Saturday, October 22, 2016


22 October 2016: (this is a lightly edited update of a post from last year - but nonetheless, appropriate for today.) Yesterday we celebrated the 219th birthday of America's Ship of State!  USS Constitution was launched 21 October in 1797. Happy birthday, old girl . . . or should I say, "Old Ironsides." Yes, the Hartt Shipyard in east Boston slid our Ship of State into the waters of Boston Harbor 219 years ago!

Her launch is depicted in this glorious image by renowned marine artist, Paul Garnett. It currently resides in the permanent collections of USS Constitution Museum, Boston.

She was built as a result of the Naval Act of 1794 signed by George Washington in recognition of the fact that our newly independent country needed a navy to deal with foreign enemies, most notably (at that time) the Barbary Pirates of North Africa. Six frigates were authorized and built in varying locations including Boston (Constitution), Philadelphia (United States), Baltimore (Constellation), and others. Three of the six were designated as "heavy" frigates, meaning that they would carry at least 44 guns which would fire a 24 pound iron ball; and three as lighter frigates of 36 to 38 guns. As a matter of practicality, none ever carried their rated allotment; it was always more, sometimes by as many as ten!

Constitution fought at Tripoli, the third flagship sent over to deal with the pirates - Edward Preble was the commodore in charge of that fleet and acted most aggressively against the Barbary corsairs. But it was in the War of 1812 that Constitution really earned her stripes . . . and her nickname, Old Ironsides.

USS Constitution finishing off HMS Guerierre
 After a very bad two months of war against England, the ship, under Isaac Hull, encountered and defeated HMS Guerierre in single ship combat. This was the battle in which she won her famous nickname. It was a glorious and most welcome victory for the Navy and more generally, the United States following lots of bad news from the Western frontier. Shortly thereafter, under William Bainbridge, Constitution headed south and found HMS Java off South America. A sharp battle ensued and Old Ironsides once again was victorious.

Constitution (foreground) vs Java
Perhaps one of her most famous fights occurred in February of 1815, technically after the war was over, against two Royal Navy frigates, HMS Cyanne and HMS Levant. She took them both but Levant was recaptured by the British before she got back to a U.S. port as a prize.
After serving as a training ship, barracks, and very nearly being scrapped, she assumed her role as good will ambassador, a role she has performed brilliantly for many years from her berth in historic Charlestown Navy Yard. She was named "Ship of State" a couple of years ago and continues to shine! She sailed under her own sails for the first time in over 100 years in October of 1997, in celebration of her 200th birthday. I was there! Here's a couple of pictures of that amazing event!
in the image to the left, you might notice the Blue Angels over top!
It was an awe inspiring event and then, in recognition of the 200th anniversary of her victory over HMS Guerierre, she sailed again in 2012, albeit in a very light breeze and remained in Boston Harbor. USS Constitution Museum, in the Navy Yard, acts as the "voice" of Constitution and is privately funded, not being an agency of the federal government. the museum is marvelous, and not to be missed if you find yourself in Boston!

USS Constitution is the OLDEST SHIP AFLOAT IN THE WORLD. What about HMS Victory, I heard someone mumble? Well, Victory is indeed older, but she is also resting comfortably in concrete in Portsmouth Royal Dockyard in England where she just finished a refit and new paint job. Constitution is usually afloat and indeed, gets underway, albeit with a tug alongside. And even though she now is undergoing her own refit in historic Dry Dock #1 at the Charlestown Navy Yard, she will be refloated in a couple of years and once again, be doing her famous "harbor cruises" in Boston. Incidentally, should you be interested in a live image of Constitution in dry dock. Here's a link:
                   Live camera of USS Constitution

Incidentally, Constitution is carried on the rolls of commissioned U.S. Navy and is manned by active duty Navy sailors and officers! 

"I feel a strong predelection [sic] for the Constitution. I think  . . . she will be a most fortunate ship; and I am sometimes good in my predictions . . ." Tobias Lear, consul general to the Barbary Regencies in a letter to Capt. John Rodgers, 16 October 1804.

                                       Fair Winds,
                                                Old Salt
PS Maritime Maunder has now passed 21,200 readers worldwide

Friday, October 14, 2016


14 October 2014  Discovered some six years ago in Canada's Nunavut waters near Cambridge Bay, a team of Norwegian archeologists have raised from her icy grave and begun to stabilize the wreck of what had been Roald Amundsen's Arctic exploration vessel, Maud.


"It's a beautiful ship and she's very strong," says Jan Wanggaard, the project manager for the recovery team.

"We're very happy now that we can see the Maud is in an extremely good state."

The Maud’s egg-like shape helped preserve its structure under heavy ice pressure, says Wanggaard. (Submitted by Jan Wanggaard)

The Maud was launched on June 7, 1917, and captained by Amundsen during his 1918-20 expedition into the Northeast Passage above Russia. It was sold in 1925, and sank in 1930 after getting trapped in the ice near Cambridge Bay. 

And despite being submerged in Arctic waters for more than 80 years, the ship has maintained much of its integrity.

Wanggaard and his team have been coming to the area to work on the wreck every summer for six years.

In June, the team began inflating air bags and balloons around the ship. Their experience with an unsuccessful lift last year helped them come better prepared with additional flotation devices. 

Finally in July, the Maud floated for the first time since it sank.

After a month of cleaning the Maud starts to reveal its beautiful details. (Submitted by Jan Wanggaard)

Throughout July and August, the team worked on placing the ship on top of a barge. And for most of September their work consisted of cleaning out the inside of the ship.

"She was quite covered with mud and other debris," says Wanggaard.

The Maud now rests on a barge near the coast. Over the winter it will freeze in place.

"That is actually good for the Maud, because she needs to dry," says Wanggaard.

"It's worth taking her back to protect her for the future, because sooner or later she would have been completely destroyed by nature."

The Maud's excellent shape gives Wanggaard and his team renewed hope that it can begin the journey back to Norway next summer when the team returns to Cambridge Bay.

Their task next year will be to stabilize the ship on the barge and make it seaworthy.
Thanks to Crystal Safadi and CBC for contributing to this post.
Until next time,
                                Fair Winds,
                                            Old Salt


Friday, October 7, 2016


7 October 2016: A while back we posted a story about Parks Canada discovering the whereabouts of one of the two Franklin Expedition ships lost in the ice of Canada during their quest for the fabled Northwest Passage. (mid 19th Century). The two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror vanished with nary a trace and all hands were lost, some while trying to trek across the ice to some form of civilization. None made it.
Parks Canada discovered Erebus last year and have dove the wreck confirming it's provenance. At that time, Terror remained lost. Now she's been found and her identity confirmed. An interesting fact, possibly, is that HMS Terror was originally a bomb ship used by the British in the War of 1812 against Fort McHenry in mid September 1814 and which inspired Francis Scott Key to pen what would become our National Anthem. She was converted for use in the Arctic and made 2 expeditions there.

HMS Terror on her 1st Arctic voyage

 The announcement from Parks Canada:

The Canadian Government has confirmed that it has in fact found the wreck of the HMS Terror, the second ship of the ill-fated 1845 Franklin Expedition to find the Northwest Passage.

Parks Canada confirmed Monday the wreck located in Nunavut’s Terror Bay just off King William Island is that of HMS Terror. The confirmation was made by Parks Canada’s Underwater Archeology Team based on a side-scan sonar survey and three dives to the wreck, which included additional surveys of the wreck using multi-beam echosounder.

Earlier this month, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that a team from the Arctic Research Foundation, a private and non-profit group participating in the hunt for the famous shipwreck, had discovered the HMS Terror in pristine condition at the bottom of a bay. The Canadian Government was yet to confirm the report however.

Franklin’s first ship, the HMS Erebus, was discovered in 2014 approximately 100 km south of Terror Bay.

Sir John Franklin along with his 128 crew aboard the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus all died after the vessels became stuck in ice during a search for the Arctic passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The findings help shed light on one Canada’s greatest mysteries.
Truly an amazing discovery!
Until next time,
                                   Fair Winds,
                                            Old Salt

Thursday, September 29, 2016


29 September 2016: It is possible (I did not check) that we posted this last year, but as the event happens only once every five years, and it is beyond spectacular, we thought it might bear another (if indeed we have previously posted it) look. The following images from SAIL AMSTERDAM 2015 are amazing, some real "eye-candy" for those who love the sea and ships.

Every five years a parade of ships, 'SAIL Amsterdam' takes place. In August thousands of vessels, from small sailboats to large replicas of caravels, full rigged ships, and training vessels arrive at the IJ bay north of the city and then pass to the capital of the Netherlands: in 2015 IT involved 8,000 vessels and millions of spectators. I do not think this "show" occurs anywhere else on earth! Enjoy!




 Hope you enjoyed these great pictures of an amazing event. Well done, Amsterdam!
Until next time,
                             Fair Winds,
                                       Old Salt

Thursday, September 22, 2016


22 September 2016: Saw this quite interesting article written by Melissa Hobson this morning and thought it would interest many of our readers. I witnessed, a few years back, the sinking of a former US Navy ship off the beach in Grand Cayman and subsequently dove the wreck (It wasn't a wreck - it was in pristine shape, just "cleaned up" so as to prevent ecological damage). It is quite a sight to watch a ship do down, and at the event I mentioned above, there were huge throngs of spectators, both on the beach and on boats around the site. Here's a video of another ship being sunk (July 2016) to make a reef for recreational divers off the coast of Florida (click the name below):

Ana Cecila

Now, here's the article by Ms. Hobson (lightly edited) I mentioned earlier. I hope you will enjoy reading it and seeing some of the wonderful images included.

"Since I qualified as a diver nearly 10 years ago, I’ve been lucky enough to see more incredible marine life than I can name – from finding a turtle resting under some coral on my first ever night dive in the Great Barrier Reef to coming eyeball to eyeball with grisly-looking ragged tooth sharks in South Africa.

As well as the fascinating creatures you might spot on a dive, the non-living things can be a huge draw for divers too. Namely: shipwrecks – after some time underwater they gradually begin to deteriorate. The wreck becomes both a historical capsule frozen in time (with artefacts that went down with the ship – such as tools, maps in cabinets or medicine packets – still identifiable) and a diver’s underwater playground that changes over time and blends in with the marine habitat as it deteriorates and coral grows over it.

According to the United Nations, there are over three million wrecks at the bottom of the ocean. Thousands of these are popular scuba diving sites and many of those in shallower waters (such as the Liberty Shipwreck in Tulamben, Bali) can also be visited by snorkelers.
"There are many ways in which a ship might have come to its final resting place on the seabed. By their nature, many wrecks will have been victim to a misfortunate incident: an accident or collision, a storm, warfare, piracy or just human error. Only last month I visited the wreck of the MV Christina with Scuba Safaris in Nevis – a passenger ferry that tragically sank on the crossing from St Kitts and has been preserved as a memorial site. Chillingly, some human remains are still visible as not all the bodies could be recovered from the wreckage.
"Yet, not all shipwrecks sink as a result of an accident or misfortune – many are put there on purpose. A recent example is the Ana Cecilia: a 170-foot cargo ship was sunk in Palm Beaches on 13 July 2016. She was once used to smuggle drugs into America and was seized when an investigation discovered more than $10 million of cocaine on board.
"Just ten days after the scuttling of the Ana Cecelia (video above) to make for an ecotourism attraction, another new diving attraction was created in Greater Fort Lauderdale: on 23 July 2016, a 324-foot environmental tanker, Lady Luck, became the latest addition to be sunk at The Shipwreck Park in Florida. Image below.

The underwater ‘cultural arts park’ is already home to 16 other wrecks but Lady Luck will be a special attraction: as well as exploring the captain’s deck, engine room and 16 staterooms, divers will be able to see the work of renowned local artist Dennis MacDonald, including a faux casino, on the deck. Lady Luck is expected to boost tourism to the area by attracting 35,000 divers each year."

USS Oriskany (aircraft carrier)
Hope you enjoyed this. Until next time,
                         Fair Winds,
                                  Old Salt

Thursday, September 15, 2016


15 September 2016: 186 years ago, the United States Frigate Constitution had been destined for the scrapyard, her timbers likely to be used for a more modern, updated warship. A young medical student, Oliver Wendell Holmes, heard of the disgrace and, moved by his outrage, composed the following verse which was published in the newspaper and credited with saving this paragon of United States supremacy on the seas.

A bit about Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. first:

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Holmes was educated at Phillips Academy and Harvard College. After graduating from Harvard in 1829, he briefly studied law before turning to the medical profession. He began writing poetry at an early age; one of his most famous works, "Old Ironsides", was published in 1830 and was influential in the eventual preservation of the USS Constitution. Following training at the prestigious medical schools of Paris, Holmes was granted his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1836. He taught at Dartmouth Medical School before returning to teach at Harvard and, for a time, served as dean there. During his long professorship, he became an advocate for various medical reforms and notably posited the controversial idea that doctors were capable of carrying puerperal fever from patient to patient. Holmes retired from Harvard in 1882 and continued writing poetry, novels and essays until his death in 1894.

Constitution 1812
Constitution 2012

The Poem:

"Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
and many an eye has danced to see
that banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout
and burst the cannon's roar -
the meteor of the ocean air
shall sweep the clouds no more!

Her deck, once red with hero's blood
where knelt the vanquished foe
when winds were hurrying o'er the flood
and waves were white below
No more shall feel the victor's tread
or know the conquered knee
the harpies of the shore shall pluck
the Eagle of the sea!

Oh, better that her shattered bulk
should sink beneath the wave;
her thunder shook the mighty deep
and there should be her grave:
nail to the mast her holy flag,
set every thread-bare sail,
and give her to the God of storms,
the lightning and the gale!                      
                                       September 16th, 1830

Well, it worked! Here she is just last year entering dry dock in Charlestown Navy Yard for her periodic overhaul.

Until next time,
                             Fair winds,
                                   Old Salt

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


6 September 2016: There have been several posts on Maritime Maunder regarding the inefficacy, poor design, and complex structure of the new LCS (Littoral Combat Ships) which were touted to be the  forerunner of the "new Navy." With changeable "modules" for different combat roles (they never worked), small crew, and diesel / turbine power, the ships were touted as the "cutting edge" of technology and foresight. Not so much! We received some "push-back" about our stance on these vessels from folks who must have been more hopeful than knowledgeable. 
Littoral Combat Ships actually underway

There have been a continual string of breakdowns of these fragile vessels, some as early in their careers as occurring on their shakedown cruise. And now, the fourth of them has failed, to the extent it had to be towed across the Pacific to Hawaii for repair/rebuild/replacement of machinery.

The littoral combat ship USS Coronado is returning to Pearl Harbor from the Western Pacific after experiencing an engineering casualty last week, officials with the Navy's Third Fleet confirmed.

The incident comes just days after the Navy acknowledged that another littoral combat ship, the USS Freedom, had sustained significant damage to one of its diesel engines.

The Coronado departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Aug. 26 for an independent deployment to the Western Pacific, Third Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry told in a statement.

"USS Coronado (LCS 4) experienced an engineering casualty today while transiting to the Western Pacific," Perry said in the statement. "The crew took precautionary measures and the ship is currently returning to Pearl Harbor to determine the extent of the problem and conduct repairs."

The Coronado is the fourth littoral combat ship to be sidelined by an engineering casualty in less than a year, following breakdowns by the USS Freedom in July and the USS Milwaukee and USS Fort Worth in December and January, respectively.

However, the ship is the first of the Independence-class littoral combat ships, made by Austal USA, to suffer such an issue. The other ships are all part of the Freedom Class, made by Lockheed Martin Corp. The news of the Coronado's breakdown was first reported by Navy Times.

Third Fleet officials did not elaborate on the nature of the Coronado's engineering casualty, but said it appears to be unrelated to recent propulsion problems involving the Fort Worth and Freedom.

The Milwaukee required repairs after a clutch failed to disengage while the ship switched from gas turbine to diesel engine systems, resulting in damage to the clutch gears and forcing the crew to cut short a transit from San Diego to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and receive a tow to Virginia for repairs.

And so it goes...

Until next time,
                                Fair Winds,
                                      Old Salt