SEA HISTORY No. 171
NATIONAL MARITIME HISTORICAL SOCIETY
THE ART, LITERATURE, ADVENTURE, LORE & LEARNING OF THE SEA
The Sea Endures Hospital Ships
Nantucket’s Rainbow Fleet Running the Blockade in Banshee
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10 Fiddler’s Green “Wrap me up in me oilskins and jumper. No more on the docks I’ ll be seen. Just tell me old shipmates I’m taking a trip, mates, and I’ ll see you one day in Fiddler’s Green…” NMHS salutes the dear friends we have lost, as we remember them for their dedication and significant contributions to the maritime heritage community.
14 The Mayflower Factor: How They Became Us, and Does It Still Matter? by Jerry Roberts On the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth Rock, Jerry Roberts revisits the emigrants’ sea journey and its long legacy beyond the shores of Massachusetts. 22 Ships of Comfort and Mercy by Salvatore R. Mercogliano, PhD The US Navy hospital ships Comfort and Mercy have been in the news recently, dispatched to Los Angeles and New York to supplement the healthcare response during the COVID-19 crisis. Each is the third such hospital ship to bear its name, carrying on the tradition of offering assistance wherever it is needed.
28 Banshee—A New Kind of Blockade Runner by Kevin J. Foster During the Civil War, the Union blockade of southern ports forced Confederate merchants and their trading partners to get creative with shipping routes and the types of vessels used to carry cargo. The steel-hulled, British-built Banshee was an experimental new design that managed sixteen successful trips through the blockade. 32 The Origins of Nantucket’s Rainbow Fleet by Michael R. Harrison In the 1920s, the Nantucket Yacht Club commissioned a one-design catboat suitable for young people to race. While the boat’s popularity waxed and waned, it left an indelible impression on small-boat sailing on Nantucket.
nhhc, us navy
38 The Power to Transport: The American Society of Marine Artists’ 18th National Exhibition by Russ Kramer An exhibition not to be missed! But, like so many other best-laid plans impacted by the pandemic, the just-opened traveling national art exhibition is locked away in its first venue in Virginia. Catch a few examples of what you can expect to see when the museums and galleries re-open, with commentary by ASMA Fellows.
nantucket historical association
Cover: Relentless Sea, 24 x 36 inches, oil, by Donald Demers
DEPARTMENTS 4 Deck Log & Letters 8 NMHS: A Cause in Motion 36 Sea History for Kids
40 Ship Notes, Seaport & Museum News 44 Reviews 48 Patrons
Sea History and the National Maritime Historical Society Sea History e-mail: email@example.com; NMHS e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.seahistory.org. Ph: 914 737-7878; 800 221-NMHS MEMBERSHIP is invited. Afterguard $10,000; Benefactor $5,000; Plankowner $2,500; Sponsor $1,000; Donor $500; Patron $250; Friend $100; Regular $45. All members outside the USA please add $20 for postage. Sea History is sent to all members. Individual copies cost $4.95.
32 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 © 2020 by the National Maritime Historical Society. Tel: 914 737-7878. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sea History, PO Box 68, Peekskill NY 10566.
NATIONAL MARITIME HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The Sea Endures
ho could have guessed after our spring issue came out, chock full of museum news and upcoming public events to plan for and look forward to, that none of these grand plans would come to fruition. None. In those first few weeks of our world shutting down, while some were battling for their lives, so many were on the front lines as essential workers, and the rest of us battled for some sort of normalcy, I found that my walks down to our little cove near where we live brought me the greatest sense of calm. My dog, happily bounding after a squirrel or two, has been oblivious to all my concerns and worry. And the sight that I relied on most of all was watching the water—its motions seeming so mundane if you aren’t paying attention, and so complex if you are. Which brings me to the selection of our front cover. I have been at the helm of this magazine for just shy of seventeen years, and in that time we have never run a front cover that did not include an image of a ship or boat or, in two instances, notable figures from naval history. I mean, if Lord Nelson doesn’t deserve his own front cover—who would? For this issue, we had plenty of compelling images related to articles in this issue, but I kept coming back to the sea itself to convey a sense of continuity. The power we see in water and waves evokes strength, danger, beauty—embodying at once both permanence and constant change. What better image to represent these properties than Relentless Sea by artist Don Demers, a master of painting maritime scenes and the seas in particular. When I asked him if we could use his painting, he immediately sent a digital image along, as he has done before whenever we’ve asked. This little interaction is indicative of our relationship with the maritime heritage community as a whole, a relationship without which Sea History could not exist. All content in these pages by outside contributors is donated, and the willingness of historians, authors, artists, photographers, museum personnel, and professional mariners to work with us for no payment other than the greater good is something we have learned we can count on. We often use the term “shipmate” to refer to people in this community with whom we have not been to sea, but whose Relentless Sea by Don Demers readiness to lend a hand, do what is needed and what is right with no expectation of compensation is what shipmates do all the time. We are thankful for having good shipmates, and trust that we are good shipmates in return. Examples of this community of friends can be seen all over this issue. Our editorial advisory board member and a former merchant mariner, Professor Sal Mercogliano, when asked if he could produce an article on hospital ships for this issue on short notice, did so without any hesitation. Jerry Roberts’s article on Mayflower required considerable effort on his part to research and write, but also the collaboration of Mayflower historian James Baker and vetting and images from Plimoth Plantation and Mystic Seaport Museum. Our book reviewers, who get few accolades, are always ready to tuck into a new maritime book and share their take on it with Sea History readers, and our reliable group of colleagues who run maritime museums and sail training ships keep us apprised of what is going on in their neck of the woods (of the sea?). You can trust that when the COVID-19 crisis is behind us, Sea History will be here with its regular feature articles exploring what’s going on in the maritime heritage community, and with Ship Notes entries and a calendar page full of events, news, and activities we can enjoy. Until then, we continue in our mission to bring you the stories of our maritime past and to stay in touch with you, our members, and the rest of our shipmates around the country and across the seas.—Deirdre O’Regan, editor 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, William H. White; Secretary, Jean Wort; Trustees: Charles B. Anderson; Walter R. Brown; Christopher J. Culver; William S. Dudley; David Fowler; William J. Green; Karen Helmerson; Denise Krepp; Guy E. C. Maitland; Capt. Jeffrey McAllister; CAPT Sally Chin McElwreath, USN (Ret.); 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 (1930–2020) 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; Richard du Moulin; Alan D. Hutchison; Gary Jobson; Sir Robin KnoxJohnston; 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; Accounting/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.
SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
We Welcome Your Feedback!
Please email correspondence to email@example.com Q & A Regarding USS Olympia’s Armament and Hull Design
From John Brady, president and CEO, Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia, PA (steward of USS Olympia): USS Olympia was designed to be able to ram another ship with the bow sweeping forward and greatly reinforced. This area of the ship originally was a torpedo room, and in a subsequent refit the torpedo tube was removed and the area used as a pantry. The brig is also located here, possibly because it would be a very uncomfortable place to be. The stern also was fitted for torpedoes
independence seaport museum
note that the prows of both USS Olympia and US Revenue Cutter Algonquin sweep back from the waterline, and based on the graphic on page 21 of the Spring 2020 issue of Sea History, it appears that the Olympia’s stern sweeps forward from the waterline. This is the opposite of what I would consider the usual ship configuration. It looks to me like the Olympia’s length on deck might be shorter than her waterline length! And life in the foc’s’le would seem to be particularly unpleasant. Is there a functional reason for this design, or is it just a design quirk of late 19th-century steel vessels? I haven’t been in Philadelphia in years. But if I ever visit again, the Independence Seaport Museum will be high on my list of “must visits.” Paul J. Galanti Indianapolis, Indiana and these were removed during the same refit. I suspect the stern configuration may have had more to do with aesthetics than anything else.
have a question about the Olympia’s design. With a plumb bow, how would she behave in very rough seas? Modern warships sport a “flared” bow that increases buoyancy when diving into head seas. Any reason for the lack thereof? David Welles, via email
John Brady: The primary reason for the shape of Olympia’s bow is that she was designed to ram other ships. The forward part of the hull was reinforced with this in mind. In historic accounts of the ship underway, I don’t recall references to her being particularly wet forward. Any discomfort was due to her narrow beam. USS Olympia had a tendency to roll, especially when not deeply laden. In the age of steam, speed was obtained by using long, narrow hull forms.
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I heard from another source—something not mentioned in Mr. Brady’s article nor Ms. Green’s article on preserving her—that Olympia saw service during World War II as an escort and that at the time her 8-inch guns (and turrets) were removed and replaced, along with the existing 5-inch guns with more modern 5-inch weapons. After the war—but before she became a museum ship—the turrets and 8-inch guns were restored ... with fiberglass replicas? Is that correct? Clinton Collier Walnut Creek, California
haer photo, nps, library of congress
Beaufort Naval Armorers
From the editor: Yes and No. Olympia served in two wars—the Spanish-American War and World War I—during her 27-year service life as a US Navy warship. Her final mission as a commissioned naval vessel was in 1921 when she was sent to La Havre, France, to receive and carry home the casket bearing the Unknown Soldier of WWI for interment at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Olympia was decommissioned in 1922 and reclassified as a “naval relic” in 1941. She was brought to Philadelphia in 1958 and her ownership was transferred to the Cruiser Olympia Association. In 1996, the Independence Seaport Museum assumed ownership and stewardship of the vessel. According to a Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) survey in 1996, her original armament included: “four 8-inch rifles, ten 5-inch rifles, six torpedo tubes, fourteen 6-pounders, and six 1-pounders.” In 1910 her four 8-inch guns and turrets were removed. In their place is a sheet-metal fabrication, as seen here in this HAER photo from that same survey. SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
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A CAUSE IN MOTION Rising to the Challenge of COVID-19 t’s a challenge to find a suitable parallel from history to the massive disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic has created in our lives. So much of what we took for granted in 2019 may be gone forever. Those of us who work at the National Maritime Historical Society, while caring for our families and ourselves, are determined that this organization, America’s voice for our maritime heritage, will persevere. We will continue to share the stories of our seafaring past, and we are working harder than ever to provide resources to support and promote the maritime heritage institutions of today. Our maritime history is an important part of our American story, and it deserves our collective commitment to keep it alive in the consciousness of our citizenry.
With a record number of people going online for information and entertainment, the NMHS website has become an increasingly important resource for students, scholars, and general readers. In the first days of the quarantine, we suspended the membership requirement to view recent full issues of the magazine online, making every issue, from the first 40-page blackand-white issue that came out in April 1972
photo by ray ashley
photo by hank moseley
CLOSED. Signage at the entrance to the Maritime Museum of San Diego during the COVID-19 shutdown.
QUARANTINE. Foreign ships fly a yellow quarantine flag when clearing into a new country from sea. This photo shows the Q flag flown aloft aboard the schooner Virginia upon her arrival in Bermuda in 2009, Captain Nicholas Alley in command. We have vacated our headquarters in Peekskill, New York, as mandated by the governor, and we are dealing with new ways of running our operations, but our commitment to succeed during these unsettling times is unwavering. Part of this effort was the decision to prioritize that Sea History comes to you uninterrupted, and our staff and numerous contributors have worked overtime to present this 171st issue with the features you have come to enjoy and look forward to—marine art, Sea History for Kids, Ship Notes, and book reviews, and, of course, engaging articles from the many corners of our sprawling maritime world. 8
right up to this issue, available to everyone (www.seahistory.org/magazine). It’s a good time to introduce your friends, neighbors, and colleagues to the magazine and encourage them to join NMHS to receive the printed magazine delivered directly to their homes, as well as enjoy access to recent issues online once the membership requirement is reinstated. Many of the leaders in the maritime community tell me it is the one magazine they read cover to cover, and you want to hold it in your hands and carry it around to do that. In addition to the fully hyperlinked index (www.seahis tory.org/index), there are links to hundreds of useful websites for researchers on our Maritime History on the Internet page (written by Peter McCracken), digital photo collection sites on our Maritime Images webpage, more than 200 maritime museums and historic sites on our Museums page (www.seahistory.org/muse ums), our collection of Sea History for Kids features (www.seahistory.org/kids), and a new archive page for our Sea History Today email series (www.seahistory.org/ seahistorytoday).
One of the more rewarding and fun tasks we’ve had over the past few weeks has been to get the word out about all of the incredibly innovative and diverse ways that museums and other organizations are connecting with people at a time when their doors have been closed to visitors. We’re in awe of the creativity; museums have created virtual tours and spotlight features about special items in their collections. Organizations with educational programs are reaching out to young kids and students who can’t visit, with coloring pages, activities to do at home, videos, and learning modules. Many institutions have made entire collections or archives available online, and posted informative and entertaining lectures. Senior staff writer Shelley Reid published a sampling of these offerings in an April installment of Sea History Today, and a much more expansive list is on our website, at www.seahistory.org/museums online. The National Maritime Historical Society is here to connect you with this world. We have been here for more than a half century, and with your interest and support we will be here for another fifty years—and then we will just have begun our mission. —Burchenal Green, president SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
The National Maritime Historical Society Needs Your Support! Like so many maritime and other organizations throughout the world, the COVID-19 health crisis has had profound effects on the National Maritime Historical Society. As a long-established maritime organization with an institutional history that goes back nearly six decades, we’ve had our fair share of challenges. Once again, we’re adjusting our sails, making strategic changes to operations, and working together to weather these uncertain and stormy seas. Can we count on your support? If you love Sea History magazine and the work we do to promote our shared maritime heritage for sailors and scholars of all ages, please consider making a donation to the National Maritime Historical Society today. Especially during this challenging time throughout our world, we are grateful for your support, which preserves a legacy of knowledge and provides critical funding for Sea History magazine, online resources at www.seahistory.org, our ongoing educational initiatives including Sea History for Kids online and our documentary on Ernestina-Morrissey, the Society’s efforts to highlight the plight of historic ships in distress, and the conservation of the Society’s maritime library and collections—a treasure of scholarship, information, literature and lore. Use the attached envelope to mail in your contribution or Donate today at seahistory.org/donate
Not a member yet? Need to renew your membership? Sign up and join thousands of Americans in helping to preserve our maritime heritage. Our membership forms an active constituency, advocating for the recognition of our maritime traditions while working for positive changes for the future. Join us today at seahistory.org/join
Are you on our email list? Our list of subscribers is growing every day, but if it’s missing someone important—you!—please sign up today. Join thousands of fellow enthusiasts who are raising awareness of our seafaring heritage and creating a constituency to advocate for our maritime legacy. We look forward to having you in our crew! Sign up for our email list today at seahistory.org/signup
Thank you for your support, with best wishes from all of us at the National Maritime Historical Society. SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020 9
(l–r) NMHS Chairman Ronald Oswald, Chairman Emeritus Howard Slotnick, and President Burchenal Green wait to greet members before a tour of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, which kicked off the Society’s 50th annual meeting in New York City in 2013. 10
courtesy howard slotnick
courtesy howard slotnick
The trustees and staff of the National Maritime Historical Society mourn the loss of our dear friend and long-time shipmate, Howard Slotnick. Howard’s leadership, tireless efforts, and support were invaluable to NMHS, and to the entire maritime heritage community. Throughout his life, he acted on the unwavering belief that a deep understanding of history is the strongest foundation for the future. We miss him dearly, and we will strive to honor his legacy for generations to come. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Howard started sailing as a teenager on a friend’s boat. While he had built a successful business in automobile leasing, his love of sailing never diminished. For more than twenty years, he owned a beautiful 35-foot yawl named Carousel, in which he enjoyed sailing with friends and family in Long Island Sound and along the New England coast. A teenaged Howard Howard’s introduction to the National Maritime Slotnick striking sail. Historical Society came through an interaction with the late Peter Stanford, the Society’s president emeritus, at South Street Seaport Museum when it was still in its infancy. Peter signed Howard up for the Friends of South Street’s infamous one-dollar introductory membership. After a few meetings, he found himself recruiting interest for the museum at a local boat show, eventually joining the board in 1970, a position he would hold for nearly thirty years. In the early 1970s, as the nation was gearing up to celebrate its bicentennial, someone floated the idea of a tall ship festival in New York Harbor as a fitting celebration, to be modeled along the lines of the 1964 Operation Sail event. Howard flew to Europe Howard in front of his Bronx car dealership. on his own dime to recruit ships He was a pioneer in the automobile leasing to participate. His first stop was business. a tall ship event in the German port city of Travemünde, where he approached ship captains about crossing the Atlantic to join in the bicentennial event. Howard recalled: “The minute we said ‘New York,’ their eyes all opened up!” He traveled to England a year later, and in Portsmouth he got onboard the Russian training ship Kruzhenstern, the beginning of a lifelong special relationship with that ship. New York State Historian Emeritus and Sea History Editorial Advisory Board member Joe Meany recalls: “I think Howard was especially proud of his work on OpSail ‘86—‘Liberty Weekend’—the reopening of the Statue of Liberty. The Soviets sent Kruzenshtern, but she was utterly inadequately provisioned, so Class A Tall Ships from around the world berthed at when she arrived in New York, her crew was literally hungry. It fell to Howard South Street Seaport for OpSail ’ 76, including SSSM’s to find sufficient provisions to allow the ship to participate in the parade of tall flagship Wavertree (left side: gray topsides, red bottom ships and then make the return voyage to Saint Petersburg, then Leningrad. paint). USCG Barque Eagle is at right. Howard enlisted the help of his friend Norman Liss, a prominent Manhattan attorney, and together they pulled it off—and made a lot of Russian friends in the process.” Howard’s efforts were in no small part responsible for the success of the OpSail events that followed. In 2000 he served as chair of OpSail Miami, drawing fourteen major ships and hundreds of thousands of spectators. Howard became involved with the National Maritime Historical Society in its early years, becoming a trustee in 1976 and later serving as treasurer and chairman. His first stint as treasurer came during this early period in NMHS history: “I was a great treasurer. We had no money, though,” he would often say with a chuckle. Since that time, Howard has represented NMHS at outreach events all across the country and internationally. He could be counted on to step up whenever the need arose without hesitation.
photo by deirdre o’regan
nmhs file photo
photo by andrew snow photography
Howard Slotnick (1930–2020), NMHS Chairman Emeritus
SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
photo by allison lucas
Of all the ships Howard sailed with or helped preserve, or whose programs he supported, none were as close to his heart as the US Coast Guard Barque Eagle, which he came to know from his work with OpSail. He became an unofficial ship’s ambassador, getting to know and sailing with successive Eagle commanding officers over the years and in turn introducing them to captains of the other training ships when Eagle would be in foreign ports. He attended most, if not all, Eagle change-of-command ceremonies and many US Coast Guard Academy graduation ceremonies since his introduction to the ship. While he enjoyed the company of the wardroom, he was equally interested in and comfortable with cadets and crew. Fellow NMHS trustee and HowUSCG Barque Eagle ard’s dear friend Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., USCG (Ret.), a former Eagle captain, explained their relationship: “What did I have in common with a ADM Robert J. Papp Jr., USCG (Ret.), presents his good successful New York businessman, two friend Howard Slotnick with the NMHS David O’Neil decades my senior? Love of the sea... Sheet Anchor Award in 2014. and in particular, the Coast Guard’s barque Eagle. Howard became my dear shipmate afloat and ashore, and although old enough to be my father, he was the big brother I never had.” NMHS honored Howard in 1998 with the Society’s Distinguished Service Award, and in 2014 with the David A. O’Neil Sheet Anchor Award, in recognition of his extraordinary leadership in building the strength and outreach of the Society and in advancing its mission. Fair Winds Howard. You were one of a kind. Your absence is keenly felt by all of us at NMHS, and by all who value and cherish our maritime heritage. —Trustees, Staff, and Friends of the National Maritime Historical Society
Howard Slotnick Leadership Fund Celebrate Howard’s legacy with a matching gift to the National Maritime Historical Society
Howard Slotnick dedicated much of his life to the success and financial stability of the National Maritime Historical Society that he so loved, and his daughter Sharon has asked us to create a fund in his name to further his legacy. Please join us in supporting the Howard Slotnick Leadership Fund, chaired by his dear friend and shipmate, NMHS trustee and 24th Commandant of the US Coast Guard, Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., to carry forward the work that meant so much to Howard. We are grateful to announce that an anonymous friend of Howard and the Society has provided NMHS with a $50,000 matching gift, challenging Sea History readers like you to raise an additional $50,000 to match his generosity. This is an incredible offer that doubles the impact of your gift today and will provide enduring support for Sea History magazine, the NMHS website, and the Society’s educational initiatives. Contributing to the Howard Slotnick Leadership Fund both honors Howard and ensures that the National Maritime Historical Society’s mission, serving as America’s voice for our maritime heritage, continues. In order for your support to be doubled up to $50,000 in matching funds, simply donate online at www.seahistory.org/HowardSlotnick or use the bind-in envelope between pages 8 and 9 to mail in your tax-deductible gift. Thank you! SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020 11
Fiddler’s Green continued
courtesy the woods family
Woodson K. Woods III (1932–2020)
he world lost a great philanthropist, sailor, aviation enthusiast, and citizen when Woodson K. Woods crossed over the bar during the night of 14 February. Woody—or WK, as many knew him—was, above all, a gentleman. His accomplishments in both the worlds of sail and aviation will stand for all time as a monument to him. I first met him when he built the reproduction 1812 tops’l schooner Lynx, which was designed by his friend and longtime NMHS supporter, the late Melbourne Smith. I served for a time as an advisor to the ship and then on the board of the Lynx Foundation, during which time WK and I established an enduring friendship. Lynx was built at Rockport Marine in Maine
and launched in 2001 with 19th-century fanfare. From there she sailed south to the Panama Canal and on to her homeport in Newport Beach, California, where she served as a school ship, teaching the history of the War of 1812 through sails in the Pacific by a crew dressed in period costumes. His wife, Alison, was often involved in the activities of the ship, and his son Jeffrey was operations manager for the vessel. Lynx often sailed in company with Lady Washington in the Pacific Northwest and made at least two crossings to Hawaii, including racing in the TransPac yacht race in 2009. Lynx shifted coasts to the Atlantic about ten years later, where she still sails today out of Nantucket, though under different ownership. WK was a first-rate sailor in his own right. He was one of the rare present-day sailors to double Cape Horn, and he crossed the Pacific twice, once in a Westsail 32 and later in an Alden 57 yawl. After moving back to Hawaii in 2005, he commissioned another Melbourne Smith-designed vessel to be built at the same yard that built Lynx. The 32-foot yawl-rigged open boat was designed after an 18th-century pinnace and christened Imi Loa, Hawaiian for “explorer.” He had it shipped to Hawaii and last
year donated it to the Hawai’i Preparatory Academy for students to learn seamanship and small boat handling. His maritime accomplishments aside, Mr. Woods was a Category 1 sailplane pilot (one of the top ten rated pilots in the United States) and a top-rated sailplane racer, and he held an altitude record of 25,500 feet that stood Lynx for more than thirty years. With his son Chris, he restored vintage planes for museums and bought and restored the first Spitfire fighter in the United States. He built and oversaw the operation of the Carefree Flying Museum in Arizona and served on the board of the San Diego Air & Space Museum. In 1964, he was instrumental in founding the Royal Hawaiian Air Service, which some years later was bought out by a major airline. Once he shifted his operations from the West Coast to Hawaii, he continued, though not always in robust health, to sail and support local organizations through his philanthropy. He leaves a large family and a cadre of friends all over the country. He is greatly missed, but Lynx and Imi Loa sail on, fulfilling the mission he envisioned for them and for those who sail and learn from them. Aloha, my friend. —William H. White, NMHS Trustee
Charles A. Robertson was a ship captain, a champion sailor, a pilot, and a pioneer of the small ship luxury cruise industry in the United States, founding American Cruise Lines, Pearl Seas Cruises, Chesapeake Shipbuilding, and affiliated companies. He was a former NMHS trustee and a true friend of the maritime heritage community. Robertson worked to make sailing and the maritime industry more accessible, serving as chairman of Operation Sail 2000 and as a trustee of Mystic Seaport since 1989, in addition to his support of other maritime museums and non-profit organizations. He held a USCG-issued Master’s License and First-Class Pilot’s License (unlimited tonnage) and was a recognized expert on cruise ship regulation in the 12
United States and was involved in drafting maritime legislation. American Cruise Lines, the largest cruise company in the country today, offers cruises highlighting the rich history of inland waterways and coastal waters, with specialty themed cruises on the American Civil War, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the life of author Mark Twain. Destinations include the Mississippi River, New England, Canada, the Great Lakes, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, the US Southeast, and the Panama Canal. In 2016 the Society recognized Robertson with its Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his achievements in the maritime industry, for promoting American maritime history through educational
courtesy american cruise lines
Charles A. Robertson (1947–2020)
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cruise programming, for his leadership in OpSail 2000, and for his lifelong support of our nation’s maritime museums. An avid racing sailor from childhood, Robertson won many national and international events, including the Newport Bermuda Race, the Queen’s Cup, and the National Championship in the Atlantic Class in many different types of racing yachts, including the 73-foot Maxi Cannonball. In the 1980s he operated Williams & Manchester Yacht Builders in Newport, Rhode Island, which produced
Charlie was an American original. His cruise ships plied the waters of both coasts, and the rivers as well. He was one of a kind, a thorough gentleman, always ready with constructive opinions, and also a thoughtful listener. He was a loyal and irreplaceable friend to NMHS. —George W. Carmany III, NMHS Overseer four America’s Cup contenders. In 2016, in his later years, flying modified ex-milihe purchased the 12-meter yacht Freedom tary aircraft and participating in shows and (US-30), gave her a complete refit, and put demonstrations around the country. her back in the racing circuit. She was an Robertson was chairman emeritus of active competitor throughout the 2019 Operation Sail, Inc., and served on the World Championship series. boards of the New York Yacht Club, MysAn aviator and airline pilot for Shenan- tic Seaport, the Smithsonian National Air doah Airlines and Eastern Airlines earlier & Space Museum, and the Chesapeake Bay in life, Robertson returned to this interest Maritime Museum.
courtesy janet cussler
Clive Eric Cussler, celebrated author, internationally recognized authority on shipwrecks, founder and chairman of the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), and NMHS overseer, captivated millions with his bestselling tales of suspense and led scores of expeditions to find historic shipwrecks in the ocean depths.
NUMA first appeared as a fictional government organization that employed his book protagonist, Dirk Pitt. In 1979 Cussler founded the real-life National Underwater and Marine Agency, a private non-profit dedicated to “preserving maritime heritage through the discovery, archaeological survey, and conservation of shipwreck artifacts.” Cussler and his crew of marine experts have discovered more than sixty historically significant underwater shipwreck sites, including the Confederate submarine Hunley, and USS Housatonic; U-20, the U-boat that sank the Lusitania; USS Cumberland, which was
sunk by the famous ironclad, CSS Virginia (ex-USS Merrimack); and the Cunard steamship Carpathia, first to reach survivors of the Titanic, later sunk by German torpedoes off Ireland in 1918. In 1973 Cussler published his first novel featuring his recurring hero, Dirk Pitt, in The Mediterranean Caper. He wrote more than 85 books, reaching the New York Times fiction bestseller list over twenty times; they have been translated into more than forty languages. Raise the Titanic! (1976), his breakthrough novel, was adapted for a movie, released in 1980. His first non-fiction book, The Sea Hunters (1996, with Craig Dirgo), about exploring famous shipwrecks through his NUMA exploits, was made into a television documentary series featuring Cussler as narrator.
courtesy james delgado
Clive E. Cussler (1931–2020)
Mike Fletcher, James Delgado, and Clive Cussler during the production of The Sea Hunters episode about the Mary Celeste. guished Service Award in 2001 for his underwater research and successful efforts in locating CSS Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy vessel. Now in its own museum in Charleston, South Carolina,
Clive Cussler’s legacy is more than entertaining books and connecting people to the mysteries of shipwrecks and the stories they tell. He funded and participated in numerous searches, many of them successful. It is thanks to him that so many people have discovered powerful stories about the sea, ships, and the people associated with them. — James Delgado, PhD, maritime archaeologist, SEARCH, Inc. (co-host of The Sea Hunters)
Cussler grew up in Alhambra, California, and attended Pasadena City College for two years. He enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War and served as an aircraft mechanic and flight engineer in the Military Air Transport Service. Upon discharge, he became a copywriter and later creative director of two of the nation’s leading ad agencies. He wrote and produced radio and television commercials in Hollywood that won numerous international awards, including an award at the Cannes Film Festival. The National Maritime Historical Society recognized Cussler with its Distin-
the submarine provided Cussler with an unending supply of great adventures and stories. Clive Cussler was a great friend to the maritime heritage community, and a great speaker. The maritime heritage community got an opportunity to listen to him speak and ask questions when the National Maritime Alliance presented him with its first Maritime Heritage Conference Award of Distinction in Baltimore in 2010. He will be missed by the millions who loved his books and by everyone in the maritime field to which he so generously gave of his time and self.
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T he Mayf lower Factor
How They Became Us, and Does It Still Matter?
by Jerry Roberts
his year, as we reach the quadricentennial of the Mayflower’s arrival on the shores of Massachusetts and the introduction of the people we now call the Pilgrims into the American narrative, it is a good time to take a look at this incredible story and how this one voyage has impacted our nation and, indeed, our world. Amidst all the hoopla, however, some might ask an obvious question: In a nation of rapidly evolving demographics and diversified cultural identities, where the melting pot has done a lot of melting in the past 400 years, is the Mayflower story still actually relevant, and to whom? We all came here from somewhere else. Whether our ancestors migrated from Asia twelve thousand years ago, disembarked at Ellis Island, were transported on a slave ship against their will, landed at JFK airport, walked across the Canadian or Mexican borders, or stepped ashore on the windswept beaches of New England in 1620, every family has its own Mayflower story in one form or another. The Pilgrims and their descendants, of course, are no
more “American” than anyone else, including the hundreds of thousands of people who had established themselves here long before Europeans “discovered” North America. Pilgrims 1.1 The Mayflower story begins with a small group of religious dissenters who had separated from the established Church of England and fled to the Netherlands to worship freely. But after nine years of self-exile in Leiden, they feared they were losing their identity and decided to create their own settlement in the “New World,” where they could maintain their English identity, but worship as they chose. To achieve this goal, they would need permission from the Crown, and a patent from the Virginia Company of London—and, of course, funding. With money provided by a group of London-based investors known as the “merchant adventurers,” they formed a joint stock company. The investors would risk capital for the potential of financial reward from a monopoly on marketable goods and materials that would be
At Trans s ’ r e w o Mayfl
sent back from the colony. As their part of the bargain, the Leiden separatists would invest their time and effort to produce these commodities. The financers were only risking their money—the settlers would also be risking their lives. In order to bolster their numbers to establish a more viable colony, additional settlers, also eager for a chance to better their lot in the New World, joined the venture. Collectively they are now known as the Pilgrims, not to be confused with the Puritans who came to Dorchester by the thousands, beginning in 1630, and established the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The company secured a patent to establish a colony near the mouth of the Hudson River, at the northernmost end of the Virginia Colony, about 250 miles up the coast from the English settlement at Jamestown. While the King was not thrilled with religious dissenters (it was his church they were rejecting, after all), he was eager to get more English settlements established in the Americas to counter the growing regional ambitions of the Dutch and others.
ing os s r C c lanti
Speedwell Mayflower 14
map by brian d. andrews
Cape Cod Bay
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adobe stock image
Signing the Mayflower Compact, 1620
hopes of passing through Nantucket Sound, the ship’s master and part owner, Christopher Jones, decided to turn back and seek protection in Cape Cod Bay. They anchored inside the tip of Cape Cod, near what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts, on the 11th. Realizing they were now well outside the jurisdiction of the Virginia Colony, the leaders drafted the Mayflower Compact and it was signed by most of the adult males on board. This document is now recognized, along with the Magna Carta and
the United States Constitution, as one of the three most important documents in world history establishing self-government. The desperate search for a site to start building their settlement involved several expeditions ashore using small boats, sometimes wading waist-deep in the cold water, and some challenging encounters with the local indigenous people. The fact that the Pilgrims stole a Pamet family’s winter store of corn and disturbed two graves did not help matters any.
painting by jean leon gerome ferris 1899, courtesy library of congress
The Voyage The company purchased a small ship named Speedwell to transport the Leiden group back to England, where it would meet up with the others and then head out across the Atlantic in tandem with a larger vessel, the Mayflower, which had been chartered for the crossing. The Speedwell would remain with the Pilgrims, while the Mayflower would return to England. The two ships set off from Southampton on 5 August 1620, but problems with the Speedwell forced them to turn back and land at Dartmouth. The two vessels set off again on 23 August, but the Speedwell continued to have problems and forced the two ships to return—this time to Plymouth, England. At last, having written off the smaller ship, 102 passengers and approximately thirty crewmen set sail aboard the Mayflower on 6 September. It was already dangerously late in the season, and a series of storms put the passengers and crew through a grueling 66 days at sea. When at last they were in sight of the coast on 9 November, the ship was off Cape Cod, more than 230 miles northeast of their intended destination. After an attempt to sail through Pollock Rip in
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courtesy pilgrim hall
as thousands of additional English settlers began to pour into New England, life became more and more difficult for the indigenous population. In 1675 these conflicting dynamics erupted into what the English would call King Philip’s War. Casualties on both sides were staggering, and it hastened the further degradation of an ancient way of life for the indigenous peoples of New England and beyond. While most Americans celebrate Thanksgiving today as an extension of the Pilgrim legacy, to others it is understandably a day of mourning. The Mayflower Factor So, 400 years later: Does a handful of outcasts, only half of whom even survived their first three months ashore, really matter in a modern nation of more than 330 million people? They do. Like pennies invested in a bank with compound interest, generational mathematics can be staggering. Today, conservative estimates hold that more than ten million Americans—know it or not, like it or not—are direct descendants of one or more of the Mayflower Pilgrims. Some have suggested the number could be as high as 25–32 million! Within many of these vast family trees are a surprising number of people who have helped shape our nation, indeed the world we live in today. But what if things had worked out just a little bit differently? What if just a few more, even one or two, had not made it through that first winter. Would it matter now, four centuries later?
A Box of Bones Plymouth, Massachusetts, is strewn with statues and monuments honoring the Pilgrim legacy. The waterfront itself is dominated by the grand columned structure that dwarfs Plymouth Rock within. Moored nearby is the Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the ship that brought 102 men, women and children to this shore in 1620. Under the stewardship of Plimoth Plantation museum, the ship has attracted thousands of visitors annually for the past sixty years, and it has just gone through a nearly six-year, $10 million refit that will allow it to continue to do so.
A promising site was eventually identified on the western side of the bay, and the Mayflower sailed there, dropping anchor off Plymouth on 16 December. The process of building shelters ashore commenced immediately, but the effects of exposure and exhaustion soon began to take their toll. During their first winter ashore, nearly half of the passengers perished. Aboard the Mayflower, the crew suffered the same 50% casualty rate. The surviving group comprised a number of new widows, widowers, and orphans. More than half of the survivors were under sixteen. When the Mayflower departed for England on 5 April 1621, Captain Jones offered to take any of the survivors who wanted to return with him. Yet, despite the casualties and suffering, they all decided to stay. The Pilgrims had landed in the heart of Patuxet, a region already populated by large groups of indigenous Wampanoag people with their own millennia-old civilization. Tragically, the once-flourishing Wampanoag, on whose lands the Pilgrims settled, had themselves been decimated by illnesses carried across the ocean by earlier European explorers. The story of the Pilgrims’ interaction with the native people is far too complex to do it justice here, but it is nevertheless a story worth exploring. The Pilgrims were fortunate to receive critical assistance when they needed it the most, and built a positive relationship with Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag. But interactions with other tribes were not so harmonious. In the decades that followed,
Memorial statue of Gov. William Bradford in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Bradford became one of the best known of all those involved with the Mayflower story. He joined the separatist church as a teen and ended up as the Plymouth Colony’s long-term governor. But he came very close to perishing that first winter. As he lay near death with fever in the newly built storehouse that was being used to treat many of the stricken settlers, it caught fire and burned. He was rescued and was nursed back to health. On a personal note, if he had been one of the 51 who perished, the twelve generations leading through my father’s family to me would never have been born. I remind my kids of this every Thanksgiving. The math is that real. SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
Close by stands a bronze statue of William Bradford, the orphan from a small village in the English countryside who became a teenage separatist, a social revolutionary, a prisoner of the Crown, a fugitive, a Pilgrim, a colonial governor, and our nation’s first written language historian (notwithstanding the millennia-deep oral traditions of native peoples). Directly above Bradford looms Cole’s Hill, atop which stands another bronze statue. This one is not dedicated to the Mayflower or its passengers, but to the man who for a time held their fate in his hands. Massasoit, the Wampanoag sachem, could have easily destroyed the surviving Pilgrims or simply let them starve, but instead he ended up working out a mutually beneficial treaty with Bradford and others, which provided an environment within which the colony could survive and eventually succeed. Sadly, in the next generation that all came apart, leading to our nation’s first war and the eventual subjugation of its original inhabitants. There are many other statues and markers and significant locations, including the towering National Monument to the Forefathers in the hills above the town, and Burial Hill, where William Bradford and many others were laid to rest. Across the street from Plymouth Rock stands the monument to the Pilgrim Mothers, and further down on Court Street, Pilgrim Hall, the nation’s oldest continuously operated museum, which holds the artifacts of the original settlement, including bibles and weapons, and many iconic paintings of the Pilgrim saga. Three miles outside of town, Plimoth Plantation allows 21st-century visitors to step back into time and encounter the colony and its people as they were a few years after their 1620 arrival, and meet contemporary Native educators who share the history and culture of the Patuxet Wampanoag.
The crypt on Cole’s Hill But by far the most poignant of all of these grand tributes and monuments lies back up on Cole’s Hill, just a few yards from Massasoit’s bronze feet. Here, overlooking the harbor, Plymouth Rock, Bradford, and the Mayflower II, stands a simple edifice that silently tells a powerful story to those willing to stop and do the math. It’s not the oft-told story of Thanksgiving with buckle-shoed Pilgrims eating turkey with cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. It looks more like a sarcophagus—a tomb. In fact, it is a tomb. Buried here within a small zinc box are a handful of bones unearthed long after the hill had been used as the colony’s first burial ground. Set into the sides of the crypt with patinaed bronze letters are the names of the men, women, and children who reached New England but who did not survive the first winter to celebrate the much-storied first Thanksgiving the following autumn. While the other plaques, statues, and monuments celebrate the beginning of a “new” England and the nation that grew from it, this solemn edifice marks the end of the story for these individuals. These names represent those who had sacrificed years of exile and months at sea, only to have their Mayflower adventure end on the shores of this tenuous beachhead far from home. The mathematical equation is astoundingly clear. Of the 102 passengers who set sail aboard the Mayflower on 6 September 1620, only 51 survived the first year. These figures vary depending on exactly who, and when, you are counting, but fifteen generations later, as the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival is being observed, the names on Cole’s Hill represent literally milMassasoit statue in Plymouth, MA
lions of future Americans who were never born, their family trees severed before any roots could take hold on the shores of Plymouth Bay. Who knows how these people might have altered our history, our culture, or contributed to science, medicine, leadership, war and peace. We will never know. We do know a lot more about those who survived. Of these, only 28 produced offspring to carry on into a second Mayflower generation who, in turn, created their own family trees that would eventually help build a new nation that has changed the world, and the course of history forever. Not my Story? With only 28 progenitors, no wonder most people think of Mayflower descendants as an elite little club. Relevance? The General Society of Mayflower Descendants has registered a total of only 95,000 members since its inception in 1897. That is a pretty small group indeed. The fact is, the vast majority of Mayflower descendants have no idea they have the DNA of a handful of survivors flowing through their veins. Even the most conservative estimate of 10 million means that at least one in every 33 Americans is a direct descendant of one or more of the Mayflower Pilgrims. The higher estimates would of course make this number substantially larger. Because of the multicultural demographics that would evolve over the generations that have followed, these descendants are in fact a true cross section of our national melting pot. Some very simple math reveals the basics of how family trees grow. We each have two biological parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents, sixteen great-great grandparents, etc. A Mayflower descendant born in 2000 might well be a 13th-generation descendant of William Bradford, and, likewise, Bradford would be only one of their 2,028 tenth-great grandfathers. It’s the same for all of us, and that means we all have tens of thousands of ancestors and family stories we probably know little or nothing about. We should all do a bit more climbing around in our own family trees. What might our world look like if the math on Cole’s Hill had been different, if a few of those who survived had not. What would our world look like without nine US
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library of congress
(above) President and General Ulysses S. Grant, (right) award-winning journalist and author Cokie Roberts, and (below) aviator Amelia Earhart were all direct descendants of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren, as was “Little House” author Laura Ingalls Wilder (top right).
library of congress
presidents—including founding father and second president, John Adams, or his son John Quincy Adams? What about Zachary Taylor, or Ulysses S. Grant? How would the Second World War have turned out without FDR or Winston Churchill, neither of whom would have been born if one or two pivotal Pilgrims had not survived? Would we have missed Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, Bing Crosby, Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Baldwin brothers, and of course several million other Americans?
Three Pivotal Pilgrims Whose Survival Changed the World John Alden was an unintentional Pilgrim. He was the 21-year-old cooper hired in England to manage the barrels in which all the provisions were stored during the voyage. Their survival depended on his skills. Alden survived the terrible three months in which half of the passengers and crew perished. Despite the grim conditions, Alden chose to stay with the Pilgrims when the Mayflower sailed back to England. If he had not chosen to cast his lot in with these people, whose cause was not his, six presidents, including John Adams and FDR, would never have been born. Priscilla Mullins was in her late teens when she boarded the Mayflower with her parents and younger brother. Within three months she was the only survivor of her family group. Nonetheless, she elected to remain with the others when the Mayflower returned to England, and two years later she married John Alden. They would produce ten children and one of the largest groups of descendants of all the Mayflower passengers. If she had died along with her family or returned to England with the Mayflower, General Ulysses S. Grant, who helped Lincoln save the Union, would never have been born, and neither would have FDR and six other presidents, or Longfellow, who made Priscilla the star of his famous poem, the “Courtship Of Miles Standish.” SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
courtesy mystic seaport museum
Mayflower II I have been aboard the Mayflower II many times over the past forty years at her dock in Plymouth, Massachusetts, but this past February, climbing down the companionway into her cargo hold, as her multi-year refit was nearing completion in Mystic, Connecticut, was a different experience. The smell of fresh linseed oil and pine tar
John Howland: If Harry Potter was the boy who lived, John Howland was certainly the man who should have died. During the transAtlantic crossing, he was swept overboard during a storm. By a stroke of luck, a loose line was trailing off the side of the ship. He grabbed it and managed to hold on, despite being dragged underwater at several knots. Against all odds, two crewmen saw the mishap and were able to haul him back aboard with nothing but his grip separating him from certain death in the open ocean. He would become an important part of the community as it began to stabilize and eventually thrive. It was also because he survived that his brother Arthur came over from England and joined the community several years later. This brother set down his own line of descendants, which eventually included Jennie Jerome, the American heiress who would marry Lord Randolph Churchill in 1874 and give birth to Winston Churchill that same year. Churchill would also never have been born if another Pilgrim, surgeon Samuel Fuller, had not survived.
Allies in World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill are 8th cousins twice removed and descendants of Plymouth Colony Pilgrims. transported me into a different era, and I could once again imagine 102 men, women, and children cramped here, doing their best to endure their 66-day crossing from the old world to the new. But with tools still scattered about and unfinished projects being attended to, I was reminded that this is also a modern story. A few days earlier, I had met with Quentin Snediker, director of the Henry B. duPont Preservation Ship-
yard at Mystic Seaport Museum, where the work has been carried out. We talked about the monumental undertaking and of the unique opportunity that projects like this provide to pass along centuries-old skills to new generations of craftsmen. A few days later, I was making my way through the ship with Whit Perry, Mayflower IIâ€™s captain. These two men, together with their teams of professionals and volunteers, have spent the better part of the past six years overseeing the daunting logistics of breathing new life into this iconic ship. The partnership between these two institutions, both dedicated to keeping history alive through authentic first-hand experiences, is something all of us who value and support maritime history should be grateful for. Although this is obviously Mayflower II was restored at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport and relaunched in September 2019 with great fanfare, which included a rechristening by Harriet Cross, British Consul General to New England; keynote speech by bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick; and the leadership of Plimoth Plantation and the Mashpee Wampanoag nation.
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mayflower ii photos courtesy plimoth plantation
Mayflower II was built in Brixham, England, and launched in 1956.
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not the original vessel that brought the Pilgrims here 400 years ago, it now has a well-earned history of its own and should not be dismissed as some modern replica or attraction vessel. Like other recreated historic ships, including those at Jamestown Settlement in Virginia, it serves as a living, breathing time machine. Built of wood and rigged with iron, bronze, rope, and canvas, ships like these are keeping old skills alive and teaching us all about the evolution of seafaring technology upon which much of the progress of our modern world has depended. Mayflower II was built in Brixham, England, over a 14-month period by master shipbuilder Stuart Upham and his team of Devon craftsmen, and launched in September of 1956. Its backstory is pretty incredible in its own right. In 1947, as Henry Hornblower was creating Plimoth Plantation, a place where 20th-century visitors can come face to face with a recreation of the Pilgrims’ early settlement, he also envisioned building a replica of the Mayflower itself. He hired naval architect William A. Baker to research and design a credible reproduction of the iconic ship. Baker had no plans from which to work, but started with the slim description offered by Pilgrim leader William Bradford in his epic account of the settlement, Of Plymouth Plantation. There had also been some deductive research done by maritime historian R. G. Marsden in the early 1900s in an attempt to narrow down which of the many ships named Mayflower might have actually carried the Pilgrims in 1620. There was nothing spectacular about the original ship. It was operated by its master and part owner, Christopher Jones, between England and North Sea ports. It was just another working merchant vessel, in this case designed to carry up to 180 tuns of cargo, typically wine. The word tun, by the way, was a measure of capacity, not weight, based on a specific size of large cask. Coincidentally, across the Atlantic, Englishman Warwick Charlton had founded Project Mayflower. Charlton had served alongside American forces during World War II and wanted to honor the strong bonds between the two nations. When he heard about Baker’s work, he contacted Hornblower and the two projects were
serendipitously merged. Baker supplied the plans, and Project Mayflower raised the funds and built the vessel. On 20 April 1957, Mayflower II set sail from Plymouth, England, under the command of legendary Australian mariner Alan Villiers. Near the end of the 54-day crossing, as the ship approached the New England coast, it encountered a violent squall. With no manual on how to handle a 17th-century vessel under these conditions, Villiers remembered that Bradford had written that when Christopher Jones met similar conditions he lay the ship ahull, sails down and the tiller lashed to leeward, keeping the bow off the wind by about 45 degrees instead of trying to fight the seas head on, or run before it, under power (similar to heaving to under sail). It worked, and Villiers and his crew aboard Mayflower II arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts, on 13 June 1957 to a massive reception; the ship settled into its new home, moored at the heart of the Pilgrim universe within sight of Plymouth Rock. By 2013, Mayflower II had welcomed more than 20 million visitors in Plymouth and during visits to several ports along the Eastern Seaboard. Wooden ships, however, are perishable, and despite decades of regular maintenance and repairs, it was clear that the ship needed more than a patch-up to remain afloat, let alone play an active role in the 2020 quadricentennial, or serve another 60 years for that matter. It needed a major rebuild from stem to stern, from keel to top-masts. Plimoth Plantation chose to have the work done at the shipyard at Mystic Seaport Museum, which had recently completed an extensive restoration of the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan and which maintains the museum’s fleet of historic vessels. Not only were the facilities and expertise available at Mystic Seaport a perfect fit for the Mayflower project, but the two institutions share compatible missions, and the shipyard work could be done in view of the public on the museum’s campus. Mayflower II was brought to Mystic Seaport Museum in December 2014 to begin the first phase of her restoration, which included comprehensive survey and inspection work, requiring the removal of the ship’s 130 tons of ballast, as well as some
hull work and extensive re-caulking to enable the ship to return to Plymouth for the summer of 2015. She returned to Mystic for the winter of 2015–16, then back to Plymouth for the summer. In November 2016 she returned to Mystic Seaport, where she would remain for the next three and a half years undergoing the most comprehensive rebuild in her history. More than 70 percent of the ship has been laboriously and faithfully refabricated, including frames, knees, planking, and masts. It took numerous expeditions to locate and secure the quantities and varieties of wood required for the project. This included timber from Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, and even Denmark. Meanwhile, the vessel’s standing and running rigging, with all of the associated deadeyes, chain plates, etc. was either restored or replaced. Of course, none of these elements can be bought off the shelf. They were all painstakingly fabricated by hand. The difference between the vessel that came out of the water at Mystic in 2014 and the one that was relaunched and officially rechristened in September 2019 is a dramatic reincarnation of the original (1956) ship and is a testament to the two incredible institutions and craftsmen that pulled it off. The ship is now ready to sail on into the 21st century and inspire new generations, telling old stories that still impact who we are, even now. Mayflower II was built as a reproduction of a physical ship from hundreds of years ago, but at 64 years old she has become a historic vessel in her own right and will be seeking National Historic Landmark status after her return to Plymouth in 2020. Jerry Roberts is a writer and historian who has served in leadership and creative roles with several major museums over the past 35 years. He has written several books, documentaries, and articles, and has been a longtime contributor to Sea History. Roberts is an avid mariner and storyteller, and by chance, is a descendant of William Bradford. Learn more at jerrypaulroberts.com. For updates on Mayflower 400th anniversary commemoration events, visit: www.mayflower sails2020.org, www.plimoth.org, and in the UK, www.mayflower400uk.org.
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Ships of Comfort and Mercy by Salvatore R. Mercogliano, PhD
They never billeted a better crew That sailed out of any port, Than that which carried the wounded through The war zone—on the new “Comfort,” I’d stake my life on anyone Of my shipmates on that ship, From early Morn to setting sun, On land, in port, or ocean trip.
We’ve filled high-up her cargo-decks Brimful with healing medical stores For wounded, sick, and dying wrecks, Balms of Gilead for battle sores. We’ll sail full blast, with all lights on Through the sub-infested zone, And we carry not a blessed gun. – Fate alone, will bring us home!
—William Nelson Morell, Rhymes of the Fleet (1918) SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
rappling with the outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), in March the federal government authorized the mobilization and deployment of medical units to assist in the response and to ease medical overloading in two of the cities hardest hit in the early weeks of the crisis. The most visible demonstration of this effort was the deployment of the two US Navy hospital ships on each coast, the United States Naval Ship (USNS) Mercy, based in San Diego, and USNS Comfort, out of Norfolk. Mercy arrived in Los Angeles on 27 March and docked near the museum ship USS Iowa at Berth 87. Comfort moored at Pier 90 in New York City, near USS Intrepid. Their arrival marked a moment of temporary relief in a nation gripped with a pandemic. This pair of ships is the third set of hospital ships carrying these names to have supported the nation in times of war and emergencies.
images courtesy naval history and heritage command and us navy photo collection
Comfort (AH-3) & Mercy (AH-4) On 6 April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the congressional resolution announcing a state of war between the United States and Imperial Germany. Four days earlier, he had addressed a joint session of Congress and laid out the issues before them. While many today attribute the tele-
SS Havana before her conversion to service as a hospital ship.
gram by German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmerman to the government of Mexico as the casus belli, the bulk of Wilson’s speech detailed German attacks on American shipping. The decision by the Kaiser’s government to resume unrestricted submarine warfare on 1 February 1917 and the subsequent sinking of ten American merchant ships and the deaths of sixty-four crewmen were at the heart of Wilson’s statement. Recognizing that it would be months or possibly years before the United States could field a sizeable army in Europe, emissaries from Great Britain and France asked President Wilson to dispatch a token force to demonstrate American involvement in the conflict. Wilson directed Secretary of War Newton Baker and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to dispatch the vanguard of an American Expeditionary Force under the command of General John J. Pershing to Europe as soon as possible. US Army forces engaged in the hunt for
Pancho Villa on the Mexican border were redeployed to Hoboken, New Jersey, where they would board ships for the transAtlantic crossing. The Navy organized the escort forces to ensure their safe passage. To ship 15,000 troops and 40,000 tons of supplies to Europe, the Army chartered fourteen ships, organized into four groups. The first included a pair of ships from the New York and Cuba Mail Steam Ship Company, commonly referred to as the Ward Line. SS Havana and SS Saratoga were built at William Cramp & Sons in Philadelphia and entered service in 1907. These twin-stack passenger liners, 429 feet in length and approximately 10,000 tons, had been providing regular service between New York and Havana. On 23 May 1917, the US Army chartered both vessels as part of the first convoy of American troopships heading to France. Cargo spaces were converted into temporary troop berthing, cooking and lavatory facilities, weapons were installed, and US Navy armed guard detachments were embarked. On 14 June, after loading elements of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division a few days earlier, they departed under the escort of the armed cruiser Seattle with Rear Admiral Albert Gleaves, commander of American convoy operations, onboard, and protected by a quartet of American destroyers. A few days out from France, Havana reported a suspected submarine attack when two torpedoes were sighted close aboard. Offloaded onto French soil, the troops were hurried into camps near the port of St. Nazaire, while one element was sent to Paris to march in formation down the Champs-Élysées. In a speech referring to the arrival of the American troops in the French capital, Colonel Charles E. Stanton exclaimed “Lafayette, we are here!” With Surgery onboard a hospital ship, 1918.
SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020 23
(left) SS Saratoga as a passenger liner in 1909. She and her sister ship, SS Havana, were chartered by the US Army to carry troops to France in 1917. After the completion of this duty, they were purchased by the US Navy and converted into hospital ships. SS Saratoga was renamed and commissioned as USS Mercy (AH-4). At right is Havana after her conversion, commissioned as USS Comfort (AH-3), ca. 1918. the troops ashore, the ships returned to New York for a new assignment. In mid-1917, the plan for the disposition of the US Navy was in doubt and it appeared that portions of the fleet might be based in both the United States and in European waters. Such a deployment would mean that medical support would be needed beyond the limited capabilities of the Navy’s sole hospital ship, Solace. Based on that assessment, the Navy purchased Havana on 19 July 1917 for $2,240,000. Taken in hand at the New York Navy Yard, just five miles from where USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) docked in Manhattan in 2020, the John N. Robins Company oversaw the conversion of the passenger liner/troop ship into a naval hospital ship, renamed USS Comfort (AH-3). The resulting ship was remarkable for its time, having the capability to handle 500 patients, with an operating suite, an x-ray machine, and multiple laboratories on board. She was also the first Navy vessel to have women assigned aboard, with seven nurses serving as a component of their crew. While Havana was in the shipyard, SS Saratoga was preparing for another ocean crossing in July 1917. She embarked elements of the Army’s Base Hospital 8 and awaited her convoy off Staten Island. On board, Army nurse Amy Florence Patmore recounted her experience while still at anchor on 30 July 1917: The day was desperately hot and after luncheon most of the nurses removed their heavy uniforms and were lolling about in their cabins 24
in all degrees of déshabille. Suddenly there was a crash and a terrific shock…The ship immediately began to list, and orders were given to abandon ship at once. There was no hysteria among the nurses. Half-clad as they were, they took their places in the boats…A government boat finally collected and carried us back to quarters on board the Finland… We learned that seventeen minutes after the last person had left the ship, the Saratoga submerged. With her went not only our personal belongings but our entire hospital equipment. Saratoga had been struck by the inbound SS Panama and suffered damage on her port quarter and began flooding. Vessels nearby came to her assistance and managed to beach the ship in the mud so she could be salvaged later. With the need for further medical assets afloat, the Navy purchased the Saratoga for the same price as Havana and sent her to the New York Navy Yard for repairs and conversion for her new role. Renamed USS Mercy, she preceded her sister ship into commission on 24 January 1918, with Comfort following on 18 March. By then, shoreside naval medical facilities had been established in Europe, so Mercy sailed to the Chesapeake Bay, while Comfort remained in New York City. When the Armistice was signed on 11 November, both ships were sent to assist in the transfer of wounded combat personnel and those infected with the Spanish flu (H1N1).
Comfort completed three voyages and transported 1,183 personnel, with Mercy finishing four voyages and carrying 1,977 souls. After the war, Mercy remained on the East Coast. Based out of Philadelphia, she was eventually decommissioned in 1929. She had a brief reprieve during the Great Depression, when she was transferred to the Emergency Relief Administration to be used as a shelter for some of the homeless who were living near the navy base. She met her fate in 1939, as scrap in Baltimore. Comfort had a much more interesting journey. After the war, she sailed to Mare Island, California, for an extensive machinery overhaul, but once she arrived, she was deemed excess and decommissioned in 1921 and sold four years later. In 1927, the Ward Line re-acquired her under her old name and put her back in service running passengers between New York and Cuba. With Prohibition in full swing, the route was a busy one, as a lot of Americans were motivated to change their latitude and enjoy an alcoholic beverage while daydreaming in Havana. The ship ran aground in the Bahamas in 1935 and a passenger died in the event. After her salvage, she was renamed Yucatán and continued in passenger service until 1940, when the Ward Line assigned her to the Atlantic, Gulf & West Indies (AGWI) Steamship Lines. Renamed Agwileon, she was being converted to carry cargo when she capsized and sank at the dock. The Second World War made every ship a valuable commodity, and Agwileon was raised, repaired, and put back into service. On 18 April 1942, the United States SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
Maritime Commission requisitioned all ships in the US merchant marine; Agwileon was taken over and subsequently assigned to the Army. She was used as a troopship between New York and the Mediterranean. Upon her return to the United States in June 1943, she was sent to the Atlantic Basin Iron Works in Brooklyn, New York, where she was converted again—this time back into a hospital ship. Since a new ship named Comfort was already in service, she was renamed US Army Hospital Ship (USAHS) Shamrock. Nearly 20,000 patients were transported home to the United States from the Mediterranean aboard Shamrock. With peace in Europe, the ship was sent to South Carolina in April 1945 to be modified at the Charleston Navy Yard for operations in the Pacific. She arrived on the West Coast in October 1945, but the end of the war led to her inactivation in the Suisun Bay reserve fleet in 1946 and her scrapping two years later. Comfort (AH-6) and Mercy (AH-8) When USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) docked at the Los Angeles Cruise Center in the shadow of the Vincent Thomas Bridge, in many ways she was returning home. Just north of the bridge, at the current site of the Trapac Container Facility in the West Basin of the Port of Los Angeles, once stood the Consolidated Steel Corporation. At its peak, it employed 12,000 people. On 29 May 1942, Consolidated Steel received a
contract from the US Maritime Commission to build eight C1-B-class freighters in their Wilmington yard. A month later the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed the Navy to acquire three ships to be operated by them for the Army, for the evacuation of sick and wounded from overseas. Two of the hulls, Nos. 1021 and 1022, along with one from an earlier contract under construction at the neighboring facility in Long Beach, were designated for conversion into hospital ships. On 25 March 1943, hull 1022 hit the water, christened by Lieutenant (junior grade) Doris M. Yetter, US Navy Nurse Corps, who had been captured on Guam in 1941. The ship lacked a superstructure, and the incomplete hull was towed across to the present site of the West Basin Container Terminal. Back then, it was the Los Angeles Shipyard. On 7 August 1944, the newly commissioned USS Mercy (AH-8) joined the fleet. Both Comfort and Mercy, along with their other sister ship, USS Hope (AH-7), served during the latter part of the Pacific War, specifically in the Philippines and Okinawa campaigns. Although operated by the Naval Transport Service, the ships embarked Army medical staffs. They were designed to load patients after treatment from primary care facilities and then deliver them to shore facilities away from the front lines. Both Comfort and Mercy arrived off the beaches of Leyte, shortly after the landings. Mercy shuttled between the Philippines and shore hospitals in Manus and Hollandia. Comfort operated to the latter and included one trip all the way back to the West Coast of the United States. On her initial voyage, she was attacked by a Japanese aircraft during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, but escaped damage. The two ships supported Army operations in the Philippines until the Spring of 1945, when they were attached to the 5th Fleet for the invasion of Okinawa. Both would shuttle wounded from the front to the Marianas. While Mercy completed three voyages, Comfort only accomplished one, but it proved deadly. Crew and medical personnel on deck of USS Comfort (AH-6) on 21 June 1944, before their departure for the Pacific Theater. Comfort’s predecessor (AH-3) was the first US Navy ship to have women serving onboard.
A patient is carried aboard Mercy (AH-8) off Mios Woendi, near New Guinea, ca. 1944–45. On 29 April 1945, just six days after arriving on station, she departed, loaded with wounded from Operation Iceberg. At 8:41pm, while 50 miles southeast of Okinawa, and illuminated to display her white hull, green horizontal line along her hull, and large red crosses, one of the Japanese “floating chrysanthemums,” or kamikaze suicide planes, crashed into the amidships section of the ship. With no defensive weapons and only the protection of the Geneva Convention, the ship took a deadly hit. The plane crashed through three decks and exploded in the surgical suite, which was fully occupied. The ship lost a total of 28 personnel, including six nurses and six doctors, along with 48 wounded. In the ship’s surgery, Second Lieutenant Evelyn Bacheler was one of the few survivors: I was the only woman able to walk out of the surgeries. I was in surgery on the night of April 28, administering the anesthetic. I heard the plane fly over the first time, and it sounded awfully close, but I wasn’t frightened. Then there was a terrific crash. I remember thinking it was a bomb—that it had to be a bomb. The oxygen tanks went then. When they blew up, well, I don’t know whether they were the cause, or the concussion…You just can’t visualize how ghastly the whole thing was—patients, doctors, corpsmen—how helpless you feel. All the way to the hallway I could hear myself screaming the girl’s names. I thought everyone must be dead.
SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020 25
Comfort was able to extinguish the fires, and since the hit was above decks, there was no danger of flooding. The ship docked at Guam to offload her wounded and she sailed for her home port of Los Angeles for repairs. After they were completed, she served as a station hospital ship in Subic Bay, while Mercy performed a similar function in Manila. With the war over, both were decommissioned in 1946 after each earned two battle stars. The ships found a second life as training vessels for young merchant mariners. Comfort served from 1953 to 1962 as the training ship for Maine Maritime Academy, while Mercy did the same for New York Maritime from 1956 to 1960. The sisters met their end in scrap yards within a few years of each other. USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) More than four decades passed before similarly named vessels took to the sea again as hospital ships. As the United States ramped up its opposition to the Soviet Union and Iran in the 1980s, the Navy had a fleet goal of 600 ships. As part of this build-up, the Navy undertook a series of programs to increase its ability to deploy forces around the world, but an issue remained about how to handle the wounded from a conflict. The last remaining US Navy hospital ships were converted C-4 Haven-class freighters, left over from the Second World War. Two of them—USS Repose (AH-16) and Sanctuary (AH-17)—served in the USNS Mercy (T-AH 19)
Vietnam War and the latter remained on the Navy’s roll, but her reliability and utility were questionable. To support the new Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, what later became Central Command, the Navy needed a ship capable of receiving patients from the battlefield and providing on-site emergency and recuperative care. In addition to its medical capabilities, it had to be able to operate in nearly any condition or sea state. Two San Clemente-class T-8-class supertankers, SS Worth and SS Rose City, were acquired for this role. Originally owned by Apex Marine as part of an eleven-ship class built at the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) in San Diego, they were 894 feet in length with a beam of 105’ 9” and drew 32’ 9”—the maximum dimensions allowed to transit the Panama Canal. In 1984, NASSCO started the work to convert the two ships for this new role. Renamed Mercy and Comfort, the ships were delivered in 1986 and 1987 respectively. Unlike their earlier sisters, these ships harkened back to the earliest Navy hospital ships: they were assigned to the Military Sealift Command, with a civilian master and the Navy commanding the onboard medical treatment facility. At over 69,000 tons, the ships were the largest vessels in the US Navy except for the nuclear aircraft carriers and were capable of reaching 17.5 knots. With an operating crew of 70 civilian mariners and 1,200 medical personnel drawn from hospitals and facilities ashore when deployed, each of the new vessels was akin to any modern shore-based hospital. Each ship
had on board a CT scanner, four radiology suites, twelve operating rooms, an isolation ward, eighty intensive care beds, and a total capacity for a thousand patients. After conducting an exercise to the Philippines in 1987, USNS Mercy went into a reduced operating status on the West Coast. USNS Comfort was sent to her new home port on the East Coast, Baltimore, Maryland. On 7 August 1990, the United States announced its intention to defend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from potential Iraqi aggression following that nation’s invasion of Kuwait. Mercy and Comfort would serve in the Persian Gulf until March 1991, supporting both Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Comfort alone treated more than 8,000 patients, and both were on duty during the initial strikes and for the abortive amphibious assault against Kuwait. In 1994, Comfort was called upon to serve as a migrant processing center for Haitian refugees off Kingston, Jamaica. Later that year, she was involved in Operation Uphold Democracy directly in Haiti. But for these operations, the two hospital ships were largely dormant for the 1990s. That all changed on September 11th, 2001. The destruction brought upon New York City by the 9/11 terrorists led to Comfort’s activation as part of Operation Noble Eagle. As the ship arrived in the harbor three days after the attack, Comfort’s navigator, Second Mate Sean Tortora, noted: “The Twin Towers are actually a navigational landmark on my charts… I was struck by the fact that they were no longer there.” First Mate James White recalled, “I remember standing on deck to tie Comfort up and smelling smoke. Even more chilling were the pieces of paper that were flying through the air.” Comfort moored at Pier 92, near where she docked at Pier 90 this March. A year and a half later, she was back in the Persian Gulf for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following Comfort’s return from her second war, both ships were dispatched for two massive natural disasters. In 2005, Comfort sailed to the Gulf of Mexico in response to Hurricane Katrina, and Mercy headed to Indonesia to assist in the recovery from the “Boxing Day Tsunami.” Both ships delivered vital aid and humanitarian SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
relief. After these actions, the decision was made to use the vessels in rotating yearly exercises. On most even years, starting in 2006, Mercy sailed on humanitarian voyages under the Pacific Partnership exercises, while Comfort did the same during odd years as part of Continuing Partnership/ Enduring Promise. The ships were also called for a variety of other missions. Comfort sailed to Haiti in 2010 following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017, and off the north coast of Venezuela after the 7.3 magnitude earthquake that hit there in 2018. Comfort’s last mission, Enduring Promise 19, took her to twelve countries in 154 days during 2019. During that deployment, her medical crew performed 1,257 surgeries, 9,547 dental appointments, and 26,838 optometry examinations, and saw a total of 68,935 patients. Mercy echoed that performance the year before in the Far East over the course of five months. In early 2020, Mercy was preparing for its next Pacific Partnership mission, while Comfort underwent routine mainte-
nance. Previous plans to lay up Comfort in 2018 had gone by the wayside, and it was envisioned to keep the ships in service until replacements could be built in the late 2030s, at which point the ships would be close to sixty years old. As of this printing, both ships remain on call to meet the nation’s medical needs caused by the global pandemic. Tasked with treating non-COVID-19 patients to alleviate the burden upon regional hospitals, its shipboard medical personnel have provided relief to local medical staff and facilities from a constant stream of patients. When Comfort departed Manhattan on 30 April for its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, it had only treated 182 patients on board during its stay in New York, but the ships remain ready to relocate where assistance is needed as this crisis continues, and protocols are adapted to the changing situation. Throughout their histories, ships named Comfort and Mercy have served this nation well, from the original pair of ships that treated victims of the Spanish Flu, to the second duo, which evacuated Americans
from the Phillippines and Okinawa, to the current ships that have seen action since the Persian Gulf War. Painted white and adorned with red crosses, ships named Comfort and Mercy have brought much hope and relief during their careers. They represent the soft application of American sea power and hope for the United States during the past, present, and future. Sal Mercogliano is an associate professor of history at Campbell University in North Carolina and an adjunct professor for Maritime Industry Policy at the US Merchant Marine Academy. He is author of Fourth Arm of Defense: Sealift and Maritime Logistics in the Vietnam War. He currently serves as vice president of the North American Society for Oceanic History and is a member of the Sea History Editorial Advisory Board. A former licensed merchant mariner, he sailed as 3rd Mate onboard USNS Comfort during the Persian Gulf War. He and his former USNS Comfort shipmate Ensign Kathy Anderson—now Lieutenant Commander Kathy 1/8 pagecelebrated AD Mercogliano—recently their 28th wedding anniversary.
Model Ships by Ray Guinta P.O. Box 74 Leonia, NJ 07605 201-461-5729 www.modelshipsbyrayguinta.com e-mail: email@example.com Experienced ship model maker who has been commissioned by the National Maritime Historical Society and the USS Intrepid Museum in NYC. SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020 27
Banshee A New Kind of Blockade Runner
he American Civil War brought innovation to the design of warships and merchant vessels. Southern merchants and the Confederate government needed to sell cotton, tobacco, and naval stores abroad and import supplies from Europe, and to accomplish these objectives, they had to be able to get ships through the Union’s blockade of southern ports. In 1862, a new type of ship was launched from a British shipyard for a Liverpool merchant engaged in commerce with the Confederacy; SS Banshee would become a landmark in marine architecture that led to the successful running of the American Civil War blockade. She became the first steel ship to cross the Atlantic, but many more followed. More than 200 similar ships, including about thirty steel ships, all built for blockade running, were subsequently launched from British shipyards. Initially, southern mariners used every sort of watercraft to move cargoes, from tiny rowboats to ocean liners and clipper sailing ships. As the Civil War dragged into a second year, ordinary ships could not run the blockade safely and many were captured. While Confederate states were building warships at home, they looked abroad for merchant ships. They turned to British
half-tone reproduction of artwork by r. g. skerrett, courtesy nhhc, us navy
by Kevin J. Foster
shipbuilders for new designs for blockade runners. At first, the confederates thought big, and chartered, bought, and even built a few long-range ocean liners—but those proved too slow or too deep draft to run the blockade and too expensive to build. Merchant shippers looked for a new way to get supplies through the blockade. The answer came in the development of a twostage trade, with larger ships carrying goods between foreign ports and island entrepots, or transshipment points, just off southern coastlines, and smaller, faster ships to pick up those cargoes and get them through to southern ports. Ocean greyhounds from European routes were selected to make the run between the South and Bermuda, the Bahamas, and Cuba. Their prices climbed ever higher as many of the fastest ships from the British coast were sold to run the blockade. Blockade runner Tom Taylor wrote: “If the Federals were learning the business, so were we. It was clear that the blockaderunners must not only be increased in numbers but must be improved in type. The day of sailing vessels and ordinary trading steamers was over; accordingly, steamers of great speed were ordered to be built expressly for the service.”
An alternative source to obtain blockade runners came from British shipyards that were contracted to build specialized steamships, and merchants ordered a number of different experimental designs to see what worked best. By the end of 1862, sidewheel steamers, single-screw and twinscrew propeller ships were under construction in yards across Great Britain. The last were not finished until the winter of 1865, well after the war ended. Named after the Gaelic spirit in a silver-grey cloak who is heard but not seen, the 1862 paddlewheeler Banshee was built out of steel to maximize capacity and buoyancy. Steel was relatively new in shipbuilding—expensive, but a lightweight alternative to iron. From tests, engineers knew that steel was four times stronger than iron, and they theorized that a ship built of steel could be built lighter than any other. Two large engineering firms collaborated in the building of Banshee; the Liverpool firm Jones, Quiggin and Co. built the hull and superstructure, while Lairds Brothers of Birkenhead, across the Mersey River, subcontracted to build the engines. The hull was built out of steel measuring only 1/8 and 3/16 of an inch thick on iron frames. It was a gamble, not approved by SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
Lloyd’s or any other marine insurer. The hull was extraordinarily narrow at 214 feet long, with a mere twenty-foot beam and an eight-foot draft. That is a length-tobreadth ratio of nearly 11:1, much finer than any modern destroyer. Lairds placed the two-cylinder oscillating engines directly below the paddle shaft. They measured 52 inches in diameter with a 48-inch stroke and developed 350 indicated horsepower. It was a powerful engine, but one requiring training and skill to run properly. She was built with a number of experimental designs. To protect the ship from shot and shells, the boilers sat completely below deck level. For efficiency, the patent paddlewheels changed the angle of the paddles to enter and leave the water vertically. To maintain speed in high seas, a turtleback forecastle let the hull cut through big swells. Banshee was owned by Edward Toulmin Lawrence of the Anglo-Confederate Trading Company of Liverpool. Lawrence hired experienced blockade runner Jonathon Walkden Steele of Liverpool as master and entrusted 21-year-old Thomas E. Taylor as supercargo, to take charge of all business operations of the ship. Newspapers reported enthusiastically on the ship’s launch and a number of prominent people were invited on Banshee’s trial run. The publicity, naturally, attracted other, unwanted attention. Thomas Dudley, the Union consul general in Liverpool, reported on Banshee repeatedly and said he was suspicious the new paddlewheel steamship being built as an “insurgent vessel” because Lairds was known for having recently built the Confederate cruiser Alabama. Dudley’s reports made it back to the State Department in only three weeks and were passed on to the Navy; US naval officers were discussing Banshee around wardroom tables before the ship had made it across the Atlantic. Once Banshee put to sea in early 1863, the ship’s crew soon learned which of the innovative ideas worked—and which did not. The steel paddlewheeler nearly foundered on that first voyage. The ship and crew encountered stormy weather soon after leaving Liverpool, and had to put in at Queenstown, Cork, Ireland, in distress. The short trip had betrayed multiple flaws,
Thomas H. Dudley, US Consul at Liverpool from 1861–1872, worked to stem the flow of military supplies from Great Britain to the Confederacy. As part of this effort, he and his team investigated activity in British shipyards and sentdownloaded regular reports to UTC the This content fromreconnaissance 22.214.171.124 on Thu, 23 Apr 2020 18:48:14 All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms US Minister in London and to the authorities in Washington. with the hull itself perhaps the biggest problem. The thin steel hull plates buckled in a seaway, threatening to fail entirely, and the flexing also opened up the deck seams. The hull weakness proved chronic and led Tom Taylor to later describe Banshee as “a leaky ship beneath us.” Over time, the crew also discovered the hull was top heavy, dangerously heeling over when making a turn and not answering the helm well. The boilers proved problematic as well. They burned thirty tons of coal a day and the ship’s bunkers held only 100 tons. On her first voyage across the Atlantic, Banshee had no room for cargo, carrying only coal. The three engineers and twelve firemen had to be prudent to make the coal last. The boilers were not only hungry, but underway they revealed a major design flaw. To fit the boilers below deck, steam space was sacrificed and they could not be operated at full capacity. Worse, the tops were too close to the wooden decks, threatening to set them afire. Captain Steele turned the ship around and headed back into Queenstown, where they made as many alterations as they thought would fix most of the problems. It took three weeks. In this short
period of time, the hull was strengthened, the boilers modified, and the funnels lengthened by eight feet. Then they headed out again on a course west by south across the Atlantic. On 20 April 1863, Banshee became the first purpose-built blockade runner to arrive at Nassau. Here, Taylor and Steele had Banshee altered further. The masts were shortened and the hull was repainted a dull white to make it “invisible,” as they called it. Taylor and Steele added an experienced new crew, all with at least one blockade voyage behind them, and two knowledgeable Cape Fear pilots, Thomas Edward Burris and John Hill. On 9 May, Steele headed out for Wilmington, North Carolina. The best speed at the time proved to be barely nine knots. With double lookouts and extreme caution, Banshee passed the outer band of blockaders and threaded its way through three more on the way in. Dawn revealed its location to six or seven blockaders, but Banshee successfully dashed through them under fire to reach shelter under Fort Fisher’s guns. From there, she safely steamed up the river to Wilmington a few hours later. Five days later Banshee left on a return voyage to Nassau, having paid for the cost of the new ship on that one trip. Within that same month, Banshee departed for a second run. Most of Banshee’s sixteen trips—eight voyages through the blockade and back again—were between Wilmington and Nassau. A cargo manifest exists for the single voyage from St. Georges, Bermuda, to Wilmington. From A. J. Musson’s warehouse, she carried 300 cases of “hardware” (surplus Austrian army rifles, at 24 to the case), 300 boxes of ammunition, and 90 pigs of lead. From John T. Bourne’s warehouse there were two cases of merchandise (felt hats and combs from Belfast for Savannah). Transshipped from the raider CSS Florida, (probably confiscated from prizes) were forty coils of rope, two bales bagging, one bag twine, one bale cotton wick, ten bundles sacks, two firkins butter, and two cases paint; transshipped from Gibraltar (the former CSS Sumter) were 120 bales of paper; 149 bundles of shovels; and from Millicent there were two cases of brandy. Millicent’s return cargo from Bermuda to
SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020 29
Liverpool was the entire cargo of cotton just brought in by Banshee. Profits built up with each trip, but these were not without further danger. On one trip Banshee had slipped from Wilmington at night but was sighted by USS James Adger at daybreak. Captain Steele ordered the entire cotton deck load jettisoned to gain enough speed to escape their pursuers. The chase lasted fifteen hours, but nightfall allowed Banshee to escape —albeit with half its cargo. The ship’s last attempt to run the blockade started at Nassau on 17 November 1863 and ended four days later, when the US Army transport Fulton overhauled the ship at sea. Fulton fired sixteen shots during a chase that lasted approximately five hours. A few hours later, USS Grand Gulf joined the chase and fired four times before Banshee struck her flag. Captain Steele ordered bills of lading, bags of letters, and other papers thrown overboard during the chase, retaining only the ship’s register and crew agreements. Banshee was reportedly flying a Confederate flag when she was captured. Fulton’s sailors took the surrender and boarded first, but Grand Gulf ’s US
Deck view, USAT Fulton “direct and explicit testimony of the witnesses [was] examined in consideration of the case.” No one appeared as owner or claimant before the prize court, which determined Banshee was not a privateer or insurgent vessel but was “owned in England and employed running the blockade on account of British subjects.” Captain Steele was known to have run the blockade at least eight times and previously been captured and released at least twice. Others in the crew had run the blockade multiple times.
mariners museum collection
USS Grand Gulf
Navy sailors disputed the capture. The Army and Navy openly argued on the deck and threatened violence. Ultimately, the transport sailors departed, and the Navy took charge of the captured ship. The Grand Gulf prize crew sailed Banshee to New York for adjudication by the prize court for the Southern District of New York. Judge J. Betts ruled on the case on 1 December 1863. “Numerous documents and vouchers were examined” and 30
The court condemned Banshee. Judge Betts also settled the competing claims for prize money. Only USS Grand Gulf ’s officers and crew received prize money, as the Army transport Fulton was not authorized to receive prize money by law. The US Navy bought the ship for $72,500 at the subsequent US Marshal’s sale, and the steel paddlewheeler was then armed and outfitted as USS Banshee. She served in the US Navy, mostly on Chesapeake Bay, for less
than two years. During this time, the engines were often under repair, keeping the ship out of service for months at a time. The addition of armament decreased the stability inherent in her design, causing steering problems, and the ship rammed a pier at the Washington Navy Yard. The Navy laid up Banshee and sold her for $17,500 as the war ended. Samuel Ward bought her and kept the name Banshee. In turn, he sold the vessel to Smallwood and Company. They renamed her T. L. Smallwood and used her to transport cattle in the West Indies. In 1869 Smallwood sold the ship to Jason Burns of Nassau, NP, who transferred her back to British registry and renamed her Irene. The ship remained in intra-island service in the West Indies until the 1880s. Her name disappears from the American Lloyd’s registry of shipping in 1889. The Banshee case brought about some minor but important changes in maritime law. The courts decided that prize law restricted prize money to US Navy ships; Army vessels were ineligible for prize compensation. Courts also forced the government to release neutrals captured running the blockade after they testified in determining the facts in prize cases. Neutrals could not be held indefinitely for running the blockade. That decision eased considerable tension between the Lincoln government and Great Britain. It also eased tension between the Navy and Department of State. Kevin J. Foster likes old ships and books. He retired as the Chief of the National Maritime Heritage Program of the National Park Service. During his time with the NPS, he wrote more than thirty National Historic Landmark nominations and helped inaugurate the Maritime Heritage Grant Program. Kevin is internationally known as a historical archaeologist and maritime preservationist specializing in marine architecture and naval engineering of the 1800s. He received his MA in history from the Program in Maritime History and Underwater Archaeology from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, and has published several articles on the international aspects of the Civil War at sea. Kevin serves on the editorial advisory board for Sea History. SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
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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.
SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020 31
The Origins of Nantucket’s
by Michael R. Harrison
“The Rainbow Fleet, outward bound, Nantucket, Mass.” Postcard by H. Marshall Gardiner, from a photograph taken in 1929. For this staged photo, which Helen Sherman recalled many years later was planned by Austin Strong, the boats were towed around the point by the Nantucket Yacht Club’s motor launch. Note the dead calm water.
other boat types have sailed at Nantucket, but the catboat alone represents the island’s dual roles as a place of hard work and carefree play.
all images courtesy nantucket historical association collection
very August, as part of Nantucket Race Week, the little catboats of the island’s beloved Rainbow Fleet raise their colorful sails and parade around the entrance to the harbor at Brant Point, weather permitting. This island tradition dates to the 1920s, and grew out of efforts by the leaders of the Nantucket Yacht Club to find a suitable boat in which children and teenagers could learn to sail. A catboat was originally any boat with a “cat rig,” that is, a single mast, well forward, supporting a single gaff-headed sail. Over time, this rig became associated with beamy, shoal-bottomed centerboard boats designed to operate in the windy, choppy, and shallow waters of such places as Lower New York Bay, Massachusetts Bay, and Nantucket Sound. The catboat is, historically, the quintessential Nantucket boat, after the whaleboat. Although by no means exclusive to Nantucket, the catboat was the dominant watercraft in the local fishing fleet and the preferred party boat for summer visitors from the 1860s to the 1920s. The hull size grew over time. Enormous catboats up to 40 feet long developed, able to profitably fish in Nantucket Sound, or carry dozens of passengers on pleasure trips around the harbor. Smaller catboats designed for racing developed from these large workboats, particularly in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Many
An early catboat anchored in Nantucket Harbor, 1866. SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
Nantucket has been a summer holiday destination for more than 150 years. Pleasure boating was well established as a feature of the island’s summer scene long before the Nantucket Yacht Club was founded in 1906. The club immediately organized races, where its members pitted their catboats, knockabouts, and other recreational craft against each other. Because different boats have different performance characteristics, a system of handicapping was developed for certain races to make the competition fairer, and boats of similar rigs or designs were raced only against each other. Before long, the yacht club, like many other clubs across the country, sought to encourage members to invest in boats all built to the same design to eliminate the need for handicapping. The first step in this direction on Nantucket came in 1910, when a committee at the yacht club commissioned 25-year-old B. Karl Sharp (1884–1962) to design a 13-foot catboat for members’ use as a “one-design” racing boat. Sharp was a lifelong island summer resident and a son of Dr. Benjamin Sharp (1858–1915), a gifted zoologist and sailor who contributed extensively to the cultural life of Nantucket. The elder Sharp instilled in his two sons a deep love of sailing, which led Karl both to a lifetime of yachting and to the study of naval architecture at MIT, earning a degree in 1907. He and E. A. Edwards founded the firm of Edwards and Sharp, naval architects and marine engineers, soon after graduating from university.
Karl Sharp’s design for a 13-foot one-design catboat, 1910. Sharp’s one-design catboat for the Nantucket Yacht Club was intended to be a small and affordable boat for racing. Measuring 13' overall and 6' 2" in beam, the design carried a 20' mast and a 16' 8" boom to support a 175-square-foot sail. Six yacht club members stepped forward to order boats, which the M. J. Casey Co. of New Bedford, Massachusetts, delivered to Nantucket in July 1910. The boats cost $150 each, plus $10 for Sharp’s plans and his “supervision of the builders.” The original owners were James Cunningham Bishop, F. A. Dillingham, Sidney Este, Alfred Gardiner, Lila Hedges, and Mrs. Henry O. (Jenny) Underwood.
Captain George A. Veeder (far left) with a party of holidaymakers aboard the Seminole, 16 August 1886. The Seminole was typical of the large catboats that operated out of Nantucket at the end of the nineteenth century.
SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020 33
A review of Sharp’s one-design catboat was published in the yachting magazine The Rudder in May 1916. It declared the boats “very successful,” explaining that the “boat…is just the thing for a club that wants a wholesome and inexpensive one-design class, or for the individual who wants a good type of small boat for the youngsters to learn in.” Indeed, summer yacht-club racing reports published in the Inquirer and Mirror highlight these boats being raced by children. The boats were also popular with women, with frequent race reports featuring a number of local female competitors.
design his firm developed for the club envisioned boats 16' long and 7' 9" in beam with 230 square feet of sail set on 18' 2" masts and 20' 3" booms. The design was accepted by the club’s officers in November 1921, and seven members stepped forward to commission boats based on it. These were constructed at Port Jefferson in the spring of 1922 and delivered to the island in time for the summer racing season. The first seven boats were the Blue Devil, for Henry Lang; Flapper, for Clarence Gennett; G.W.G., for B. F. W. Russell; Luan, for Ann Donald; Margie, for Leeds Mitchell; Moby Dick, for Everett Crosby; and Nancy, for Henry Shaw. It was Gennett’s idea that the boats wear sails of different colors to distinguish them, and the lively effect this created immediately led to the moniker “Rainbow Fleet.” The first seven boats had the sail colors blue, light yellow, green, tan, red, deep yellow, and “old rose.” The club hoped to create a fleet of at least sixteen boats. To do so, more members needed to buy into the idea and purchase boats. Gennett lined up a commitment from Ray S. Deering at the Nantucket Boat Works to build four or more by summer 1923 for a cost of $475 each. To press the scheme, Gennett, who was a recording company executive from Indiana, sent a phonograph record to all the members of the yacht club in January 1923 encouraging the purchase of more Rainbows. On the record, Gennett sent greetings and extolled the project: The “rainbow fleet” should sail this summer sixteen strong.…We ask you as a member of the Nantucket Yacht Club to help us make the racing at the club a feature of the summer at Nantucket. This appeal to our members… to buy a boat is made in the spirit of Nantucket and each member is requested to join our fleet with the “rainbow” sails and race with us on the afternoons of Independence Day, Labor Day, and each Saturday during the season.
The Sharp family and guests in the family catboat, ca. 1892. Dr. Benjamin Sharp is at the tiller; young B. Karl Sharp hoists the sail. It appears that no more of these boats were built beyond the initial six; it is not clear why they did not form a lasting onedesign solution for the Nantucket Yacht Club. But they did demonstrate the utility of a small catboat for youngsters to sail. Helen Wilson Sherman, who learned to sail at the club in the 1920s, recalled in a 2002 interview that “there were a lot of children floating around the yacht club,” the result of a summer culture where women and children came to the island full time and needed activities, while many husbands remained at home to work and visited for more limited periods of time. Sherman also recalled that many of the boats that club members sailed were too big for children to handle. In 1921, the club made a second attempt to create a onedesign fleet of small catboats, this time expressly for young sailors to learn in and race. The yacht club’s vice commodore, Clarence Gennett, commissioned a design for a 16-foot catboat from W. D. Allen, president of the Port Jefferson Marine Railway Corporation in Long Island. Allen was a descendent of Nantucket and New Bedford whaling captains, and a graduate of MIT. The 34
Do it now! . . . Ask the owner of a “rainbow” boat how they sail and if they are not safe for children and grownups. They are loads of fun, fresh air, and salt water. Join us now. Do not put it off. Act today. Gennett’s special appeal was only mildly successful, resulting in orders for just three additional boats. These became the Dede, for H. W. Davis; Surge, for Joseph Metcalf; and Wolverine, for A. E. Smith; with sail colors of orange, light blue, and coffee brown, respectively. The Rainbow Fleet raced each other many times during the summer of 1923 and attracted frequent comment in the local newspaper. “The usual race of the ‘rainbow fleet’ was as picturesque as ever,” the Yacht Club Notes columnist reported in early August, “the varied colored sails making a most beautiful picture. The fleet, ten in all, jockeyed at the starting line.…The winner was the Surge.” The next month, the Water Front columnist wrote, “The Yacht Club’s ‘rainbow fleet’ with their many-colored sails made a pretty picture in the race on Labor Day.…Many persons gathered on the wharves and on the point to watch the progress of the race.” SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
Despite the popular visual interest the fleet immediately created, the ten original Rainbow catboats proved to have sailing and maintenance difficulties. The Rainbows were strong boats for sailing close to the wind, but they proved to be deficient running before the wind, where careful handling was needed to prevent the bows from diving in even mild following seas. Their weather helm was very hard, difficult for a strong adult to handle and largely impossible for children. There were also construction deficiencies with the steam-bent ribs and the planking, requiring close maintenance attention at the start of each season. After a few years of lackluster performance, it became clear to the yacht club’s leadership and the boats’ owners that the 16-foot Rainbows were not fulfilling their intended purpose. To solve this inadequacy, in 1927 Captain Charles S. Collins ordered a flight of smaller and lighter 12Architect Eliza Codd sailing her Karl Sharp–designed 13-foot one-design catboat. foot catboats from the Beetle Company of New Bedford. These were so-called “Beetle Cats,” a design the Rainbow Fleet, which is an exaggeration. But it is not an developed by the Beetle shop in 1921 that was already popular exaggeration that he took a special interest in youth education all along the southern coast of New England and was demonstra- and sail training during his two years as club commodore in 1930–31, and the Rainbow Fleet flourished under his leadership bly easy for children to handle. During the 1927 season, the older Rainbows continued to and that of yachtsman William W. Swan, the well-known yacht race, while the new “Little Rainbows,” sailed entirely by children, racer Strong brought to Nantucket in 1930 to teach the club’s formed a class of their own. A racing report from July 1927 notes, youngsters. It was Swan who instituted the rule that only juniors “The Little Rainbow Fleet has proved itself a fine class and every under seventeen years of age could race in the Little Rainbow one is proud and happy. Master Cutler won on Wednesday, sail- Class. It took only a few years for the colored sails of the Rainbows, ing a fine race and the whole fleet congratulates him. Miss Smith had hard luck with her tiller. Miss Gennett and her brother made both big and little, to become part of the image of Nantucket. a gallant fight but succeeded in coming in second. Miss Helen “See Gardiners pictures of the Rainbow Fleet,” newspaper ads Wilson won an easy third and hasn’t gotten over the thrill yet. suggested in 1929, referring to souvenir photographs and postcards The poor old Rear-Commodore hit a shoal and never came in at that photographer H. Marshall Gardiner produced for sale to island visitors. His iconic view of the Rainbow Fleet outward all.” Both classes continued in 1928, but the end was in sight for bound around Brant Point is one of the defining images of the the original Rainbows. “In the R Class, the old rainbow class,” island in the twentieth century. “The [yacht club] Racing Committee has a very warm feeling the newspaper reported in early July 1928, “only one boat went over the course, which was the Flapper, sailed by Clarence Gen- for the Little Rainbow Class,” the newspaper declared in 1930. nett.” In the N or Little Rainbow Class, multiple boats were “They consider that it is the most important class in the fleet, for enthusiastically raced. By 1929, there were at least twenty-three it not only brought fame to the Club, but it has made a reputation Little Rainbows racing for the club, while there were no longer on account of turning out so many fine young sportsmen and enough old Rainbows to compete in their own separate class. By sportswomen.” 1931, most of the old Rainbows had been sold off and the Rainbow Fleet, now made up entirely of 12-foot Beetle Cats, numbered Michael R. Harrison is the Obed Macy Director of Research and Collections at the Nantucket Historical Association. He is the author sixty strong. Helen Wilson Sherman, one of the first Little Rainbow of Collecting Nantucket: Artifacts from an Island Community sailors in 1927 and the second commodore of the Little Rainbow (NHA, 2018) and co-author of Glasgow Museums, the Ship Association, remembered that it was her uncle, the playwright Models: A History & Complete Illustrated Catalogue (Seaforth, Austin Strong, who introduced the Beetle Cat to the Nantucket 2019). A version of this article previously appeared in Historic Yacht Club. In later years, Strong himself took credit for starting Nantucket, the NHA’s membership magazine. SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020 35
n a recent sailing voyage aboard the oceanographic research vessel Robert C. Seamans, we scooped up an odd-looking animal that got everyone on board the ship excited. It was late in February, summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and we were about 100 miles off the northernmost tip of Aotearoa New Zealand, a point known as the North Cape. Here we deployed a meter net, a long finemeshed conical net with a 3-foot-wide metal ring that keeps the top open as it gets dragged through the water. For three nights in a row we sent this meter net down several hundred feet beneath the surface, towing it as we sailed very slowly along. Each time, when we hauled the net back aboard,
Animals in Sea History
sea education association
SEA HISTORY for kids
Students deploy a meter net from the deck of SSV Robert C. Seamans.
we found inside a glowing clump of clear rubbery pickle-looking, um… thingies. The thingies we captured in our net were colonies of living organisms covered by nubby spikes. Our chief scientist, Jan Witting, explained that each nubby spike is its own animal: a zooid with a simple brain, stomach,
by Richard King
liver, and a basket with cilia that acts as a filter. All of these zooids, each a clone of its neighbor, connects to the others with a clear gelatinous material that forms a firm sock-shaped colony, which opens on one end. These colonial organisms are pyrosomes. The first Western author to describe and formally name what some sailors called “sea pickles” or “sea cucumbers” was the French explorer and naturalist François Auguste Péron, who in the early 1800s encountered a large patch of them one night at the surface in the equatorial Atlantic. “Heightened by the surrounding circumstances,” he French naturalist François Auguste Péron was the first to formally describe and name the pyrosomes.
wrote, “the effect of this spectacle was romantic, imposing, sublime, riveting the attention of all on board.” Péron brought several specimens on deck, all between 3 and 7 inches long. He described their anatomy, tested their bioluminescent properties, and gave them their scientific genus name of Pyrosoma, which means “fire body” in Greek. In the decades to follow, other sea-going naturalists wrote about pyrosomes with similar poetic awe. American Francis Allyn Olmsted said that when big seas crashed over the rail, the jelly-like creatures rolled SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
courtesy ella cedarholm
around the ship’s deck like “a fireball.” In 1849 T. H. Huxley wrote in his diary or the “beautiful Pyrosoma” that were “shining like white-hot cylinders in the water.” An English surgeon named Frederick Bennett left one of the most colorful published descriptions of pyrosomes. Bennett was generally not prone to absurd exaggeration, yet he seemingly could not help himself when it came to writing about pyro- common body to move around and For our part, we kept one of our somes. Like Péron, Bennett found thus have better access collectively largest pyrosomes in a bucket. By the them in enormous numbers in the to capture phytoplankton and then next day it was no longer clear, but equatorial Atlantic. had turned orange and The pyrosomes were more rigid, looking in “their zenith of and feeling more like splendor,” he wrote, a dog toy. The waters aggregating in such north of Aotearoa densities that the New Zealand, where whalemen could fill we sailed during those any number of buckthree nights, are faets with them and mous for exceptionthat the mass of pyroally large pyrosomes. Pyrosoma Atlanticum: published in Annales du Muséum d’histoire naturelle, 1804. somes created such a The longest we caught glow in the water that the animals excrete water and waste out their was about a foot long; our chief scirendered “all surrounding objects vis- common core. This collective filtering entist onboard told us that on a previible during the darkest night, and helps them move their body along, ous voyage in these waters, the ship permitting a book to be read on the allowing them to control a bit of their had sailed over pyrosomes bigger than deck, or near the stern-cabin windows vertical motion and even forward pro- boulders—so large that the crew of a ship.” pulsion. Each individual zooid has thought at first they were about to run Pyrosomes float freely at sea, what scientists believe to be cells with aground. Since Péron’s day, marine anywhere from at the surface to as bioluminescent bacteria within a pair biologists have since identified sevfar down as 3,000 feet. They are filter- of organs. The pyrosome’s famous eral different species of pyrosome, ing organisms, joined together in a bioluminescence has been recorded which include individuals that grow to as a range of blues, greens, and pinks. enormous lengths. In 2018, a few hunThe glow helps them attract phyto- dred miles to the south of where we plankton toward their collective body sailed, two SCUBA divers happened and perhaps communicate with their upon one of these giant pyrosomes fellow zooids to adjust their vertical that was more than twenty-five feet motion up or down the water column long. In 1969, even closer to our track, based on the movements of their food biologists found one that was about sources—usually in response to the thirty feet long with a diameter of sun—and perhaps to escape ending three feet! It’s enough to make a sailor run out of…er…glowing terms. up a snack for turtles and dolphins. Marine scientist Ella Cedarholm uses her headlamp to illuminate a recently caught pyrosome in the lab on board SSV Robert C. Seamans For more “Animals in Sea History” go to www.seahistory.org or educators.mysticseaport.org.
“Sea History for Kids” is sponsored by the Henry L. & Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation
The Power to Transport–The American by Russ Kramer
n mid-April as I write this, no one is allowed to visit a museum and have their emotions stirred by standing before a beautiful work of art. Just a week after the busy opening reception of the American Society of Marine Artists’ 18th National Exhibition at the Jamestown Settlement Museum in Williamsburg, Virginia, the lights were shut off and the doors locked due to the COVID19 pandemic. There, in an extraordinary space customized to enhance the visitor experience, sit 111 works of exceptional contemporary marine art, now in the dark, waiting patiently to be illuminated and admired once again. Hopefully, by the time you read this, the show is open and the five-museum, twenty-month run of the national exhibition will have resumed. It is an impressive collection: paintings in every medium, sculptures, drawings, and scrimshaw by the ASMA’s top artists, juried by the Society’s Fellows and culled from over 400 entries. This is only the 18th time in the Society’s forty-plus-year history that we have presented our best new works for national exhibition, and, in my opinion, it is by far the strongest. ASMA president Lisa Egeli writes, “All our artists draw inspiration from a wide range of locations and experiences that include waters, both navigable and discrete,
and activities, both carefully researched from history and observed directly from life. The founders of the American Society of Marine Artists were mostly painters of tall ships and other vessels that ply the high seas. While depicting scenes from maritime history is still at the core of our mission, today’s members also capture life under the sea, along the shorelines, and even in ponds, streams, and boathouses.” There is truly something for everyone to enjoy. The 18th National Exhibition was scheduled to close in Jamestown in late April before traveling at the end of May to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s, Maryland, where it was to stay through Labor Day. From there it would go to the GulfQuest Maritime Museum in Mobile, the Burroughs-Chapin Museum of Art in Myrtle Beach, and finally to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona in summer 2021. As this unprecedented situation unfolds, please check for updates or revisions to the schedule on the ASMA website. Perhaps in a post-pandemic world we will be more aware of the value of simple pleasures in our own lives, and the restorative nature of art to revive and inspire us. On behalf of the ASMA and its 500 artist members, I invite you to explore and enjoy our personal experiences and visions,
presented for you through the works of the 18th National Exhibition. A small sampling of the artworks is presented here, along with commentary from the Society’s Fellows, who selected these and dozens of others to represent the best of the American Society of Marine Artists.
Nightwatch by Darrell Davis, bronze, 19 x 5 x 6.25 inches
all images courtesy of the artists and asma
“This sculpture is beautifully designed. He takes our eye from a simple understated base along an elegant sweeping arc to the engaging and dramatic posture of the head, beak and crest. The transformation of the piece from hard geometry to meticulous detail is what engages me the most.”—Len Tantillo
Buckeye Battlewagon by Richard Allison, oil, 18 x 24 inches 38
“It is unusual to have a such a subject as the 1820 USS Ohio painted with both accuracy and convincing presentation, and it is commendable that Richard Allison took on a subject that is little known in American naval history. Beautiful and engaging values, composition and dynamic action.” —Charles Raskob Robinson SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
Society of Marine Artists’ 18th National Exhibition After Hours by Christopher Groves, oil, 20 x 20 inches “I love Chris Groves’s After Hours. This painting combined the abstract with deft draftsmanship. The artist puts you right there in late light that you can feel.” —Bill Farnsworth
The Perfect Cover
by Joyful Enriquez, oil, 22 x 28 inches An exceptional painting, and a great example of the transportive power of art to bring the viewer into a world few of us ever have the opportunity to see.” —Russ Kramer
Salty Sisters by Judy Saltzman watercolor, 30 x 30 inches “Judy has simplified this painting into panels of bright harmonious color, which surround the two figures. The boat and sail are abstracted such that, without the figures, we might not even recognize these shapes...it is full of life and motion.” —Sheri Farabaugh
You can view the exhibition catalogue on the ASMA website: www.american societyofmarineartists.com. Russ Kramer is a Fellow and past president of the American Society of Marine Artists.
SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020 39
photos courtesy city of poreč
to the National Museum of Poreč for conservation. (www.muzejporec.hr/hr/naslov na) … The US Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced on 7 April that TOTE Services, LLC, has selected Philly Shipyard, Inc., of Philadelphia to construct the newest class of training ship, the National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV). The initial $630-million order calls for the shipyard to construct the first two ships of this class, which will provide a platform for training cadets at the
A terrestrial archaeology project examining the waterfront in Poreč, Croatia, has revealed an unexpected treasure— the remains of a 2,000-year-old Roman “sewn ship.” Measuring about 16 feet long by 5.6 feet wide, the boat was constructed by stitching rope and twine through holes in the planks, and later inserting wooden nails, called spots, into the holes. The boat would have originally been rigged with a mast and a sail. The vessel’s remains, which the archaeologists estimate date to the first century AD, were particularly well-preserved because they had been buried at a depth such that oxygen had not penetrated the soil in which they were packed. The site was originally underwater offshore, but as the coastline shifted, it became part of the land. The bottom planking, frames, and keel are relatively intact, and the outline of elements of the vessel that have decayed is visible in the surrounding mud. The archaeological survey was conducted as part of a redevelopment project along the waterfront. Once the boat has been documented in situ, it will be removed and sent
nation’s maritime academies. In addition, as a National Defense Reserve Fleet vessel, the NSMV will be a resource to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The NSMVs will have a length of 160 meters and a 27-meter beam. They will accommodate 600 cadets and 100 officers, faculty, staff, and crew when serving as a training ship, a capacity that could expand to berthing for up to 1,000 first responders, recovery workers, and crew in emergencyrelief missions. The vessels will offer classrooms, workshops, lab/training areas, a training bridge and navigational lab, and a large multi-purpose space. A roll-on/rolloff ramp and cargo crane, medical facilities, and a helicopter pad will make the vessel a versatile asset in relief efforts in times of need. The two vessels are scheduled for completion in spring and winter 2023;
TOTE retains options for three additional ships. TOTE Services was awarded the contract last year to manage the ships’ construction. The first two ships are slated to replace the aging training ships at the state maritime academies in Massachusetts and New York, followed by three more ships going to Maine, Texas, and California. (MAR AD: www.maritime.dot.gov/; TOTE: www.toteservices.com) … The US District Court in Mobile, Alabama, has awarded ownership of the shipwreck of the slaveship Clotilda to the Alabama Historical Commission (AHC). The identity of the wreck site was confirmed in May of 2019 by the AHC and SEARCH, Inc., as the two-masted Gulf schooner that illegally brought 103 kidnapped Africans to Mobile to be sold as slaves, 52 years after the importation of enslaved persons had been outlawed in the United States. (Read more about Clotilda and the process of identifying the wreck in Sea History 168, pages 50–51.) The AHC filed an admiralty claim to protect the site and ensure that no artifacts would be removed. In 1860, after ship captain William Foster, acting on behalf of Alabama landowner Timothy Meaher, had delivered the captives to a riverboat to be taken into Mobile, he burned and sank the ship in the Mobile River. After the end of the Civil War, many of the enslaved people who had been aboard Clotilda settled in a community north of Mobile known as Africatown. (Alabama Historical Commission, 486 South Perry Street, Montgomery; Ph. 334 242-3184; https://ahc.alabama.gov. SEARCH, Inc., www.searchinc.com) … The Brig Pilgrim, which sank at her slip in Dana Point, California, has been demolished and her remains have been sent to a landfill—an inglorious end to the ship’s long career as an educational platform for the Ocean Institute. The ship flooded and sank in the pre-dawn hours on 29 March from an unknown cause. With the immediate assistance from the Coast Guard and local harbor patrol, any risk of fuel or other contaminants leaking into the water was minimized; the ship is a dockside vessel that had not sailed in a few years, so there was not much fuel onboard. Once parts of the rig and debris were removed, the vessel was refloated by salvage companies TowBoatUS SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
and Curtin Maritime with the use of a barge crane, airbags positioned under the hull, and strapping. According to Ocean Institute’s maritime facilities director, Dan Goldbacher, as the vessel resurfaced it was immediately apparent that the structural damage was extensive and deemed unlikely that the ship could be repaired. Pilgrim was built in Denmark in 1945 as a coastal trader. Originally rigged as a threemasted schooner, she was rerigged as a brig
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Brig Pilgrim at her berth in 2019. in 1975 by naval architect Capt. Ray Wallace, and in 1981 she was brought to Dana Point and bought by the Orange County Marine Institute (now Ocean Institute). Since that time, the ship has been used as a floating platform for living history programs. The Ocean Institute estimates that more than 400,000 4th and 5th graders have participated in overnight dockside programs onboard. In her long tenure along the Dana Point waterfront, Pilgrim had become a cherished icon of the community. She also starred in a couple of movies, including Amistad (1997) and Turbo (also 1997, a Power Rangers movie). Of course, Pilgrim’s greatest role was representing the brig for which she is named and aboard which Richard Henry Dana Jr. sailed to California in 1834. He returned home and wrote Two Years Before the Mast, which went on to become an American classic. (Ocean Institute, 24200 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, CA; Ph. 949 496-2274; www.ocean-institute.org) …
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In April, Rear Admiral Melissa Bert assumed duties as the Judge Advocate General and Chief Counsel of the Coast Guard; she is the first woman to hold this office. In her new role, she will lead a group of legal professionals responsible for the delivery of all legal services in support of the Coast Guard’s missions, its units, and its personnel. RADM Bert is a graduate of the US Coast Guard Academy and George Washington University Law School. She is
also the founder of the Women’s Leadership Initiative supporting mentoring and professional development for Coast Guard women in uniform and civilians. (www.uscg. mil/resources/legal) … Maine Maritime Museum has partnered with Google Arts & Culture to showcase some of the museum’s maritime art and collections online. Amy Lent, the museum’s executive director, shared that the museum staff had been working for months on a project to get nearly all of their collections online when the COVID-19 crisis hit, so they were in a good position to launch educational programming and online exhibits when the museum shut down. (243 Washington St., Bath, ME; Ph. 207 443-1316; www.mainemaritimemuseum.org) … In February, the Maritime Museum of San Diego announced the completion of the once-ina-decade required haul out and USCG inspection of the museum’s flagship, Star of India. While the ship was in dry dock at BAE Systems, the museum’s crew was pleased to see that the CeRam-Kote layer that had been applied to protect the hull in 2010 had done its job well and that the wrought-iron plating below the waterline SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
photo by alex saikowski, courtesy mmsd
member crew survived. The schooner was built in New York State by William Crosthwaite for John Kelderhouse in 1863. Jennie and Annie were his younger sisters. This photo was taken by Kim Kelderhouse, the
photo by kim kelderhouse, courtesy lhsm
is in good condition. Restoration and maintenance work included hull hydro-blasting and application of anti-fouling and topside paint. Built in 1863 as Euterpe, the 212-foot Star of India has circumnavigated the globe 21 times. The ship retired from commercial voyaging in 1923. The Maritime Museum of San Diego was founded in 1948 and made the ship its primary focus. She has never been fitted with auxiliary power and can still sail under her own power. Star of India is lovingly cared for by museum staff and volunteers. (MMSD, 1492 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA; Ph. 619 2349153; www.sdmaritime.org) … Recent heavy weather and wave action have uncovered a Lake Michigan shipwreck near the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The 137-foot cargo schooner Jennie & Annie met its demise in a gale in 1872, when it was wrecked just south of Sleeping Bear Point on the Michigan side of the lake; only three men from her ten-
curator for the Leelanau Historical Society Museum located in nearby Leland, just north of the wreck site. Ms. Kelderhouse is the great-great-great granddaughter of Thomas Kelderhouse, brother of the ship’s owner. The ship’s emergence in spring 2020 was not its first. It has remained in its approximate location for many years and the occasional storm exposes it to a fresh audience. The recent sighting, however, has received a lot of attention in the news and on social media. The folks at the museum want to remind us that they did not discover the wreck and that shipwrecks in Michigan waters are cultural resources held in the public trust, protected by the State of Michigan. It is illegal to remove, alter, or destroy these maritime artifacts. The wreck site is within the boundaries of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and it is a part of the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve. (LHSM: 203 E. Cedar Street, Leland, Michigan; www.lee lanauhistory.org. Sleeping Bear Point Visitor Center, 9922 Front St., Empire, MI; Ph. 231 326-4700; www.nps.gov/slbe)
SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020 43
Cayman’s 1794 Wreck of the Ten Sail: Peace, War, and Peril in the Caribbean by Margaret E. Leshikar-Denton (University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, 2019, 320pp, illus, notes, biblio, index, appen, isbn 978-0-81735-965-2; $29.95pb) Before I get into my comments on this volume and in the interest of full disclosure, let me offer that I know Dr. LeshikarDenton, having worked with her on my own novel, Gun Bay, some six years ago, when I was living in Cayman during the winter months. While I was surprised to see it, she acknowledged my “assistance” with her own work in the subject volume. Cayman’s 1794 Wreck of the Ten Sail is so much more than the story of the wreck, which is well known and revered by many Caymanians. It is a history—concise to be sure—of the early settlements on Grand Cayman; it is the story of the French Revolution as it impacted the Caribbean and the islands held by England and France; it is the story of how the Royal Navy frigate HMS Convert came to be in the Royal Navy (she had previously been the French frigate L’Inconstante, which was captured by the British during their seemingly endless conflict); and of course, it is the story of how a British warship and nine merchant vessels wound up ashore on the East End of Grand Cayman Island. Dr. Leshikar-Denton tells the history in remarkably complete detail
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without being overly pedagogical, as many history tomes tend to be. One of the more unusual facets of her chronology is the inclusion of the folklore surrounding the event and her interviews with island elders, many whose great grandparents witnessed multiple shipwrecks in the waters around the island and, in particular, the subject one. Needless to say, local lore across generations has evolved into many interpretations: some being totally off the mark, others quite remarkably accurate considering the passage of time and the fact the interviewees were often in their late nineties and, in at least one case, over 100 years of age. An underwater archaeologist by education, Leshikar-Denton has been involved in the exploration of the wrecks around Cayman since 1981. She includes in her telling of this history detailed diagrams, results of underwater studies she has undertaken with both professional archaeologists and interns, with explanations of how different determinations were achieved regarding collected artifacts and their origins. Further, with the cooperation of the island government, she instituted procedures for safeguarding the wreck sites, ensuring the existing remains will still be there for future generations to study and enjoy. Her work is professional, unemotional, and incredibly detailed.
Leshikar-Denton’s research involved combing the archives of a variety of repositories in France, England, Jamaica, and of course the Cayman Islands, and involved more than thirty years of work, both under the sea and ashore. Her final chapter discusses what the future might hold, how further artifacts might be recovered and conserved (the Cayman National Museum has no facility for conserving submerged cultural artifacts), and the required steps the local government needs to take to institute further protection of shipwreck sites within the islands’ waters. Additionally, she and her crew have endeavored to educate the local populace, many of whom had salvaged cannons and other artifacts from the site but had little idea of how to take care of them, causing many of the cannon barrels put on display in front yards to deteriorate to a barely recognizable state. Appendices list crew manifests, cargo and equipment lists, correspondence between the players involved, condemnation proceedings of the French frigate L’Inconstante, the biography of Captain John Lawford (captain of HMS Convert), and the account of the salvage efforts by both the citizens of East End Grand Cayman and the Royal Navy. And, of course, the book is properly and completely annotated. I can, without reservation, recommend this superior work to any with even a passing interest in either shipwrecks or the Cayman Islands. It should stand as an example of how properly to research and write a history to any who might consider taking on a similar project. Due to the subject’s somewhat narrow focus, it will most likely not appear on the New York Times best seller list but should appear on any historian’s bookshelf. William H. White Bonita Springs, Florida The Gulf of Mexico: A Maritime History by John S. Sledge (University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, 2019, 264pp, illus, biblio, index, isbn 978-1-64336-0140; $29.99hc) John Sledge’s new book on the maritime history of the Gulf of Mexico weaves together several elements that are as broad and varied as the body of water it examines. Sledge places the Gulf within a broader SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
historical framework that few authors have attempted. As he points out, there have been several works related to the Gulf of Mexico, but many focus on environmental issues or have a much narrower focus. Sledge’s book, however, encompasses broad topics concerning the Gulf, while never losing sight of the human element. Creating a comprehensive yet readable book on broad topics associated with the human history of the Gulf of Mexico is no easy task. The body of water touches the shores of several nations and has a human history that stretches back hundreds of years. At any given time, the Gulf of Mexico represented contested lands, freedom and enslavement of people, and the opportunity for trade and commerce. In trying to understand this body of water, Sledge divided the Gulf ’s history into various chapters that are both thematic and chronological. His first chapter, “Indian Shore,” looks at Native American contact with Spanish explorers. From there he moves on to discuss Spanish exploration and settlement, other European inroads, and piracy. Remaining chapters continue with themes of trade, military involvement, and eventually more modern topics such as commercial fishing and oil exploration. I would recommend this book to readers looking for an introduction to the region without having to commit to an overly large and dense history of the area. Sledge’s research is comprehensive and is based on a variety of resources, but he does not overload the reader with too much information. There are no major surprises or new information that cannot be found elsewhere, but I do not think his intent was to rewrite the history of the Gulf. Rather, he provides a solid overview of the maritime history of the waters within and the territory surrounding the Gulf. The Gulf of Mexico: A Maritime History is a welcome addition to the body of research regarding the earth’s tenth largest body of water. Sledge’s effort opens the door for future scholars and is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to conduct research in or around the Gulf. He ties together several historical elements that reveal the varied and complex history that is the Gulf of Mexico. Amy Mitchell Cook Pensacola, Florida
Ocean Sailing: The Offshore Cruising Experience with Real-life Practical Advice by Paul Heiney (Adlard Coles, New York, 2019, 288pp, illus, biblio, index, isbn 978-1-47295-539-5; $35hc) by Kurt D. Voss Our love affair with the sea and the All proceeds from this pictorial history mystery held just beyond the horizon has benefit the ELISSA preservation fund. inspired countless numbers to surrender their worldly possessions, take command of a vessel, and venture to find out what lay out of sight and mind. Since Joshua Slocum and his refitted Spray departed Boston on the morning of 24 April 1895, the notion of voyaging—not for commerce but for pleasure—has taken hold of many an armchair sailor and coastal cruiser alike. A would-be voyager could spend several lifetimes on web searches alone for The Glencannon Press recommended reading, be it the highly 4 col. (2.25 technical, like the manyinches works of Nigelx 4.5 inches) Prefer storytelling right handsuch page, bottom Calder, or the anecdotal Publishedright. by Arcadia Publishing and Galveston Historical Foundation as Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the $21.99. 128 pages, 200 photographs World. Enter into this paper (or digital) Autographed copies available at maelstrom Ocean Sailing: The Offshore (409) 763-1877, or online at: Cruising Experience with Real-Life Practical Advice. While clearly written from the w w w. t s m - e l i s s a . o r g perspective of those who fly the Blue Ensign, Ocean Sailing has a universal accessibility, and readers on this side of the pond THE GLENCANNON should not be dissuaded. The author does PRESS an admirable job of blending valuable technical advice with the comforting tone of a Maritime Books trusted mentor: encouraging and supportive, but never dismissive of the seriousness that planning an offshore voyage entails. The book weaves its way through topNEW! ics ranging from weather routing to boat The Ferryboat Berkeley selection, with particular attention given by to two subjects that are worth highlighting: Patricia Shannon Anderson the financials of world voyaging on a variety of budgets, and examining whether or not to cruise with children. The complete history of this One thing which sets Ocean Sailing historic craft now located at apart from many other similar books on the Maritime Museum of San the subject is the author’s frequent incluDiego. More than 200 pages, sion of substantive contributions from 29 in full color. world voyagers who have their own perspectives to share. Some of this advice, Available May 1, 2020. while personally put to the test by the contributors, runs counter to what is often FREE Catalog 1-510-455-9027 shared as best practices in the world of Online at mariner training, both at the professional www.glencannon.com as well as recreational level. As one glaring example, one contributor suggests cruisers stow liferafts below decks. That said, the
SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020 45
and elementary information, Ocean Sailing does yeomen’s work in both categories. Capt. Jonathan Kabak Portsmouth, Rhode Island 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) Across the span of human history, we have used the oceans for sustenance, trade, empire, war, and adventure. But perhaps our most enlightened interactions with the ocean come from science. In his new book, Neptune’s Laboratory, science historian Antony Adler presents a compelling narrative of the history of oceanography and the ways in which the ocean has been a great partner as marine technology advanced and scientific literacy grew. Neptune’s Laboratory begins with a discussion of the origins of modern oceanography and how the sea increasingly became a fascination for people ashore as well as those whose work and livelihoods took them to sea. Adler describes early efforts
in ocean research and monitoring efforts and the beginnings of our current concern about the depletion of fishing stocks as technologies in the fisheries evolved. Powerful personalities such as Prince Albert I of Monaco and Anton Dohrn were instrumental in focusing additional attention and resources on ocean exploration and issues. Moving into the 20th century, Adler shows how the seas became a space for international collaboration and post-war hope for a unified and resilient human culture by describing the growth of international expeditions and big science. Finally, the narrative turns to the Cold War and international competitiveness, while simultaneous advancements in technology, such as SCUBA, made the ocean ever more accessible to those with a sense of adventure and discovery. Adler closes with an optimistic view of modern oceanography and its efforts to increase accessibility and international cooperation as humans confront the challenges associated with changes in the ocean and climate. Ultimately, what makes this book compelling is not just the fascinating
bulk of advice given in the book resonates with sound best practices and an interwoven theme of preparedness and redundancy that are the hallmarks of well-found ocean voyages. The collection of photographs printed in the book aptly illustrates the diversity of watercraft and types of individuals who have successfully completed major ocean passages, including world-circling voyages. It suffers, however, from the absence of illustrations and diagrams that could have simplified otherwise cumbersome descriptions such as global wind patterns, or added significantly to the safety of the vessel, like an example of a through-hull diagram or safety plan. In this instance, pictures would have done a better job than a thousand words. While Ocean Sailing would not make my short list of books to accompany me offshore (I am a professional mariner), it provides a solid departure point for those who are contemplating more serious voyaging than the occasional coastal cruise and who are beginning to explore the idea of offshore voyaging. As a source of inspiration
The Voices of Marine Mammals William E. Schevill and William A. Watkins: Pioneers in Bioacoustics
The legacy of two scientists who changed the way we think about life in the oceans. store.whalingmuseum.org 508-997-0046 ext. 127
SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
history of oceanography, but the human hopes, dreams, and fears associated with our shared journey of discovery as we probe the secrets of the deep. Captain Christopher Nolan Woods Hole, Massachusetts The Sea Journal: Seafarers’ Sketchbooks by Huw Lewis-Jones (Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2019, 304pp, illus, index, isbn 978-1-4521-8115-8; $40hc) Readers will delight in Lewis-Jones’s remarkable collection of artistic works by an eclectic group of voyagers, some famous and others less well-known, all carefully curated and introduced with their own succinct and informative one-page biographies. This is an admirable labor of love that involved tenacious sleuthing and methodical research, first to uncover the sketchbooks and then provide proper introductions to the more than 60 creators. Lewis-Jones has three important messages to deliver in his book: First, in highlighting the work of such a broad group of seafarers across social station, space and time, the author would like the reader to see that seafarers have a unique perspective that may best be captured through images, either meticulously detailed for a specific audience or quick sketches for personal recollection or later reference. Life at sea encourages an attention to detail in one’s surroundings that is hard to find in other settings, particularly for long periods of time. Second, seafarers are an eclectic group, spurred on by a variety of motivations with wide-ranging goals. Their perspectives are multifaceted and often complex, and their visual representations reflect this. Sometimes they are marked by the prevailing mores of their time, but periodically, these illustrations, sketches, and paintings have proven timeless in their representation of human interactions with the natural ocean environment. Finally, and perhaps most compellingly, LewisJones highlights how the act of creating a visual representation of a place, moment, or idea is a process that marshals all of the senses to the task and elicits most, if not all, of those sensations in the viewer across space and time. This last element is perhaps on display most clearly in the insertion of short essays from several contributing writ-
ers and artists. These pieces offer a contextualization of the materials presented, offering suggestions on how to take in and process what the varied sketchbooks offer to a reader or represent to the creator. One particularly moving passage comes from the entry by Peter “Spider” Anderson. He writes: “Being an artist at sea, an artist anywhere, is about being alert to possibility…Always looking and making marks, suggestive little sketches, not necessarily masterpieces, but things to help you remember.” Anderson goes on to say that “[a] sketch is a visual quotation,” that, among other things, may “inspire a memory and send you off on a new journey,” While there is much to admire in this book, there are a few choices that LewisJones makes that may puzzle the reader. Perhaps intended to avoid giving any one person greater significance than another, the entries are arranged in alphabetical order by surname. This makes for some confusion if the reader approaches the book as something to be read from beginning to end, but that hardly seems to be the author’s intent. Still, without previous knowledge or good recall of names, it would be hard to return to a particular entry easily. A chronological ordering, or, perhaps, arranging works by theme might have facilitated both processing the content of the entries and easily returning to them for later reference. Likewise, some choices seem somewhat celebratory of the more famous voyages of discovery or national heroes. For instance, three men—Da Gama, Drake and Nelson—are interesting choices for this collection given that the actual sketches highlighted were done by someone else. They are also praised with little thought to the fraught nature of the concept of Europeans “discovering” the rest of the world. The lack of recognition and discussion of these and other expeditions as intentionally conquering processes followed by, or even inspired by, the exploitation of human and environmental resources is problematic. That said, with so much primary material contained in these pages, readers have plenty of leeway to bring their own interpretations to bear. Craig Marin Woods Hole, Massachusetts
Went to the Devil
A Yankee Whaler in the Slave Trade
anthony j. connors
Preserving Maritime America A Cultural History of the Nation’s Great Maritime Museums
james m. lindgren
Breaking the Banks
Representations and Realities in New England Fisheries, 1866–1966
Amherst & Boston www.umass.edu/umpress
SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020 47
NATIONAL MARITIME HISTORICAL SOCIETY 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 Henry L. & Grace Doherty Charitable Fdn. Dominion Energy Exelon In Memory of Ignatius Galgan ADM & Mrs. Jay L. Johnson, USN (Ret.) A rthur M. K imberly Trust Hon. John Lehman In Memor y of H. F. Lenfest R ichardo R . Lopes Guy E . C. Maitland McAllister Towing & Transportation Co., Inc. Ronald L. Oswald ADM Robert J. Papp Jr., USCG (Ret.) Estate of Walter J. Pettit Sr. In Memory of Capt. Joseph Ramsey, USMM In Memory of Charles A. Robertson Treecie & Ding Schoonmaker Marjorie B. Shorrock In Memory of Howard Slotnick Capt. Cesare Sorio John Stobart Dr. Timothy J. Runyan William H. White Jean Wort Wynn Resorts BENEFACTORS ARS Investment Partners Chesapeake Bay Foundation VADM Dirk Debbink, USN (Ret.) Richard T. du Moulin Elite Island Resorts David S. Fowler Kristen Greenaway Don & Kathy Hardy Huntington Ingalls Industries J. D. Power Family VADM Al Konetzni Jr., USN (Ret.) Dr. Jennifer London CAPT James A. Noone, USN (Ret.) The Pollin Group, LLC Russell S. Reynolds Jr. David & Susan Rockefeller Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Rutherford Jr. Scarano Boat Building, Inc. 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 Byers Foundation RADM Joseph F. Callo, USN (Ret.) Elaine Cannon Dayton Carr CAPT Charles Todd Creekman Jr., USN (Ret.) Capt. Howard R. Hill Jr. Royal Holly Ruth R. Hoyt/Anne H. Jolley Foundation, Inc. Thomas & Deborah Lawrence Robert Leary Miles Pincus Pritzker Military Foundation Sidney Stern Memorial Trust Star Clipper Cruises SPONSORS Paul M. Aldrich American Bureau of Shipping American Maritime Congress 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 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 Cynthia & Gerry Dubey Dr. William S. & Donna Dudley EMR Southern Recycling The Edgar & Geraldine Feder Foundation, Inc. Flagship Olympia Foundation Mrs. D. L. Fleischmann In Memory of D. Harry W. Garschagen Burchenal Green William J. Green A DM Jonat ha n Greener t, USN (Ret.) Ca rol Gold feder Cat ha rine Gu i her John Gu mmere Rober t S. Ha g ge Jr. CAPT Roger P. Hartgen, USCG (Ret.) Charles Hinnant Hornbeck Offshore Todd Hornbeck Independence Seaport Museum Neil E. Jones RDML Eric C. Jones, USCG Benjamin Katzenstein H. Kirke Lathrop Rob Lopes Cyrus C. Lauriat Norman Liss The MacPherson Fund, Inc. 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 Janis Nagy Navy League of the US New York Yacht Club Capt. Eric Nielsen Oceaneering International Christopher Otorowski COL Bruce E. Patterson, USA The Betty Sue and Art Peabody Fund Hon. S. Jay Plager John Rich Charles Raskob Robinson Safran Turbomeca USA Lee H. Sandwen George Schluderberg Shipbuilders Council of America CDR William H. Skidmore, USN (Ret.) Skuld North America, Inc. Stonehouse, Inc. Daniel R. Sukis Transportation Institute Alix Thorne William Van Loo George & Anne Walker Waterford Group Daniel Whalen Barbara B. Wing Michael M. Wiseman CAPT Channing M. Zucker, USN (Ret.) DONORS Silas Antony, Jr. Lawrence Behr W. Frank Bohlen Eleanor F. Bookwalter Carroll Brooks James O. Burri John Caddell II RADM Nevin P. Carr Jr., USN (Ret.) Bradley D. Conway Gerald F. B. Cooper Dr. John Finerty Mr. & Mrs. Eugene P. Finger Robert P. Fisher Jr. Daniel Gallagher Mary Habstritt Elizabeth Holden Matthew T. Howard J. Russell Jinishian Gallery Robert F. Kamm Denise R. Krepp Mary Burrichter & Bob Kierlin Brett M. Klyver Kobrand Corp. & Marco Sorio James P. Latham Paul Jay Lewis Frederick C. Leiner Man Tech Thomas McKerr 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 Joanne O’Neil CAPT Richard T. O’Shea, USMC William Palmer III Paul C. Pennington Philip B. Persinger Carla R. Phillips Harry & Susan Rein Mr. & Mrs. William P. Rice CAPT W. E. Richardson, USN (Ret.) Mike Roberts In Memory of Capt. Bert Rogers Vincent Monte-Sano Mr. & Mrs. John R. Sherwood III Gerould R. Stange Philip E. Stolp Diane & Van Swearingin Sandra Ulbrich Roy Vander Putten Watch Hill Yacht Club Thomas Wayne Gerald Weinstein Dr. David Winkler Richard C. Wolfe PATRONS Benjamin Ackerly Georgios Andreadis Deborah Antoine John Appleton Captain William M. Ayers Carter S. Bacon Jr. Ernest T. Bartol Kenneth G. Bastian Charles R . Beaudrot Jr. C A PT R . A. Bowling, USN (Ret.) James H. Brandi RADM David C. Brown, USMS (Ret.) Jerry M. Brown Robert P. Burke Jose O. Busto Harris Clark Mark Class Dr. Gerard J. Clifford Jr. John C. Couch Jack Creighton Michael Cutler Morgan Daly Robert Ian Danic Anthony De Lellis Jr. C. Henry Depew Capt. Robertson P. Dinsmore Michael F. Dugan Richard H. Dumas Reynolds duPont Jr. Gary Eddey MD CAPT Mitchell Edson, USN (Ret.) Egan Maritime Institute Peter Q. Eschweiler Marc Evans Ken Ewell Colin Ferenbach Ben P. Fisher Jr. Murray Fisher James J. Foley Jr. HMC Philip E. Galluccio, USN (Ret.) Donald A. Garand Peter C. & Kathy R. Gentry Capt. Dwight Gertz Susan Gibbs James R. Gifford George Grace Marc Grishham Lee Gruzen David T. Guernsey Jr. 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 MD Timothy A. Ingraham Andrew MacAoidh Jergens Gary Jobson Richard Julian Robert C. Kennedy Jr. Robert Kenyon James L. Kerr James & Barbara Kerr Mr. & Mrs. Chester W. Kitchings Jr. R. Joyce Kodis Peter R. La Dow Ted Lahey CDR C. R. Lampman, USN (Ret.) John L. Langill Chris Lautz W. Peter Lind Robert Lindmark Louis & Linda Liotti James L. Long Com. Chip Loomis III Babcock MacLean Lawrence Manson Marchant Maritime Maritime Heritage Prints Douglas & Diane Maass Patrick McDonald Mr. & Mrs. Alan McKie Capt. & Mrs. James J. McNamara Dr. Arthur M. Mellor April Merrell Sally & Greg Merz 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 Alan O’Grady Roger Ottenbach William L. Palmer Jr. Michael Palmieri Richard G. Pelley Alan D. Peterson Nathaniel Philbrick Peter B. Poulsen Ann Prince David Prohaska Joseph Quinn Andrew A. Radel CAPT Michael J. Rauworth, USCG (Ret.) Phineas Reeves Reed Robertson William M. Rosen Capt. Carlos A. Rosende 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 RADM Cindy Thebaud, USN (Ret.) Capt. Raymond Thombs Memorial Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation Craig Thompson Christopher N. Thorpe Charles Tobin Capt. John Torjusen Steven J. Traut Peter N. Trieloff Russell R. Tripp Jacobina Trump CAPT Daniel E. Turbeville, USN (Ret.) Robert J. Tyd LT Bill Verge, USCG (Ret.) Carol Vinall Terry Walton Dr. John Dix Wayman Jeremy Weirich Roberta E. Weisbrod, PhD James R. Williamson RDML Jesse A. Wilson Jr., USN (Ret.) William L. Womack In Memory of Woodson K. Woods 48 SEA HISTORY 171, SUMMER 2020
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Pg. 10 Fiddler’s Green Howard Slotnick, Woodson K. Woods III, Charles A. Robertson and Clive E. Cussler • Pg. 14 The Mayflower Factor: How T...