Sunday, July 23, 2017

TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT

23 JULY 2017: The day/night has finally come. We have written about the restoration of USS Constitution many times over the past two years while she has been undergoing a major refit in Dry Dock #1 in Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston. Tonight, about midnight, she will be floated out of the dock to return to her berth in the Navy Yard where she will have the "finishing touches" to her remarkable restoration completed. As I have mentioned before, the USS Constitution Museum has had, for the duration of the overhaul, a live camera on the 3rd floor showing a new image of the ship about every 20 minutes. Here is the view from midday today: 

As you can plainly see, Old Ironsides is looking new and ready to resume her role as America's Ship of State in Boston Harbor. 

The Museum released to U tube a day or so ago a video of the underwater hull of the ship which, after tonight, will (hopefully) not be seen again for 20 years!
Here's the link: 

Constitution in Dry Dock #1

When you view this video, you can see the shiny new copper sheathing, her new draft markings, and her still original keel. 

Should you wish to view the refloating tonight, the Museum will be live streaming on Facebook and will also be showing the view from the constitutioncam in the museum. It will likely be a great show! 

The address for the Constitutioncam is: https://ussconstitutionmuseum.org/restoration/constitution-cam/  (you have to copy and paste that) and beginning at 1500 EDT today, the image will refresh every 5 minutes.

Until next time, 
                                Fair Winds,
                                      Old Salt


 
 

Friday, July 14, 2017

OLD IRONSIDES COMPLETES 2 YEAR OVERHAUL

14 July 2017: USS Constitution will be completing her 26 month overhaul/restoration and returning to the waters of Boston Harbor in just under 10 days.
It was just over two years ago when the event depicted above took place and USS Constitution entered Dry Dock #1 in Charlestown Navy Yard to undergo her "every 20 year" overhaul.


Her copper sheathing which protected her hull from worms and destructive elements in the sea was removed and replaced - they are small (about 2' square) sheets which must be hammered onto the hull by hand - and she received new draft markings fore and aft.


Her guns and their carriages were lifted off, refurbished and new carriages built was necessary.

Her rig was overhauled by skilled artisans of the Naval History and Heritage Command Detachment Boston, replacing or restoring as indicated. 

In other words, the ship received a "keel to masthead" refurbishing that will serve her for the next twenty years, when she will again enter the dry dock and do it all again. And, with fresh paint on her topsides, she looks like new once again!

The dock will be flooded and the ship returned to her berth in the Charlestown Navy Yard after dark on 23 July. The USS Constitution Museum has a webcam mounted on the 3rd floor of the their building adjacent to the dry dock which has been showing a stream of pictures taken about 20 minutes apart of the entire process and will surely be showing the refloating process. The site is ussconstitutionmuseum.org for the Museum and simple click on the "constitutioncam" link to view the images. If you find yourself in Boston on 23 July, be sure to stop by the Museum and see the ship, stay for the festivities, and witness a "once in a generation" event of Old Ironsides returning to the water. 

Until next time, 
                                      Fair Winds, 
                                         Old Salt
 

Monday, July 3, 2017

MORE ON HMS TERROR AND EREBUS

3 July 2017: we have written several posts on the discovery of HMS Terror and HMS Erebus in the Canadian Arctic and have yet another update - a kind of sad one (should there be something sadder than two ships being frozen into the ice and all hands dying gruesome deaths, some freezing to death and others....well, worse). Controversy about ownership of the artifacts, the wrecks themselves, and display rights have dominated the maritime news sporadically since the ships were discovered in the waters of the Arctic..... 
To refresh your memory, HMS Terror and Erebus were two ships in the Franklin expedition sent out to find the elusive Northwest Passage in 1845 from England. 
 
HMS Erebus in better times


There were never heard from again, and the ship sent to find them, returned empty-handed..... It was not until a few years ago that maritime archeologists from Parks Canada found the wrecks (see map) 


 
and began recovering some artifacts. You can look back on several Maritime Maunder posts for further details.  

Now, another piece of the story has come to light, written about in this news article by Anita Singh in the British publication, the Telegraph News. 
                                       ~~~~~~~~~~


When Captain Sir John Franklin’s ships vanished in the Arctic on a mission to discover the North West Passage, the story gripped Victorian England.
HMS Erebus and HMS Terror became trapped in ice and the 129 men on board waited in vain for rescue, before finally setting out on foot in a doomed attempt to reach civilisation.

A previously unpublished letter throws new light on how the story was followed back home, laying bare the fears of the sailors’ families.
The letter has been donated to the National Maritime Museum, where a new exhibition on the Franklin expedition will open on July 14.
It was written by the parents of John Diggle, a cook on HMS Terror, and sent to his ship in the vain hope of reaching him. It was returned, stamped ‘undeliverable’.

Mr and Mrs Diggle had read with horror that the ship was frozen in ice and the men succumbing to scurvy.

Dated January 1848 -  - the letter begins: “Dear Son, I wright these few lines in hopes to find you and all your Shipmates in both Ships well… but our fears his wee shall Never see you again seeing the Account in the Newspaper how you have been Situated what with been frozen inn and having that dreadful Disorder the Schervey [sic].” [Scurvy - ed.]
That same month, HMS Plover had set out in search of the ship. The letter went on: “We trust in God when HMS Plover reaches you our thoughts will be flusterated and joyful news it will be for us to hear on her Return to England that you and all the Crew are well. Please God it may be so [sic].”

The letter was donated to the museum by the Diggle family, and will be among hundreds of items on display.




The mystery surrounding the ships’ final resting place lasted until 2014, when Canadian researchers found the wreck of the Erebus on the sea bed. Terror was found two years later.
The sole written record of the men’s fate was a note found in a cairn on King William Island, written in April 1848. It said only 105 men remained alive and they were setting out on foot. None made it to safety.
Reports by local Inuits that the men had resorted to cannibalism were dismissed in England, with Charles Dickens writing that they would never have resorted to such “dreadful” actions.
However, forensic analysis of bones more than a century later provided confirmation, with some scraped clear of marrow and skulls cleaved open in order to reach the brains.
A lifeboat was also recovered with two skeletons on board. They had packed towels, scented soap, silver cutlery, and a novel

                                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                            

 There is bound to be more on this fascinating story as more artifacts are recovered and exhibits open in England (Canada is NOT happy about that!) and we will try to keep you posted.

Until next time, 
                                         Fair winds,
                                           Old Salt

PS To our American readers, we at Maritime Maunder wish you a most happy Independence Day and hope that you might take moment from your barbecue, beach, and partying to reflect on just what we are celebrating!