic. thing as GPS, satellite phones, or long range marine weather broadcasts; radar was still in its infancy and not accessible by recreational sailors. As she used the tools and technology of her day, Davison carried on to the west and south, trying to locate the normally predictable trade winds she’d been promised and upon which sailors can usually depend in these latitudes. Around noon Davison observed “enormous shoals” of flying fish and dolphin-fish (a.k.a. mahi mahi) in pursuit. She watched large flocks of seabirds soaring and diving. A particular pair caught her attention, and she wrote in her sea journal: “Two bosun birds visit ship with loud squawks and fly around and around mast shrieking ornithological oaths at one another. Flying appears to be a great effort to them and they seem to be on the point of stalls unless flapping furiously with their narrow swept back wings.” Davison’s birds here are tropicbirds (Phaethon spp.). There are three different species around the world: the red-tailed, the red-billed, and the white-tailed. Based on her geographical location, the pair flying above Felicity Ann were likely one of the latter two species, since the red-tailed hasn’t been recorded in the North Atlantic. All tropicbirds, a bit smaller and more slight than herring gulls, have glistening white plumage as adults. Their narrow tail feathers flow behind them like streamers, and can grow nearly two feet long. Sailors historically called them bosun birds because seamen considered these tail feathers to evoke the marlinspike, a long thin metal tool commonly worn on the belt of a ship’s boatswain (pronounced “bosun”), whose job it was to maintain a ship’s sails and rigging.

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photo by ellen massey leonard

Davison made accurate diagnostic observations of her tropicbirds, which are indeed known to hover with rapid wing-beats, unique from other deep ocean seabirds. Tropicbirds, also true to their name today, are found mostly in warmer waters. They hunt fish at sea, sometimes plunge-diving like pelicans, and other times snatching fish just off the surface, like frigatebirds. Tropicbirds usually only come ashore to nest, typically on isolated islands away from predators that would eat their eggs or chicks. Four days after her first visit from the pair of tropicbirds, Ann Davison saw another from her boat’s cockpit: “Bosun bird, going east, flies past ship without batting an eyelid. This very unusual as these birds take a great interest in F[elicity] A[nn]. So I give a piercing wolf whistle, whereon bosun bird wheels smartly around, flaps back to ship, dives and stalls about three feet from my head, looks sharply at me, decides against whatever he had in mind to do and flies smartly away again.” The squawks and shrieking of these birds might account for another reason sailors called them bosun birds: on several types of ships, especially in the navy—even today—boatswains carried a metal whistle to deliver shrill commands that their crews could hear over the wind and waves. After her two sightings of these notable seabirds, Davison continued on her ocean crossing, finally approaching the Caribbean island of Dominica after a nine-week passage. Her history-making, singlehanded transAtlantic sail came to an end when she dropped anchor on 24 January 1953. Davison then sailed her boat up the Caribbean island chain to Antigua, on to the Bahamas, and finally to New York City. At one point on her way through the Bahamas—more exhausted than triumphant—she was working to repair a fresh rip in one of her sails and mulling over how to deal with a failing rudder when once again she looked up and saw a pair of tropicbirds. They were “dive bombing” after a This tropicbird was photographed on a passage between school of little fish near her boat. She thought the tropAntigua and Bermuda in June 2010 by Ellen Massey icbirds sounded so resentful that it was as if they were Leonard, from the deck of her 38-foot sloop Heretic. shrieking to scare her off their waters. “I only wished they could,” Davison wrote, “for this was turning out to be a tedious voyage.” You can read Ann Davison’s full account in a neglected classic of sea literature, titled My Ship is So Small (1956). Her boat is still on the water today thanks to a careful, complete restoration by the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock, Washington. Felicity Ann sailed in 2018 with the Community Boat Project, touring the islands of Puget Sound and sharing Davison’s story, inspiring new generations of sailors and adventurers. This time, however, at these northern latitudes, the voyage of the Felicity Ann was urged on by silent cormorants rather than the whistling, squawky tropicbirds. For more “Animals in Sea History” go to or

WINTER 2019–20by the Henry L. & Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation “SSEA ea HHISTORY istory for169, K ids ” is sponsored

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project liberty ship

John W. Brown

agreement expired, the new owners provided a berth at Pier C through the end of the 2019, while Project Liberty Ship Inc. (PLS), the volunteer organization responsible for running and maintaining the ship, searches for alternatives. Michael Barnes, who coordinated the pier search effort, reports that fewer than a dozen available commercial piers in Baltimore are large enough to accommodate the 440-foot historic vessel; many of these piers are already being leased to the federal government and most come with security restrictions that would hinder the educational and tourist activities the Brown frequently hosts onboard. PLS has considered buying a pier, but available local sites are in disrepair and would require lengthy—and costly—construction work, making them unlikely prospects for a non-profit organization with a looming deadline. The PLS board is reluctantly considering moving to another port. Such a move would take the Brown away from its Baltimore maritime connections, and away from the home-base of a majority of its volunteers, who are critical to its operations. The 77-year-old ship, named after a maritime labor leader, was launched at Bethlehem Steel’s Fairfield Shipyard in Baltimore on Labor Day in 1942. The Brown completed thirteen voyages carrying troops and cargo during and after World War II, going on to serve as a maritime trades high school in New York City for 36 years. SS John W. Brown returned to Baltimore in 1988, where she was 50

restored to her 1944 configuration by Project Liberty Ship volunteers. Since then, the museum ship has sailed more than 25,000 miles and visited 29 ports in the United States and Canada, expanding its community outreach from nostalgia cruises to acting as a classroom and fully operational training facility for the Maryland Port Authority, US Navy Sea Cadets, high school STEM students, local police, firefighters, emergency responders, the Baltimore-based Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies, the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association, and others. (Interested parties and supporters are encouraged to contact PLS at: PO Box 25846, Highlandtown Station, Baltimore MD 21224; Ph. 419 558-0646;; by ema il at ... The 1875 Grand Banks fishing schooner, Ada K. Damon, which came ashore at Ipswich, Massachusetts, during a winter gale in 1909, was re-exposed recently by a powerful autumn Nor’easter, creating an opportunity for the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources (MBUAR) to launch its new shipwreck documentation effort. David S. Robinson, MBUAR’s new director and chief archaeologist, is eager to make the Commonwealth’s rich maritime history and specifically its shipwrecks more accessible to the public, including those who do not scuba dive. One of the ways Robinson plans to achieve this goal is through a new campaign to get as many of Massachusetts’s ship-

wrecks documented as he can using photoscanning to create 3D photogrammetric models of them. The Ada K. Damon’s remains on Crane Beach provided an ideal environment for this kind of work as they are easily accessible­—until a subsequent storm recovers the timbers. The schooner had been the focus of earlier research efforts by the MBUAR (in 2015 and 2016), when they partnered with the Seafaring Education and Maritime Archaeological Heritage Program, Salem State University, the National Park Service, the Nautical Archaeology Society, and the PAST Foundation to offer field schools to examine the vessel’s archaeological remains and the arc of its history. The MBUAR’s 3D photogrammetric models of Massachusetts’s shipwrecks will eventually be added to the MBUAR’s website. ( ... On 3 October, the US Coast Guard announced changes to its tattoo policy for new recruits and current service members. The policy change seeks to increase the pool of otherwise-qualified potential applicants while ensuring that the Coast Guard’s workforce maintains its sharp and professional military appearance to the public. Changes to the policy now designate: •Tattoos may not be visible above the collar of the Coast Guard’s Operational Dress Uniform’s (ODU) crew neck t-shirt. •One finger-tattoo per hand is permitted; ring tattoos are considered the

Schooner Ada K. Damon

david s. robinson, mbuar

The Liberty Ship John W. Brown may have to leave its long-time homeport in Baltimore, Maryland, by the end of 2019. The ship’s former berth at a Clinton Street Pier was owned by the State of Maryland, but the pier was sold in 2014 to Rukert Terminals Corp., a private terminal operator, which agreed to a free five-year berthing lease at the time of sale. When the lease



spring of 2017, Mary E arrived at Maine Maritime Museum, where an extensive restoration took place in the museum’s historic shipyard. Mary E was relaunched in the Kennebec River in spring 2018, and spent that summer and fall alongside the dock, serving as a floating exhibit. For the 2019 sailing season, the museum began offering evening cruises aboard Mary E, giving visitors the unique opportunity to sail aboard the historic vessel. (243 Washington St., Bath, ME; Ph. 207 443-1316; ...

same category as finger tattoos. No tattoos are authorized on the thumbs. •A single tattoo per hand no larger than one inch in any dimension is authorized on the hand between the wrist and the first knuckle closest to the wrist. No tattoos are authorized on the palms of hands. •In total, one hand tattoo and one finger or ring tattoo are allowed per hand. The rules governing piercings and other body modifications have not changed from the previous policy. (To read the new policy in its entirety, go to www.dcms.uscg. mil/Tattoo/.) ... The schooner Mary E, Maine Maritime Museum’s flagship, was entered in the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service on 30 September. Built in Bath, Maine, in 1906 as a fishing schooner, Mary E also worked as a cargo carrier and windjammer, and is rumored to have been a rum-runner during Prohibition. After a long career fishing off Block Island, Mary E was eventually abandoned in 1960, and later sank during a 1963 hurricane in Lynn Harbor, Massachusetts. Two years later, William R. Donnell II of Bath purchased and raised the vessel, brought her to Bath, and embarked on a two-year restoration of the vessel on the grounds of what is now the Maine Maritime Museum campus. Back at sea, Mary E served as a passenger vessel for many years. In 2016, the museum purchased Mary E from her then-owner Matt Culen, who had been running sailing trips out of the Connecticut River Museum. In SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20

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Mary E

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The $125-million expansion features three new major galleries, a sun-lit atrium, a dedicated entry for school and group tours, linkages to existing galleries, and a 5,000-square-foot garden designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. The new wing and adjacent renovated galleries feature fresh installations of the museum’s permanent collections, as well as newly commissioned work by contemporary artists. The new maritime art gallery frames the sea as an enduring source of both opportunity and peril, a force that inspires creativity and innovation, and encourages engagement with the wider world. The installation offers a global perspective on our relationship with the sea, placing, for example, a Maori paddle from the Cook Islands and a brass Pakistani astrolabe from the 17th century in conversation with Salem’s rich history of maritime trade and exploration. Immersive digital media amplify the compelling stories behind unassuming objects, like a calendar stick (below) from 1803 with notches carved to record

the long days Rhode Island native, James Drown, spent shipwrecked and left for dead on Tristan Da Cunha, a remote island in the South Atlantic. The Maritime Art Gallery is just one of several of the new innovative and multi-media galleries, which include exhibits on: American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, and Native American, Oceanic, and African art. (East India Square, 161 Essex Street, Salem, MA; ...

Fresh on the heels of launching Mayflower II in September, Mystic Seaport Museum hauled the fishing schooner L. A. Dunton on 1 October in preparation for an upcoming major restoration project. Built in 1921 in Essex, Massachusetts, the 123-foot-long L. A. Dunton is one of the last surviving examples of the Grand Banks fishing schooners, one of New England’s most common offshore fishing vessels in the beginning of the 20th century. The Dunton was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994. The schooner was acquired by Mystic Seaport in 1963. Since that time, the vessel has undergone several restorations, the most significant in 1973– 77, when the vessel received new topside framing, planking, and deck. In addition, the below-deck spaces were restored to the original configuration from her fishing days. Bottom portions of her hull have L. A. Dunton

mystic seaport museum

Nelson’s signature and the date September 5 1805. The paper was donated to the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth. The sketch was displayed for one day on Trafalgar Day, 21 October; it will be placed on permanent exhibition in spring 2020 in the refurbished Victory Gallery. (National Museum of the Royal Navy, HM Naval Base (PP66), Portsmouth, UK; www. and ... The Door County Maritime Museum (DCMM) broke ground in November for a major expansion project. The 10-story Maritime Lighthouse Tower will nearly double the museum’s space and provide much-needed exhibition galleries that will be equipped to support interactive and high-tech exhibits. In addition, an observation tower with a 360° view, indoor and outdoor observation decks, and a community event space will support initiatives

within both the museum and the community at large. (120 N. Madison Ave., Sturgeon Bay, WI; Ph. 920-743-5958; ... On 28 September, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, opened its new 40,000-square-foot wing to the public.


national museum of the royal navy

A sketch drawn by Admiral Lord Nelson of his plan for victory at Trafalgar has been discovered in the pages of a scrapbook and was put on exhibit on the 214th anniversary of the battle at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, England. Historian Martyn Downer, a Nelson expert, found the sketch tucked between the pages of a book from the 1830s, which was recently sold in an auction. In the drawing, the plan to split the Royal Navy into three divisions is illustrated, as well as a depiction of the wind direction, a force Nelson intended to use to take advantage of increased speed. Along with the sketch was an address leaf with

never received comprehensive restoration, and the planned work will address the vessel’s hull below the waterline, topsides, deck, and rigging to maintain her historic and structural integrity. During this short haulout at the museum’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard, a crew completed a structural survey of the vessel to determine required materials, workflow, and staffing, as well as documentation of the Dunton’s current condition. Aiding in the documentation process is a laser scan of the hull conducted by John Hinton of Zachry Nuclear Engineering. Using a Faro laser scanner, Hinton recorded a series of scans from locations both inside and outside of the hull. The various scans are then stitched together to create a digital representation of everything in the scanner’s line of sight. The museum was awarded a 2018 National Maritime Heritage Grant to fund this recent work. With routine maintenance of her hull completed, Dunton was relaunched to make way for the schooner Sherman SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20

mystic seaport museum

Sherman Zwicker

Zwicker is now under the care of the nonprofit Maritime Foundation and operates as an oyster bar and restaurant on the Manhattan waterfront. The museum shipyard crew will work on the vessel in phases during the winter months, so the schooner can return to Hudson River Park’s Pier 25 in New York City each spring to resume business. ... Wish You Were Here, a new exhibit featuring an array of vintage postcards and travel photography from around the globe, opened this November at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. In addition to views of iconic travel destinations and scenes of Southern California and beyond, the postcard portfolio includes commemorative scenes of historic moments, such as the Balboa Park Exposition, Charles Lindbergh’s visit, World War I naval fleet and stations, and the Spreckles yacht sailing San Diego Bay. Visitors will wander through a compelling collection of black-and-white photography depicting international ports-of-call, featuring contributions from Southern California history buff Nancy K. Dubois, who recently

donated her collection to the museum. Before visitors depart, they can design their REAL WAR PHOTOS own vintage-style postcard to snail mail to friends and family and snap Wish You Were Here selfies to share instantly on social media from any one of the museum’s historic vessels overlooking San Diego Bay. The exhibition runs through May 2020.(1492 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA; Ph. 50,000+ ships, battles & military photos Request a FREE catalog. 619 234-9153; ... 50% Veterans Discount! The former presidential yacht Sequoia P.O. Box 414, Somerset Ctr, MI 49282 (AG-23) arrived in Belfast, Maine, on 21 734-327-9696 October for what is planned to be an extensive overhaul. The French & Webb shipyard will carry out the restoration, exReal War Photos Ad.indd 1 4/10/2018 08:08:10 Beaufort Naval Armorers Beaufort pected to take several years. Explained Beaufort Naval Naval Armorers Armorers Michael Cantor, managing partner of Equator Capital Group, which owns the yacht: “In four years, and hopefully sooner, Sequoia will be seaworthy and ready for Americans to once again enjoy the former CANNONS presidential yacht’s storied past.” Sequoia CANNONS

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Zwicker, which will be at Mystic to undergo a multi-year restoration project. The Zwicker is a wooden auxiliary fishing schooner built in 1942 at the Smith and Rhuland shipyard in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Influenced by the famous Bluenose, the Zwicker was built to fish the Grand Banks and was one of the last saltbank fishing vessels to operate, continuing until 1968. The

was used by nine presidents: Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter, between 1931 and 1977. She served as a venue for presidential social and recreational activities, as well as important domestic and foreign policy meetings. Significant moments in history, including the exchange of nuclear weapons technology in the aftermath of WWII, President Johnson’s “Great Society” programs, withdrawal from the Vietnam War, detente with the Soviet Union, strategic arms limitation, and President Nixon’s resignation were all discussed and deliberated aboard this historic yacht. The 104-foot vessel was designed by yacht designer John Trumpy and built by the Mathis Yacht Building Company of Camden, New Jersey, in 1925. Her original owner was Philadelphia banker Richard M. Cadwallader Jr.; she was sold to the US Dept. of Commerce for $200,000 in 1931. Some accounts of Sequoia’s service to the department assert that she was an inspection vessel, while others state that she was













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William A. Irvin

wikipedia commons

a decoy for Prohibition enforcement. President Herbert Hoover took the yacht on fishing trips towards the end of his term, and FDR made it official by formally transferring her to the US Navy and having her commissioned as the presidential yacht USS Sequoia (AG-23) on 25 March 1933. Her career as presidential yacht came to an end when President Carter ordered her sale; she was sold to Thomas Malloy for $286,000 in 1977. In the years since, she had seven owners. In recent years, the vessel was the subject of a years-long legal battle; in his ruling, the judge bemoaned the fact that the former presidential yacht was “sitting on an inadequate cradle on an undersized marine railway in a moribund boatyard on the western shore of the Chesapeake, deteriorating and, lately, home to raccoons.” (Equator Management Associates, LLC, 2101 L Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC; ... The museum ship William A. Irvin has returned to her berth in the Minnesota Slip, ready to welcome visitors in the spring. The Great Lakes ore freighter had to be removed in September of 2018 to facilitate the $1.9 million cleanup project to stabilize, cap and contain contaminated sediment in the waters of the Minnesota Slip. The procedure was particularly challenging because the installation of the Minnesota Slip Bridge, built in 1991 to facilitate pedestrian traffic, created an extremely narrow passage, with a total clearance of a

little over 7 inches on either side for the Irvin to pass through. Once clear of the bridge, the Irvin was delivered to Fraser Shipyards of Superior, Wisconsin, where the hull was repaired and painted and more than 200 corroded rivets in the hull were identified and repaired. The project was paid for by a $504,000 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society. William A. Irvin was returned to her home berth on 16 October. Named for 1930s US Steel president William Adolph Irvin, the 610-foot bulk freighter was built in 1938 by the American Ship Building Company of Lorain, OH, for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company, a holding of US Steel. She was the first major bulk freight ship constructed on the Great Lakes following the Great Depression. The ship carried iron ore and coal between ports in Duluth and Two Harbors, MN, and Gary, IN, South Chicago, IL, and various ports in Ohio. As the flagship for the US Steel Great Lakes fleet, she was outfitted with more posh accommodations than most Pleasant Stre freighters. The Irvin was retired in 1978; 20 in 1986 she was renovated and perma-

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nently moored in the Duluth harbor at the Minnesota Slip, serving as a museum ship for seasonal public tours. She was accepted onto the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. (Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, 350 Harbor Drive, Duluth MN 55802; 218-722-5573; https:// ... The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum recently opened Fishing with Paper and Ink, a new exhibition of prints in the Japanese Gyotaku tradition, featuring works by nature printing artists Eric Hochberg and Dwight Hwang. Dr. Hochberg is a

curator emeritus in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and is one of the leading nature printers in the United States. He has been active in printing since 1968 and has studied and collaborated with printmakers throughout the world. Mr. Hwang’s first exposure to Japanese gyotaku occurred in 2008 at a tackle shop in Tokyo, where the walls were covered with fish prints. Hwang was immediately captivated and began experimenting with the medium. His works have since been shown around the world and published in several books. Mr. Hwang will demonstrate and discuss fish printing at the museum on 20 February 2020. The exhibition is open through March. (113 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, CA; ... On 7 October the paddlewheel steamer Maid of the Loch fired up her engines for the first time in nearly 40 years. Her Patron, Lord Smith of Kelvin, did the honors, starting the engines for the Loch Lomond Steamship Company (LLSC), the volunteer group that has been restoring the ship, a process SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20

begun in 1996. The LLSC is closing in on its goal of operating the steamship under her own power. The group suffered a minor setback in January when the vessel broke free during an attempt to haul her out of the water for more work; the Balloch Slipway was damaged and will need to be rebuilt in steel. The crews set out to work on the Maid dockside, making significant progress throughout the year. Volunteers made structural changes, adding doors and

Nansemond Ghost Fleet Survey


Maid of the Loch

brendan burke


photo by david souza, via wikipedia

a wheelchair lift for accessibility, and the lounges were restored to reflect their original 1950s-era charm. The engines have received a complete overhaul; two-boiler feed pumps, donated by Summerlee Heritage Museum, have been installed, along with new pipework and a mobile boiler plant set up on the pier. This work was bolstered by a £950,000 (approx. $1.2 million) grant from the Scottish government at the end of 2018. The recent improvements, in addition to representing progress on the path to the steamer’s full operations, also improve her appeal as an event venue, contributing to the non-profit’s coffers. Maid of the Loch was built in 1953 in Glasgow’s A & J Inglis shipyard. The largest vessel built for an inland waterway in Britain, she had to be taken apart to be transported to the village of Balloch on rail wagons, then reassembled on the Balloch Slipway on Loch Lomond. With a capacity of 1,000 passengers, she is the largest paddle steamer to sail on the lake. She would go on to serve for 28 years, until her decommissioning in 1981 as the lake’s excursion trade dwindled. She languished for more than a decade, when the Dumbarton District Council purchased her and took initial steps in her restoration, and the LLSC formed to take over her ownership in 1996, maintaining her as a static attraction while raising funds for restoration. (; Loch Lomond Steamship Company, Pier Road, Balloch)

In October, a team of archaeologists from Virginia and the Lighthouse Archaeology Maritime Program (LAMP), the research division of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, met up along the shores of the Nansemond River in Virginia to explore the Upper Nansemond and survey the Nansemond Ghost Fleet. Months earlier, we had been shown a video of drone footage shot and edited by Kermit Hobbs, a local historian and champion of Suffolk history, of this particular bend in the river where a complex of historic vessel remains, half buried in the muddy bottom and banks of the river, can be seen at low tide. The Nansemond River is a twenty-mile-long river that joins the James River at its mouth, forming— along with the Elizabeth River—Hampton Nansemond Ghost Ship Roads. It is named for the Algonquin tribe, which inhabited the region and which still exists today as a state and federally recognized Native American Indian tribe. With support from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources Threatened Sites Program, we partnered with Longwood University and the Archaeological Society of Virginia—Maritime Heritage Chapter to mount an expedition to Suffolk and explore the wrecks. Joining us for much of the project was Dr. John Broadwater, Virginia State Underwater Archaeologist, who was a source of constant support. We explored the river by canoe using side-imaging sonar, and by simply mucking along the banks. In the two weeks we conducted fieldwork, the team identified fourteen wrecked or derelict vessels, with sizes ranging from a small double-ended planked boat—perhaps a simple duck hunting boat—up to a vessel measuring more than 100 feet long. Most of these watercraft remains lie on private land and, with exception of the lowest tidal cycles, are submerged under brackish water and embedded in viscous mud. One vessel in particular, what is now referred to as the Hobbs Site, resides a little higher on the riverbank and thus attracted our attention immediately. Close study of the Hobbs Site timbers indicate the vessel is a bugeye, a type of traditional oystering boat common within the Chesapeake Bay. Bugeyes and their younger cousin, the skipjack, are as American as apple pie and sailed the bay for decades towing oyster dredges under sail. The bugeye emerged during the 1880s in the curious lineage of Chesapeake Bay log-bottomed work boats. Using traditions dating to colonial times and methods perhaps introduced by enslaved Africans, the log boat grew in size from a sailing canoe to the double-masted bugeye, the largest of the logbottomed boats. As the massive logs required for log bottoms dwindled in availability, boatbuilders began switching to time-honored plank-on-frame construction for the bugeye. The example in this stretch of the Nansemond is one of the few surviving examples of such watercraft and represents a rich component of Chesapeake Bay maritime heritage. With further study of this and the other vessels that make up this forgotten fleet, we may also be able to expand our knowledge of the boatbuilding traditions of the lower Chesapeake Bay. These styles are lesser known than the more popularized and well-published traditions of the upper Chesapeake region, leaving it as one of the many missing gaps in the historical record that archaeology can help elucidate. We wish to thank the many individuals who have helped to make this work possible thus far, as well as the Suffolk Nansemond Historical Society, Fairfield Foundation, the City of Suffolk, and the Riddick’s Folly Museum for their support of the project. —Brendan Burke and Nicholas Budsberg Lighthouse Archaeology Maritime Program (

Captains Legacy Society Funding Offshore Voyages for Young Mariners

dona giglio

The Captains Legacy Society, a not-for-profit organization recently founded by friends, family, and shipmates of the late Captain Bert Rogers, has announced it is accepting applications for its inaugural round of scholarships to send two individuals to sea aboard the barque Picton Castle for a three-month offshore voyage in 2020. Bert Rogers was the executive director of Tall Ships America and a long-time sailing ship master, whose own experience aboard the brigantine Romance as a young man changed his life in dramatic and Bert Rogers lasting ways. He spent the rest of his career helping others experience like voyages of their own aboard traditionally rigged sailing ships. In addition to supporting oceangoing sail training vessels and programs, he was also a dedicated mentor to professional sailing ship mariners. Financial support is provided by the Marineros Fund, which also welcomes donations and support to further this mission. Collaborating with the Captains Legacy Society is the barque Picton Castle, which is embarking on a 12-month voyage in spring 2020 from its homeport in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, to the South Pacific. Details on this voyage are below. For more information visit

Barque Picton Castle Returns to the South Pacific in 2020 barque picton castle

The barque Picton Castle is gearing up for a voyage to the South Seas, departing in May 2020. This year-long expedition both starts and ends in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The public is invited to apply for spots on board, either for the entire voyage or for shorter legs. Trainee sailors, often with little or no sailing experience, become the working crew under the guidance of Captain Dan Moreland and his professional crew. Picton Castle will sail for the Caribbean, then to the San Blas Islands and Portobelo in Panama, before transiting the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean. Picton Castle will then head out across the Pacific, making stops in the Galapagos Islands, Pitcairn Island (home of the descendants of the mutineers on the Bounty), French Polynesia, and the Society Islands, visiting Takaroa (where the County of Roxburgh, a Scottish-built iron fourmasted ship, wrecked on the beach in 1906 and lies there to this day), Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, and Raivavae. To make the return trip, Picton Castle will sail south to find the westerly winds, then turn north again at the longitude of Easter Island, which is the next port of call. From there it’s on to the Gulf of Panama and the Pearl Islands and Taboga before a return trip through the Panama Canal. There are a few more tropical ports of call along the Yucatan. Finally, in spring of 2021, Picton Castle intends to participate in the 2021 Tall Ships Challenge in the Gulf of Mexico, before heading home via the Bahamas, Bermuda, and finally to Lunenburg in June 2021. Trainee applications are now being accepted from prospective crew, ages 18 and up of all nationalities. For more details visit Scholarships for two voyagers are available through the Captains Legacy Society.


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CALENDAR Festivals, Events, Lectures, Etc. •Lightning Strikes Twice: The Real Life Sequel to Moby-Dick, film screening, 14 December at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, presented by museum director and maritime archaeologist Cathy Green. (75 Maritime Drive, Manitowoc, WI; Ph. 920 684-0218; •Lantern Light Tours at Mystic Seaport, 13–15 and 20–22 December, evenings between 5 and 10pm. (47 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, CT; Ph. 860 572-0711; •New Year’s Eve Deck Party Aboard USS Constellation, 31 December at 10pm, organized by Historic Ships in Baltimore. (301 East Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD; Ph. 410 539-1797; •New Year’s Eve Fireworks at the Independence Seaport Museum, 31 December in Philadelphia. (211 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA; Ph. 215 413-8655; www. •24th Annual Moby-Dick Marathon, 3–5 January at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. (18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA; Ph. 508 997-0046; www.whalingmu •Watercolor Workshop in the Tradition of J. M. W. Turner, led by artist Joel Popadics, 18–20 January at Mystic Seaport. (75 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, CT; Ph. 860 572-5331; •Eastern Shore Sea Glass and Coastal Arts Festival, 4–5 April at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (213 North Talbot Street, St. Michaels, MD; Conferences & Symposiums •Civil War Round Table: Last Days of USS Monitor with John Quarstein, 20 December at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, VA. (100 Museum Dr., Newport News, VA; www.marinersmus •American Historical Association, 134th Annual Meeting, 3–6 January in New York City. ( •Society for Historical Archaeology Conference, 8–11 January in Boston, MA. Theme: “Revolution” ( •47th Tall Ships America Annual Conference, 17–20 February in St. Pete Beach, FL. Conference theme: “Tall Ships for the SEAHISTORY HISTORY169, 169,WINTER WINTER2019–20 2019–20 SEA

21st Century.” (Details and registration information at; Trade Winds Hotel: tallships) •Expanding Naval History II: Writing, Publishing, Gaming, and Modeling Naval History, presentations and workshops hosted by the Western Naval History Association, 29 February–1 March aboard USS Midway in San Diego, CA. (Information and registration:; •2020 National Council on Public History Annual Meeting, 18–21 March in Atlanta, GA. ( •5th Annual NC Whales & Whaling Symposium, 3 April at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort (315 Front St., Beaufort, NC; Ph. 252 504-7740; •47th Albert Reed & Thelma Walker Maritime Symposium, 4 April at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine. •PCA/ACA National Conference (Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association), 15–18 April in Philadelphia. “Sea Literature, History, & Culture” will be one of the subject areas presented. (www. •Council of American Maritime Museums Annual Conference, 27–29 April at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. (www. •“Port Cities in the Atlantic World,” Conference organized by the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program (CLAW) at the College of Charleston 14–16 May 2020 in Charleston, SC, to mark the 350th anniversary of the settlement of Charles Towne, the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the College of Charleston, and the 25th anniversary of CLAW. ( •International Maritime History Association (IMHA) 8th International Congress of Maritime History, 30 June– 3 July in Porto, Portugal. Theme: “Old and New Uses of the Oceans.” (www.imha •North American Society for Oceanic History (NASOH) 45th Annual Conference, 14–17 May in Pensacola, hosted by the University of West Florida. Conference theme: “Maritime Connections: History,

Heritage and the Maritime Landscape.” Call-for-Papers deadline is 1 February. ( E xhibits •Pacific Rim Institute of Marine Artists Inaugural Exhibition, through 3 January at the Center for Wooden Boats, South Lake Union, 1010 Valley Street, Seattle, WA; Ph. 206 382-2628; •On Land and On Sea: A Century of Women in the Rosenfeld Collection, through 5 April at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (213 North Talbot Street, St. Michaels, MD; •A Peaceful Return—The Story of the Yosegaki Hinomaru, at the Columbia River Maritime Museum (1792 Marine Drive, Astoria, OR; Ph. 503 325-2323; www. •De Wind is Op! Climate, Culture and Innovation in Dutch Maritime Painting, through 15 May at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Also at the museum is George Gale: A Sea-Nurtured Artist, through mid-January. (18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA; Ph. 508 997-0046; www. •J. M. W. Turner: Watercolors from Tate, through 23 February at Mystic Seaport. (75 Greenmanville Ave., Mystic, CT; Ph. 860 572-0711; •Oh, Canada!, through 27 February at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. (800 Riverview Dr., Winona, MN; Ph. 507 4746626; •The Frozen Kingdom: Commerce & Pleasure in the Maine Winter, now through 26 April at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. (43 Washington St., Bath, ME; Ph. 207 443-1316; www.maine •Charles Sandison: Figurehead 2.0, through 2019 at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. Also at PEM, A Lasting Memento: John Thomson’s Photographs Along the River Min, until 17 May. (161 Essex St., Salem, MA; Ph. 978-7459500; •Lighter, Stronger, Faster: The Herreshoff Legacy, through April 2021 at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, MA. (265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA; Ph. 617 253-5927; 57 57



by Peter McCracken

Advanced Google Searching: A Reminder

oogle is, without question, an amazing search tool. It can be tempting to denigrate Google and suggest that Google does a lousy job of getting access to content, but any empirical study of the ease with which anyone can find information these days would clearly show that Google—and the other search engines that have followed it—has revolutionized access to information. When Google’s founders developed the idea that one could judge the value or authority of a web page based on the number and type of other webpages that linked to it—and the authority of a linking webpage was based on the value of the webpages that linked to it—they revolutionized the process of searching online. After twenty years of creating, refining, and constantly improving the algorithms that underlie the entire Google ranking system, and more recently combining that work with structured metadata, Google has made it incredibly easy to find useful and relevant information online. This is no small feat and one to be impressed by, but there are still tricks and tips that help improve your ability to get the most out of a Google search. Below are a few tools you can employ to enhance using Google as your search engine. When you type in multiple search terms, Google assumes that you want an “and” between each word you type; that is, you want all the words you type to appear on the pages it returns. Google goes a step further by sometimes searching for synonyms of the words you use, and returning searches that don’t include all of the terms you use. When it does this, you know because it is indicated on the return listing when that’s the case, and allows you to rerun the search requiring that all the words are present. If you want to guarantee that all words you type in are present, and especially if you have a specific order in which they should appear, you can put the words in quotes or sections of your search words in quotes. While this can be helpful in some situations, Google is quite good at recognizing that words near each other in the search phrase should be near each other in the results pages it returns. Typing in a question just as you would ask a person will yield a result pretty close to what you would expect from an actual human being. If you want to do a search that includes multiple terms for a particular inquiry, use “OR” between words, as in sloop OR ketch OR yawl. A search for (sloop OR ketch OR yawl) sail will look for pages that mention sloop AND sail, ketch AND sail, or yawl AND sail, while a search for sloop ketch yawl sail will display pages that have all four terms before pages with just one or two of the terms. If you want to exclude a specific term, you can put a minus sign ahead of the term. For example, you might search for schooner -glass, to exclude pages about the type of beer glass. Or, if you are finding a lot of irrelevant results, you can add terms to be ignored, through the use of the minus sign. To narrow down your search to a specific phrase, you can click the Tools button under the search bar, then change All Results to Verbatim. Limiting searches by site or by site-type is another very useful tool. For example, the search “hms victory” combines two advanced tools: by combining the terms hms and victory within one set of quotation marks, we can narrow the search to just the term “hms victory”. And by limiting it to websites that end with “” we are only receiving webpages published by the British government. We could go further and add some time limitations to this. For example, you can click on Tools, then change the date when the page was last updated from Any Time (the default) to, say, Past Month. The bottom of that drop-down menu also has a Custom Range option, which allows you to specify specific dates from which you want to see results. When you click on Images or Maps or News, you can limit those results even further, to various types of resources. These are just a few ways that you can use advanced searching in Google, but plenty more exist. Click Settings, then Advanced Search, to see many more options. Suggestions for other sites worth mentioning are welcome at peter@shipindex. org. See for a free compilation of over 150,000 ship names from indexes to dozens of books and journals. 58



Ungentle Goodnights: Life in a Home for Elderly and Disabled Naval Sailors and Marines and the Perilous Seafaring Careers That Brought Them There by Christopher McKee (Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 2018, 352pp, notes, biblio, index, isbn 978-1-59114-573-8; $34.95hc) The social history of the early United States Navy is a specialty of the works of Christopher McKee, who has labored in this uncrowded vineyard for more than forty years. Ungentle Goodnights is his latest work, and it will take its place on scholars’ bookshelves alongside his now classic, elegant study, A Gentlemanly and Honorable Profession: The Officer Corps of the United States Navy, 1794–1815, published in 1991. McKee took his cue from the first three lines of Dylan Thomas’s poem “Do not go gentle into that goodnight; at close of day; rage, rage against the dying of the light.” As one reads McKee’s beautifully written book, the relevance of these lines becomes clear. McKee delved deeply into the records of the US National Archives in Washington, Philadelphia and Boston, and the US Naval Asylum, located in Philadelphia. He has traced, admittedly with some difficulty, the lives of several hundred Navy and Marine Corps enlisted beneficiaries who lived out their last years under the care of the Department of the Navy. The idea of building a home for destitute, aging, incapacitated naval veterans was actually conceived before the War of 1812, but because of the expense and disruption of the war, the project was put off for two decades. In 1811 Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton appointed a commission of naval surgeons to develop a plan for naval hospitals that would include an asylum for naval veterans. In the late 1820s, Secretary of the Navy Smith Thompson, urged on by the new Board of Navy Commissioners, gave approval to the project. Completed in 1831, the Asylum was housed in a handsome Greek Revival-style building constructed on the outskirts of Philadelphia on Grey’s Ferry Road near the shore of the Schuylkill River. Eventually, the Navy constructed a separate naval hospital building on the same property that served conveniently many of the beneficiaries who needed medical care during their declining days at the Asylum. SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20

The great value of this book is that it brings to view the early demographic background of many of the 541 “beneficiaries” who were admitted to the Naval Asylum between 1831 and 1860 and traces their careers and, in some cases, details their painful demise. There is no other study that has shed as much light on the lives of nineteenth-century enlisted Navy and Marine

McKee weaves the story of African Americans in the sea services. Several characteristics of the beneficiaries’ lives enlighten us as to the social origins of those who lived in the lower decks. Their literacy, as observed by the chaplain at the Asylum, was probably more widespread than previously accepted, though their reading ability undoubtedly outstripped their ability to write. By the time they arrived at the Asylum, their health may well have been undermined during their seagoing lives by the traditional daily servings of grog, a mixture of half a pint of rum with an equal amount of water, twice a day. This could not help but have created cravings for similar servings or something more potent, especially The Glencannon Presswhen ashore, hence the popular image of 4 col. inches (2.25 x 4.5 the inches) unruly sailor on liberty. The justification Prefer right hand page,forbottom this wasright. that naval service was an uncomfortable, hard life with little occasion for pleasure, except for the servings of grog, which made them comfortable for the duration of the day. Many beneficiaries’ bodies bore scars, broken bones, missing limbs, and ruptures received while working on a Corps veterans as well as Christopher McKee’s Ungentle Goodnights. Of the 541 THE GLENCANNON beneficiaries in McKee’s sample, the lives PRESS of 172 were taken down in a series of interviews conducted in the mid-1850s. Navy Maritime Books beneficiaries accounted for 128, as compared with 52 Marine beneficiaries but 8 of these had served in both the Navy and the Marine Corps. The combined result of NEW! the interviews was a manuscript called the All AmericAn Troopships “Biography of Beneficiaries” found in the by Capt. Walter W. Jaffee Naval Asylum’s archives. We also discover that at least 84 of the 128 naval ratings had Every vessel that flew the served in the merchant service prior to joining the Navy, but it is possible that some American flag and carried served in the merchant marine of another fighting men to and from the country before they signed on a US naval battlefield. Troop transports vessel. Regarding the 52 US Marines at the from the Spanish American Asylum, nearly two thirds were AmericanWar through the Vietnam War. born; the others from abroad were predominantly of Irish birth. Fully one third More than 360 pages. Availof the sailor beneficiaries were born in the able December 1, 2019. British Isles and Northern Europe, the other two thirds had joined from the MidFREE Catalog 1-510-455-9027 dle Atlantic States, including a handful Online at from the South. Ten of the veterans in McKee’s sample served in the War of 1812. Nine were sailors of color, around whom



rolling deck, swaying aloft in a gale, or heaving great guns into gun ports, and from flying splinters and round shot during a battle. The Naval Asylum’s rules forbade the use of alcohol on the premises, but not far from its high stone walls were many stores, taverns, and brothels where the forbidden brew, as well as other pleasures, could be purchased. A number of the beneficiaries who over-indulged and were boisterous or obnoxious to the others after returning to their home were subdued and warned they could be evicted. Some were kicked out, though their earnest pleas for reinstatement usually provided repeat offenders with readmittance. McKee provides a well-informed analysis of alcoholism at the Asylum and elsewhere in early nineteenth-century America. By mid-century, a growing zest for social reform had fueled the temperance movement and brought the termination of the Navy’s spirit ration in 1862. This handsome book is highly recommended for all who have an interest in the enlisted personnel of the early US Navy, the environment in which they

worked, and what happened to some of them afterward. McKee’s research is exhaustive in exploring all conceivable sources to inform this study. A bibliographical essay provides ample assistance to any who wish to follow McKee’s path. William S. Dudley, PhD Easton, Maryland To Master The Boundless Sea: The US Navy, the Marine Environment, and the Cartography of Empire by Jason W. Smith (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2018, 269pp, illus, notes, biblio, index, isbn 978-1-4696-4004-0; $35hc) As a former merchant mariner turned historian, I always had an appreciation for the sea and how it relates to history. To this day, my copy of The American Practical Navigator—by Nathaniel Bowditch —and Knight’s Seamanship still sit on the bookshelf over my desk. As a navigator onboard ship, I used the Coast Pilot and the wind and weather charts developed by Matthew Fontaine Maury during voyage planning. I know mariners currently sailing for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Ad-

ministration Corps and with the Military Sealift Command conducting surveys along the United States coast and among far-flung islands around the world. All this comes

to bear in Jason Smith’s new book, To Master the Boundless Sea: the US Navy, the Marine Environment, and the Cartography of Empire, which examines the relationship between the oceans and early American maritime history. Smith aims to transcend earlier works and to “find in the sea a thread that can tie together the often disparate

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fields of military, naval, and maritime history with environmental history and the history of science and cartography.” It is no surprise that early American history focused on the sea, but while much has been written about westward expansion and Manifest Destiny, less is known about Americans on the far-flung reaches of the oceans. Their experience predates the terrestrial frontier referenced by Frederick Jackson Turner in the late nineteenth century. Smith details this expansion by focusing on the development of the US Coast Survey and the environmental analysis of the frontier that American commercial and naval vessels experienced. This “Empire of Commerce and Science,” featured in the voyage of the US Exploring Expedition under Charles Wilkes, best represents the expansion of commercial empire across the oceans. The subject of a stand-alone bestselling book by Nathaniel Philbrick, Smith places this event into the overall context of American oceanic exploration and scientific research. One of the standouts in Boundless Sea is that of Matthew Fontaine Maury. His work in hydrographic science led to the publication of numerous works. The most famous and practical for mariners was his Sailing Directions, which predicted winds and currents and assisted navigators in voyage planning. His charts allowed sailors to determine the common highways across the oceans in any month, decreasing their times at sea and giving American commercial ships a distinct economic advantage. Maury’s contributions to the United States so outweighs his decision to join the Confederacy in the Civil War, that the newest survey ship operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command is named for him, USNS Maury (T-AGS 66). The second half of Smith’s work looks at the practical application of this environmental study by examining its application to the US Navy in the Pacific and during the Spanish-American War. Experiments on board USS Tuscarora, the dangers experienced by mariners—‘Twixt the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea—and the practical application of surveys in waging war demonstrate Smith’s desire to merge a study of the environment with oceanic history. His study of the early history of the Navy’s SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20

General Board and their attention to “Controlling the Great Common,” provides a unique insight into the maritime history of the United States going into the twentieth century. Jacob Smith’s To Master the Boundless Seas should be considered essential reading for all in the fields of naval, maritime, and oceanic history. The 2005 collision between the nuclear submarine USS San Francisco (SSN-711) with an undersea seamount in the western Pacific is a graphic demonstration of why this topic is essential. Climate change, the impact of larger intensity storms, rising sea levels, and displaced oceanic currents all transform the flat ocean, depicted on two-dimensional charts, into the true three-dimensional environment that Jacob Smith so aptly conveys in his superb narrative. One only hopes that Dr. Smith continues this line of study into the twentieth century and the modern day. Salvatore Mercogliano, PhD Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina The Great Scuttle: The End of the German High Seas Fleet—Witnessing History by David Meara (Amberley Publishing, Gloucestershire, UK, 2019, 96pp, illus, appen, isbn 978-1-4456-8700-1; $13.95pb) The Great Scuttle: The End of the German High Seas Fleet—Witnessing History by David Meara is the latest volume devoted to the scuttling of the German fleet in Scapa Flow after World War I, a fascinating event barely known to any but historians. The Grand Scuttle: The Sinking of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow in 1919 by Dan van der Vat, published in 1986 by the Naval Institute Press, offers a more complete coverage of the events leading up to the scuttling, but the Meara volume has special appeal. Meara’s mother, Winnie Thorpe, and her brother Leslie were among the throng of school children visiting the mooring place of the great German fleet when the scuttling began. These children were on hand for the historic event, in real time. These youngsters were there. Meara’s uncle put to paper what he saw that day. Meara added to his uncle’s story the details left by others who witnessed the event to produce an eye-witness account of the great scuttle reinforced with photographs, both black and white and color.



“This is history at its best— engaging, focused on the people, and well-researched. The history of the Gulf is an international, multi-generational tale, and Sledge navigates it like a skilled mariner.” —JAMES DELGADO, MARITIME ARCHAEOLOGIST, HISTORIAN, EXPLORER, AND AUTHOR


Available in hardcover and ebook Shop at USCPRESS.COM and booksellers everywhere


What an astounding coincidence! The German ships sat in Scapa Flow for eight months before the signal to scuttle the fleet was given. The children living in the area grew accustomed to the sight of the ships and their skeleton crews lounging on the

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decks smoking and playing cards. But the kids wanted a close-up view of the great ships of war and got their wish when the Royal Navy piled some two-hundred youngsters aboard a supply ship and took them around the Flow and close enough to the interned vessels for the children to identify them. What would have been a mundane boat tour became an event of history when the German ships began sinking and the crews abandoned them for the water or whale boats. The author’s mother was nine years old. The sight of the sinking ships frightened her to tears. Her older brother put the event in perspective when he told her: “We are witnessing history.” The Great Scuttle is not a history of the internment of the German High Sea Fleet but a study of the one day of the scuttle as seen by eye witnesses. The book is attractive and easy to read. Most pages are adorned with photographs and some are devoted to illustrations. Even those familiar with the great scuttle will find pleasure in the many pictures. Readers not familiar with the scuttle will find Meara’s work an introduction to the event that may stir interest in finding more detailed studies. The volume is especially suitable for young readers who will identify with the youngsters who witnessed the sinking of giant ships of war. The Great Scuttle is recommended for general readers as well as historians. Dr. David O. Whitten Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20

New & Noted Ahab’s Rolling Sea: A Natural History of Moby-Dick by Richard J. King (Chicago University Press, Chicago, 2019, 464pp, illus, notes, biblio, index, isbn 9780-226-51496-3; $30pb)

The Gulf of Mexico: A Maritime History by John S. Sledge (University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, 2019, 280pp, illus, notes, biblio, index, isbn 978-164336-014-0; $29.99hc)

Borderland Smuggling: Patriots, Loyalists, and Illicit Trade in the Northeast, 1783–1820 by Joshua M. Smith (University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 2019, 276pp, appen, notes, biblio, index, isbn 978-0-81306443-7 8-$21.95pb)

The Jamestown Brides: The Story of England’s “Maids for Virginia” by Jennifer Potter (Oxford University Press, New York, 2019, 384pp, illus, maps, notes, index, isbn 9780-1909-4; $29.95hc)

The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans by David Abulafia (Oxford University Press, New York, 2019, 1,088pp, illus, maps, notes, biblio, index, isbn 978-0-19993498-0; $39.95hc) Breaking the Gas Ceiling: Women in the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry by Rebecca Ponton (Modern History Press, 2019, 271pp, illus, notes, biblio, index; isbn 9781-61599-443-4; $21.95pb) Don’t Never Tell Nobody Nothin’ No How: The Real Story of West Coast Rum Running by Rick James (Harbour Publishing, New York, 2019, 320pp, appen, notes, biblio, index, isbn 978-1-55017-841-8; $32.95hc) Dorwart’s History of the Office of Naval Intelligence, 1865–1945 by Jeffrey M Dorwart (Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 2019, 320pp, notes, biblio, index, isbn 978-1-68247-391-7; $62hc) Envoys of Abolition: British Naval Officers and the Campaign Against the Slave Trade in West Africa by Mary Wills (Liverpool University Press, partnered with Oxford University Press, Liverpool, UK, 256pp, illus, notes, biblio, index, isbn 9781-78962-078-8; $120hc) Glasgow Museums—The Ship Models by Emily Malcom and Michael R. Harrison (Naval Institute Press, 2019, 320pp, illus, notes, index, isbn 987-1-52675-752-4; $64.95hc) SEA HISTORY 169, WINTER 2019–20

Long Island and the Sea by Bill Bleyer (Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, SC, 2019, 160pp, illus, index, biblio, isbn 97801-4671-3862-8; $21.99pb) Neptune’s Laboratory: Fantasy, Fear, and Science at Sea by Antony Adler (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2019, 256pp, illus, biblio, notes, index, isbn 978-0-67497-201-8; $39.95hc)


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Ocean Sailing: The Offshore Cruising Experience with Real-Life Practical Advice by Paul Heiney (Adlard Coles, Bloomsbury, New York, 2019, illus, index, isbn 978-1-47295-539-5; $35hc) Painting War: George Plante’s Combat Art in World War II by Kathleen Broome Williams (Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 2019, 312pp, illus, index, notes, isbn 978-1-68247-426-6; $29.95hc)

by Kurt D. Voss All proceeds from this pictorial history benefit the ELISSA preservation fund.

Sand and Steel: The D-Day Invasions and the Liberation of France by Patrick Caddick-Adams (Oxford Univ. Press, New York, 2019, 1,072pp, illus, biblio, notes, index, isbn 978-0-19060-189-8; $34.95hc) Roger of Lauria (c.1250–1305): “Admiral of Admirals” by Charles D. Stanton (Boydell & Brewer, Suffolk, UK, and Rochester, New York, 2019, 346pp, illus, biblio, notes, index, isbn 978-1-78327-453-6; $115hc) War at Sea: A Shipwrecked History from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century by James P. Delgado (Oxford University Press, New York, 2019, illus, biblio, notes, index, isbn 978-0-19088-801-5; $34.95hc)

Published by Arcadia Publishing and Galveston Historical Foundation $21.99. 128 pages, 200 photographs Autographed copies available at (409) 763-1877, or online at:

w w w. t s m - e l i s s a . o r g 63


AFTERGUARD J. Aron Charitable Foundation, Inc. The Artina Group Donald T. “Boysie” Bollinger Matt Brooks & Pam Rorke Levy CACI International, Inc. Caddell Dry Dock & Repair Co. George W. Carmany III In Memory of James J. Coleman Jr. Christopher J. Culver Brian D’Isernia & Eastern Shipbuilding Group Henry L. & Grace Doherty Charitable Fdn. Dominion Energy Exelon In Memory of Ignatius Galgan ADM & Mrs. Jay L. Johnson, USN (Ret.) Arthur M. Kimberly Trust In Memory of H. F. Lenfest Richardo R. Lopes Guy E. C. Maitland McAllister Towing & Transportation Co., Inc. Ronald L. Oswald Estate of Walter J. Pettit, Sr. In Memory of Capt. Joseph Ramsey, USMM Charles A. Robertson Marjorie B. Shorrock Howard Slotnick Capt. Cesare Sorio John Stobart Weeks Marine, Inc. William H. White Jean Wort Wynn Resorts BENEFACTORS Chesapeake Bay Foundation VADM Dirk Debbink, USN (Ret.) Richard T. du Moulin Elite Island Resorts EMR Southern Recycling David S. Fowler Green Family in Honor of Burchie Green Kristen Greenaway Don & Kathy Hardy Huntington Ingalls Industries J. D. Power Family VADM Al Konetzni Jr., USN (Ret.) Jennifer London CAPT James A.Noone, USN (Ret.) Erik & Kathy Olstein ADM Robert J. Papp Jr., USCG (Ret.) Russell S. Reynolds Jr. David & Susan Rockefeller Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Rutherford Jr. Scarano Boat Building, Inc. Treecie and Ding Schoonmaker Sea Education Association Philip J. Shapiro H. C. Bowen Smith Norma Stanford In Memory of Peter Stanford US Naval Institute Philip & Irmy Webster Williams College PLANKOWNERS R ADM Joseph F. Callo, USN (Ret.) Elaine Cannon Dayton Carr Cincinnati Financial Corp. CAPT Charles Todd Creekman Jr., USN (Ret.) Capt. Howard R. Hill Jr. Royal Holly Ruth R. Hoyt/Anne H. Jolley Foundation, Inc. H. Kirke Lathrop Thomas & Deborah Lawrence Robert Leary National Geographic Miles Pincus Pritzker Military Foundation Dr. Timothy J. Runyan Peter A. Seligmann Sidney Stern Memorial Trust Star Clipper Cruises US Navy Memorial Foundation Chris Walker Adam Wronowski SPONSORS Paul M. Aldrich American Bureau of Shipping American Maritime Congress ARS Investment Partners CMDR Everett Alvarez Jr., USN (Ret.) Paul F. Balser James R. Barker CAPT Donald Bates, USN (Ret.) The Philip & Patricia Bilden Family Charitable Fund Jim & Christine Bruns Stephen & Carol Burke Byers Foundation C. Hamilton Sloan Foundation Dr. John & Rachel Cahill Douglas Campbell Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum James W. Cheevers J. Barclay Collins Conservation International C. W. Craycroft Crowley Maritime Corp. Peter Cummiskey Dr. William S. & Donna Dudley The Edgar & Geraldine Feder Foundation, Inc. Flagship Olympia Foundation Mrs. D. L. Fleischmann D. Harry W. Garschagen Burchenal Green William J. Green ADM Jonathan Greenert, USN (Ret.) Catharine Guiher John Gummere Robert S. Hagge Jr. Marius Halvorsen CAPT Roger P. Hartgen, USCG (Ret.) Hershey Foods Corp. Charles Hinnant Hornbeck Offshore Todd Hornbeck Independence Seaport Museum Neil E. Jones RDML Eric C. Jones, USCG William Kahane Benjamin Katzenstein Cyrus C. Lauriat Norman Liss Panaghis Lykiardopulo The MacPherson Fund, Inc. Maine Maritime Museum Ann Peters Marvin David J. & Carolyn D. McBride McCarter & English, LLC Peter McCracken CAPT Sally Chin McElwreath, USN (Ret.) Dr. Joseph F. Meany Jr. Michael Morris Robert E. Morris Jr. William G. Muller Mystic Seaport Museum Navy League of the US New York Yacht Club Capt. Eric Nielsen Oceaneering International The Olde Stones Foundation Christopher Otorowski The Betty Sue and Art Peabody Fund Pennsylvania State University Hon. S. Jay Plager John Rich George Schluderberg Shipbuilders Council of America CDR William H. Skidmore Skuld North America Inc. Philip Stephenson Foundation Stonehouse Inc. Daniel R. Sukis Transportation Institute University of Utah William Van Loo Andres Duarte Vivas VSE Corporation George & Anne Walker Waterford Group Thomas Wayne Daniel Whalen Michael M. Wiseman CAPT Channing M. Zucker, USN (Ret.) DONORS Silas Antony, Jr. W. Frank Bohlen Eleanor F. Bookwalter Carroll Brooks James O. Burri John Caddell II R ADM Nevin P. Carr Jr., USN (Ret.) Louis Clairmont Bradley D. Conway Gerald F. B. Cooper Cynthia & Gerry Dubey Dr. John Finerty Mr. & Mrs. Eugene P. Finger Robert P. Fisher Jr. Robert Franzblau Daniel Gallagher Mary Habstritt J. Russell Jinishian Gallery Robert F. Kamm Mary Burrichter & Bob Kierlin Brett M. Klyver Kobrand Corp. & Marco Sorio James P. Latham Paul Jay Lewis Frederick C. Leiner Man Tech Walter C. Meibaum III Richard S. Merrell CAPT R. G. Moore, USCG (Ret.) Richard Muller Jeffrey G. Neuberth New York Container Terminal Wynn & Patricia Odom Mrs. Joanne O’Neil CAPT Richard T. O’Shea, USMC COL Bruce E. Patterson, USA Philip B. Persinger Harry & Susan Rein Mr. & Mrs. William P. Rice Capt. W.E.Richardson, USN (Ret.) Mike Roberts Charles Raskob Robinson In Memory of Capt. Bert Rogers Lee H. Sandwen Scholarship America Vincent Monte-Sano Mr. & Mrs. John R. Sherwood III Gerould R. Stange Philip E. Stolp Diane & Van Swearingin Alix Thorne Roy Vander Putten Watch Hill Yacht Club Gerald Weinstein Dr. David Winkler Richard C. Wolfe PATRONS Georgios Andreadis Deborah Antoine Carter S. Bacon Jr. Kenneth G. Bastian Charles R. Beaudrot Jr. CAPT R. A. Bowling, USN (Ret.) James H. Brandi RADM David C. Brown, USMS (Ret.) Jerry M. Brown Robert P. Burke Jose O. Busto James M. Clark Jr. Dr. Gerard J. Clifford Jr. John C. Couch Sean Crahan Jack Creighton Morgan Daly Ian Danic Dr. Jacob Deegan & Judy Johnstone Anthony De Lellis Jr. C. Henry Depew George Dow Michael F. Dugan Richard H. Dumas Reynolds duPont Jr. Dr. Theodore Eckberg Gary Eddey MD Egan Maritime Institute Peter Q. Eschweiler Marc Evans Ken Ewell Colin Ferenbach Ben P. Fisher Jr. James J. Foley Jr. HMC Philip E. Galluccio, USN (Ret.) Donald A. Garand Capt. Dwight Gertz George Grace Arthur Graham Ray Guinta Robert M. Hall J. Callender Heminway Dr. David Hayes Nathan L. & Helen Hazen William L. Henry Capt. J. W. Hetherington Joseph C. Hoopes Steven A. Hyman Marius Ilario Timothy A. Ingraham Andrew MacAoidh Jergens Gary Jobson Jane Sundelof Jones Richard Julian The Kelton Foundation Robert Kenyon James L. Kerr James & Barbara Kerr Mr. & Mrs. Chester W. Kitchings Jr. R. Joyce Kodis Peter R. La Dow Ted Lahey John L. Langill Chris Lautz F. W. Lee Robert Lindmark Louis & Linda Liotti James L. Long Com. Chip Loomis III Babcock MacLean Lawrence Manson Maritime Heritage Prints Mr. & Mrs. Alan McKie Dr. Arthur M. Mellor April Merrell Christopher W. Metcalf Glenn L. Metzger Richard A. & Lois Meyer Vincent Miles Charles H. Miller Robert Miorelli Michael G. Moore Thomas A. Moran Michael Moss & Ellen Chapman Rev. Bart Muller John Mulvihill James A. Neel Robert A. Neithercott Randy Nichols Eric A. Oesterle Roger Ottenbach William L. Palmer Jr. Alan D. Peterson Nathaniel Philbrick Peter B. Poulsen Joseph Quinn Andrew A. Radel CAPT Michael J. Rauworth, USCG (Ret.) Phineas Reeves Reed Robertson William M. Rosen Sherwood A. Schartner Robert W. Scott Douglas H. Sharp Belinda J. Shepard Henry B. Dunlap Smith Richard Snowdon Edmund Sommer III Roy L. Spring Patricia Steele Rob Surprenant Marty Sutter Craig Swirbliss A. E. & Diana Szambecki R ADM Cindy Thebaud, USN (Ret.) Captain Raymond Thombs, Memorial Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation Christopher N. Thorpe Charles Tobin Capt. John Torjusen Steven J. Traut Russell R. Tripp Jacobina Trump CAPT Daniel E. Turbeville, USN (Ret.) Robert J. Tyd Sandra Ulbrich LT Bill Verge, USCG (Ret.) Terry Walton Dr. John Dix Wayman James R. Williamson RDML Jesse A. Wilson Jr., USN (Ret.) Woodson K. Woods

Ships of Glass, Inc.

 We specialize in making replicas of vessels. We welcome custom orders.

“Yes, I can make a replica of your boat.” 



Custom pendants and earrings

USCG Barque

Briglamp inial

Ships of Glass, Inc. Ships Glass, Inc. Don & of Kathy Hardy

21923 SunnysideDr. Lane om 6702 Rosemary able: cust City Beach, FL Also avail es, coasters, Panama Tampa, FL 33625 32413 Please check out il b our catalo o of vessels g jewelry, m dleholders, o n o Ph. 813 9181566 ur websit n w w e w . trivets, ca : .shipsofg re 813 7326917 ts and mo m. nightligh

“My ofice is illed with glorious maritime memorabilia, and the irst item people comment on is the captivating Ships of Glass replica of the Barque on my desk. Don Hardy is an extraordinarily talented artist, and his glass models are classy representations of our most beloved ships.” —





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