Sunday, July 24, 2016


24 July 2016: OK - I know it's been ten days since the last post.... sorry, my only excuse is it's summer and I have been busy - not even on the computer in about 3 or 4 days. So there. Get over it! Maybe today's post will be of some interest to you! It is pretty special, I think.

This past week, in one of my favorite places on earth, the Royal Dockyards in Portsmouth England, the Mary Rose exhibit opened, the culmination of some 20+ years of conservation and preservation. While the ship has been "viewable" in the past, it was shrouded in plastic sheeting and being sprayed continuously with a mixture of water and glycol, to leach the salt out of the wood. 
Mary Rose 2006
After 34 years, one of the most extensive conservation projects in history has come to a close as the salvaged remains of Mary Rose have been placed on full public display. For the first time visitors to the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, England, will have unobstructed views of the flagship of King Henry VIII’s navy that sank in battle nearly 500 years ago.

On July 19, 1545, England’s King Henry VIII stood on the ramparts of Southsea Castle and watched as his country came under attack. The monarch gazed out from his newly constructed citadel, which guarded the entrance to Portsmouth Harbor on England’s south coast, at the greatest foreign threat ever faced by his country during his long reign. Although his navy was badly outnumbered by a fleet of 200 French ships that was even larger than the Spanish Armada that would strike nearly a half-century later, Henry VIII took comfort as he watched his beloved warship, Mary Rose, engage the invaders.

Henry VIII had very little naval power in his arsenal when he assumed the throne in 1509, which left England vulnerable to a waterborne attack from the European continent. The king ordered a military buildup, which included the construction in Portsmouth of the state-of-the-art, carrack-type warship Mary Rose, built with wood harvested from 600 enormous oak trees. Henry VIII’s flagship—which he christened Mary Rose perhaps in honor of his sister, Mary Tudor, but more likely as an homage to the Virgin Mary—became one of the most feared on the open seas.
After surviving three wars with the French, the 34-year-old warship was a grizzled veteran by the time she was sent out in July 1545 to once again fight the enemy at the Battle of the Solent. From his perch Henry VIII watched in horror, however, as his nautical pride and joy suddenly rolled to her starboard side. Seawater gushed through the open gun ports, and in quick order Mary Rose slipped below the cobalt surface of the Solent, the strait separating the Isle of Wight from mainland England, taking more than 400 men with her. Only 35 survived the sinking of the seemingly invincible Mary Rose. Even today the cause of the ship’s demise—whether a mistake by the captain or crew, enemy fire or an ill-timed gust of wind—remains a mystery.
For centuries, Mary Rose rested undisturbed on the seabed until it was rediscovered in 1971. Divers found that the warship’s muddy grave had preserved the wreck and prevented her erosion. In 1982, as 60 million viewers around the world tuned in on television to watch, Mary Rose was brought to the surface for the first time in 437 years. The following year, what remained of the solid oak ship was put on public display in Portsmouth, the city from where the warship had been launched in 1511.
Inside a massive room in which temperature and humidity were carefully regulated, conservators began an extensive $44 million project to preserve Mary Rose’s remains. For nearly 20 years, conservators sprayed every inch of her solid oak beams with a fine mist of cold water and applied polyethylene glycol to the hull. Common pond snails were even used to eat wood-degrading organisms while leaving the oak itself untouched. Dr. Eleanor Schofield, the project’s head of conservation, told the Guardian newspaper that controlled air-drying removed more than 100 tons of water from the hull and surrounding air in the last three years. As the conservation work continued, visitors to the Mary Rose Museum could only sneak a peek at the wooden hulk through small viewing windows, and even then much of the vessel was surrounded by a network of scaffolding, pipes and air ducts.
The warship, however, has finally reached a stable state and the conservation work has been concluded. After a six-month closure in which the scaffolding and drying ducts were removed from the wreckage, the Mary Rose Museum has reopened following the unveiling of the restored flagship to the public exactly 471 years to the day after she sank from Henry VIII’s sight. After entering through an airlock, museum visitors on an elevated viewing platform can now come face-to-face with the historic ship without any obstructions, including glass. In addition to seeing the only 16th century warship on display in the world, museum visitors can view some of the 20,000 artifacts that have been salvaged from the wreckage site.
Mary Rose, conservation completed
Well worth the wait, I'd offer! Hope to get across the pond and see her first hand myself!
And, by the way, Maritime Maunder has now passed 17,000 readers! I am stunned and humbled...and we have not even hit our second anniversary! Thank you all for your support!
Until next time,
                           Fair Winds,
                                 Old Salt

Thursday, July 14, 2016


14 JULY 2016:
This is really short but I thought it would give a few of you the "Oh my God!" experience watching it... Going off the cat on an aircraft carrier is scary; imagine what it's like without the cat!

USS Eisenhower

E-2 Hawkeye

Some new video released by the U.S. Navy shows the moment an E-2C Hawkeye aircraft nearly plunged into the water from the deck of the USS Eisenhower after an arresting cable snapped during a landing on March 18, 2016.

The video, which has since gone viral with more than 1.6 million views, shows the terrifying moment the arresting cable snaps, causing the aircraft to overshoot the runway and fall below the Eisenhower’s landing deck, only to appear moments later as it climbed back into view.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that eight sailors were injured in the incident. The U.S. Navy has blamed the accident on human error and an improperly programmed valve, the paper says.

                                  E-2C almost hits the drink

I can only imagine what might have been happening in the cockpit!

Until next time, 

                              Fair winds,
                                    old Salt

Friday, July 8, 2016


8 July 2016: A few months ago, the U.S. Naval Institute did a survey of what people thought were the greatest inventions for the navy over the history of the world.... I know, pretty ambitious. But they received a surprising number of responses to the survey. The overall winner, perhaps not surprisingly (though I was a bit shocked at it) was the concept of the aircraft carrier and launching warplanes from the sea. Here is the rest of the story.

USS Essex (WWII)
The number one answer was “aircraft at sea on an aircraft carrier.” As noted by a reader, it “allows the Navy to be a strategic asset, it gives the leadership flexibility in responding to international crises. Aircraft are effective against air, surface and subsurface threats, which no other weapon system/platform can claim. It has a reach far beyond that of any gun, it can be more precise than any missile, and it is recallable if the circumstances of its employment change. Its versatility is unmatched in the history of naval technology.”

“The application of steam propulsion to ships,” noted one Proceedings writer, “restored the tactical mobility which had been lost when the oar was discarded for sail. It gave fleets a temporary superiority which momentarily offset their losses in relative strategic mobility.” Yet for decades seagoing vessels retained their sails, and steam was more or less an auxiliary apparatus. But over time, the effectiveness of steam against Mother Nature’s fury became more than evident, and sails were largely abandoned.

USS Nautilus
Much as steam propulsion permitted ships to move under their own power, nuclear propulsion, readers recognized, revolutionized surface and submarine tactics. Developers of atomic energy recognized the potential for nuclear power to provide long-term sources for energy without the need for refueling, as coal- and liquid-fueled ships had relied on for over a century. Nuclear energy, without the need for frequent refueling, offered the possibility of “continuous cruising at top speeds, unlimited cruising radii, and practically absolute freedom from fuel logistics.” Ships such as the USS Nautilus (SSN-571) and Enterprise (CVN-65) “allow[ed] navies to do what navies do best—project national power overseas in support of foreign policy.”

Our personal choice, here at Maritime Maunder, was the ability to navigate the oceans with accuracy and confidence. Without that all these other wonderful inventions become kind of useless! So our first choice was the compass followed by Harrison's Chronometer. 

The magnetic properties of lodestone were understood as early as 400 BC, and it is thought early Viking and Roman navigators harnessed those properties for navigation, but the earliest confirmed remarks to its use date to ancient China, and instances of “‘South-pointing chariots’ are said to have been used ashore in warfare about 800 A.D.” Chinese compasses and navigation charts, once described by one European as “very useful when once understood, and not so rude as their appearance indicates,” had spread to Europe by the 13th century, and in time allowed the Occident to largely control the seas for centuries.

But the compass and celestial navigation really only provided—with any accuracy—just half the necessities for navigation. In order to determine the longitude of one’s position at sea, an accurate timekeeper was needed. Thus, readers were quick to recognize the development of the chronometer by John Harrison in the 18th century as a monumental innovation in the history of navigation and the world’s navies.
 With that accurate timekeeper, built to withstand the rocking forces and other impacts of the shipboard environment, “the art of navigation became something more than the crude approximations of former times.”
So that's what the readers of the Naval Institute Proceedings thought - and what we at Maritime Maunder thought. We'll leave it up to you, our readers, to decide your own choice for the greatest (most useful) invention in the naval world. I guess the argument could go on indefinitely....
Until next time,
                                           Fair Winds,
                                                   Old Salt

Friday, July 1, 2016


1 JULY 2016: Since we have arrived at the weekend of celebrating the American Independence Day, 4th July, we thought it appropriate to post a piece about the US's newest piece of impressive military hardware - if one can call an 1,100+ foot aircraft carrier a "piece of hardware." But however you wish to refer to this beauty, here she is, and expected to be commissioned this summer.

It’s the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), the most expensive and most advanced warship ever built. The ship was christened in November 2013 and is scheduled to be commissioned this summer, said Lieutenant Jesus Uranga of the Navy Office of Information. It had been slated to be commissioned this month.
  The Naval behemoth can house more than 4,500 people and weighs 90,000 tons. The CVN-78 is the lead ship in the Ford class of aircraft carriers, replacing some of the U.S. Navy’s existing Nimitz-class carriers. At first glance, both classes have a similar-looking hull, but the Ford class introduces a series of technical innovations designed to improve carrier’s operating efficiency, and reduce operating costs and crew requirements.

The CVN-78 has another important advantage over its equivalent Nimitz class carrier: Its power doesn’t come with the price of increased hands on board. In fact, because of the aforementioned technologies, the USS Gerald R. Ford accommodates 2,600 sailors, 600 fewer than a Nimitz-class flat top. This alone saves the Navy more than $4 billion in ownership costs over each ship’s 50-year life, when compared with contemporary Nimitz aircraft carriers.

Speaking of combat, the carrier is more than capable of holding its own. The Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) defends against high-speed, highly maneuverable anti-ship missiles, and the weapon system of choice is the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM). One must not forget various Gatling and heavy machine gun mounts as well as 75-plus aircraft ready to be launched at any given time.

With great power comes great firepower. Only half of the power-generating capability on the CVN-78 is needed to run currently planned systems, including EMALS. The CVN-78 will thus have the power reserves that the Nimitz class lacks to sport even more futuristic armaments and systems, such as free-electron lasers and dynamic armor, at some point in the future.
As you can see, the USS Gerald R. Ford packs a serious punch!!

To those readers who celebrate American Independence, happy Independence Day. To others around the globe, happy summer!
Until next time,
                                     Fair Winds,
                                       Old Salt