Tuesday, August 30, 2016


30 August 2016: While many of us in the world of things maritime were aware of this, I am not sure the "general public" was. We did mention it in a post about Wavertree, the ship which shared dock space with Peking for years at South Street Seaport, but it was a passing comment. So, without further ado, here's the story of Peking's looming departure. It is courtesy of the New York Post.
Peking in her berth at South Street Seaport Museum

Last weekend was is the final chance step aboard  Peking — the storied, black and white ship that has towered above the South Street Seaport since 1974. She’ll be hauled back to her birthplace in Hamburg, Germany, next spring and will be replaced by the Wavertree, another tall ship that has more New York history than the Peking.

The South Street Seaport Museum has been in financial straits since Hurricane Sandy and started negotiating a deal with Germany back in 2012 to get the Peking back home.

The museum was willing to give her away as a gift but needed the cash to get her across the Atlantic. Finally the German government agreed to invest over $30 million in bringing the Peking back and restoring her for her new home at the Stiftung Hamburg Maritim, the maritime museum of Hamburg.

Captain Jonathan Boulware, executive director of the South Street Seaport Museum, said the decision to give Peking to Germany is in the best interest of the museum and the ship.

“It’s also good for Hamburg; they’ll have a restored ship they can be proud of. She was built in Hamburg and sailed from there. She belongs on the Hamburg waterfront. And it’s good for Peking; she’ll have the resources and the attention she deserves.”

Built in 1911 by the German company F. Laeisz,  Peking is part of the last generation of sailing ships, constructed right as steam-powered vessels started to dominate the market. She is reputed to be the last square-rigger to double Cape Horn.

The Peking arrived in the city in 1974 at the ripe age of 63 after narrowly avoiding spending the rest of her life in a scrapyard. She has a long history as a merchant ship from South America to Europe, where she transported nitrates, essentially bird droppings to be used as a fertilizer, between the two continents. She later fought in World War I, spent some time as a training ship and eventually became a school for boys in England, where she was briefly renamed the Arethusa. Peking eventually outswam her usefulness and was headed to the scrapyard when a wealthy navy lieutenant rescued her and brought her to the South Street Seaport Museum, where she has lived ever since.

Peking as she sits today
She will be towed to Staten Island on Sept. 6 where she’ll spend the winter on the island’s Caddell Drydock before heading to Europe. Wavertree is expected to return to South Street following her massive overhaul in September.

Until next time,
                           Fair Winds,
                               Old Salt

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


23 August 2016: While I am sure it's hard to believe (for us here at Maritime Maunder it is anyway) it has been two years since we began offering hopefully interesting maritime tidbits - mostly of little intrinsic value - but some fun, some historical, and some just noteworthy - and it is quite amazing the response we have received. We now have over 17,800 readers, world wide. Some of you make comments, add further insight, or just say thanks. Now it's our turn to say thanks to you, our readers, for continuing to follow Maritime Maunder.....

This week has had a couple of interesting historical events that should be mentioned, but we will not dwell on them as we have a brand new and I think interesting topic for you. Of note: 1851 (August 22) U.S. schooner AMERICA tops the best of the British fleet in a race around the Isle of Wight, winning the "100 Guinea Cup" which was then donated to the New York Yacht club with the understanding it would be contested internationally.

The "low black schooner" America

It became, of course, the America's Cup, named for the schooner, not the country. There are currently a series of races being contested that will eventually lead to a two boat match race in Bermuda in 2017 - for the Cup.

Another item of interest, though not really maritime, is the landing of the British at Benedict MD from whence they marched through Bladensburg, shredding the American forces positioned there to stop them, and marching on to the American capital, Washington City, and burning a number of public buildings, including what is now called the White House (then it was the Presidential Mansion). A thunder storm of stunning intensity put out the fires and the British left, returning to their ships to sail on to Baltimore where they met a quite different reaction. More on that in a few weeks.

But the item of focus for today is the exploratory expedition of E/V Nautilus under auspices of Naval Historical Foundation and NOAA to film and explore the WWII light carrier Independence sunk off the coast of California in some 2600 feet of water. Of note is that the expedition will be broadcast live over the internet, something which world, renown undersea explorer, Dr. Bob Ballard, has fostered for some time. Following is the NFH article only lightly edited about the event and we will post more as more is available.

The Corps of Exploration on E/V Nautilus and scientists on shore participating via telepresence will conduct the first-ever visual survey of the sunken aircraft carrier USS Independence. In 1951, Independence was scuttled offshore San Francisco where she now rests within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The wreck was acoustically surveyed in 2015 by The Boeing Company and Coda Octopus working with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ Maritime Heritage Program and West Coast Region, NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Our expedition will be the first time humans will lay eyes on Independence in over 65 years.
At her christening, Independence represented the first of a new class of carriers built on converted cruiser hulls. She joined the Pacific Fleet in June 1943. She participated in major campaigns of the Pacific front in attacks on Rabaul, Tarawa, Luzon, and Okinawa. Most notably, Independence was part of the carrier group that sank the last remaining vestige of the Japanese Mobile Fleet at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, including the battleship Musashi. USS Independence received eight battle stars due to the heroic actions of the Sailors, Officers, Pilots and Marines who served onboard. To learn more about the history of Independence’s service in the war, visit http://www.navyhistory.org/uss-independence-historical-timeline/

 After the war, the ship had another important national service yet to perform. Selected as a target vessel for the Bikini atomic bomb tests - code named Operation Crossroads - she was placed within one-half mile of ground zero for the 1 July explosion (Test Able). The ship was severely damaged but did not sink and took part in an underwater detonation test 25 July (Test Baker).
 The third atomic test (Test Charlie) was canceled due to growing concern over the water conditions within Bikini Atoll. Decommissioned at Kwajalein Atoll on 22 August 1946, the “ex-Independence” was towed to San Francisco by ocean tugs USS Hitchiti and USS Pakana, arriving at Hunters Point in the San Francisco Bay in June of 1947.  

At Hunters Point the Navy would establish the NRDL – Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory and Independence became a training school to study the aftereffect of the atomic bombs on the target vessels. To learn more about Independence’s role in Operation Crossroads, visit http://www.navyhistory.org/2016/08/uss-independence-cvl-22-and-operation-crossroads/
Now this old warhorse rest at the bottom of the Pacific, home to a myriad of sea creatures and the ghosts of warriors who helped shorten the Second World War.
The lower image represents a high gain sonar shot of the ship as she lays on the bottom, with pertinent features identified with the ship as she once was.
For more info and a "sometimes" live link, check www.nautiluslive.org.  They will be broadcast their dives as possible. You can also follow them on twitter: @EVNautilus for updates.
Until next time,
                                      Fair Winds,
                                              Old Salt

Friday, August 19, 2016


19 August 2016: In celebration of the unqualified victory enjoyed by the US Frigate Constitution over the British HMS Guerrier, we want to share a few lovely images today of that momentous engagement, one that was such welcome news to a struggling young country engaged in a war with Great Britain; the War of 1812 as it's known here in America or the "American War" as the good folks in England call it. First a couple of images of that most beautiful vessel:

CONSTITUTION sails on 200th anniversary of her victory over Guerrier

Britannia ruled the waves at the onset of the War of 1812. When the British frigate HMS Guerriere dueled USS Constitution in the war’s first major naval engagement, the outcome was swift, decisive and surprising. In less than an hour of fierce fighting, Guerriere was in tatters and Constitution had been transformed into an American icon: “Old Ironsides.”
Her victory in August of 1812 cheered a depressed population, and changed the dynamic of sea battles during that conflict, and after.

Bravo Zulu, Old Ironsides!

Until next time,
                                Fair Winds,
                                    Old Salt

Saturday, August 13, 2016


13 August 2016: It's time, on this the so-far-hottest-day of summer, to indulge in a bit of whimsy on the archeological front. A recent article on Flipboard by Natalie Zutter took on the task of identifying the Spanish Galleon wreck featured as the home of the "Little Mermaid" of movie fame. We offer it here, slightly edited, with images, to amuse our readers. We thought it quite imaginative and clever.


Atlas Obscura recently asked Kevin Crisman, the director of the Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation at Texas A&M University, to take a deep dive (sorry) into the shipwreck that fascinates Ariel. While Crisman’s research usually concerns actual boats, he and other maritime archaeologists are well aware of the “Hollywood shipwrecks” that sink all logic—The Little Mermaid’s wrecked galleon is no different, though it does get some of the details right…

Crisman considered every angle of the ship—from the barrel-like stern (“This boat never had a chance”) to the shape of the portholes, to the spacing of the ship’s frame—to try and determine whether this Renaissance-era Spanish galleon is a recreation or the real deal. The conclusion? Signs point to this ship being a poorly-designed copy of a 16th-century galleon, possibly built closer to the 19th-century setting of the original Hans Christian Anderson tale.

Crisman also gives equal consideration to each of her treasures. It turns out the candelabra is authentic of the time, if a bit ornate; the legendary dinglehopper has one too many tines and should probably be a bit more corroded, but maybe there’s some Disney magic in that grotto preserving the artifacts.

But my favorite part of the piece is when Crisman and Atlas Obscura writer Sarah Laskow ponder Ariel’s discoveries in the larger context of the science world, and come up with an alternative future for her:

There was something else that bothered Crisman about the grotto, though. “As an archaeologist, I’m troubled by her collecting proclivity,” he says. “The scientist in me thinks she’s destroying scientific information for future archaeologists.”

Stashed in the grotto, the objects offer no clues about where they came from or how they were used. But perhaps Ariel was keeping meticulous notes on her discoveries, along with their original locations and contexts. If she only applied a rigorous scientific method to her collection process, Ariel’s enthusiasm for the material culture of seafaring humans might have made her a good candidate for a career in archaeology.

We decide to give her the benefit of the doubt. “If she had not gotten involved with that prince, she could have gone on to be a maritime archaeologist of some renown,” Crisman concludes.

And there you have it. I hope you agree that it is a very cleverly done piece!

Until next time,
                             Fair winds,
                                  Old Salt




Sunday, August 7, 2016


7 August 2016: Greetings from the sunny Caribbean! Nice day here, but hot and humid. So today we're going to talk about moving cargo the old fashioned way - under sail. And, by the way, this is our 200th post to Maritime Maunder! The 2nd anniversary is still a couple of weeks out, so in spite of a couple of lapses, I think we're doing pretty well! And now, on to today's subject!

Amid the dozens of cargo ships now steering through the North Sea, one vessel stands apart: the Avontuur, a 144-foot-long schooner powered only by the wind and sun.

Stocked with crates of artisanal gin and vodka, the emissions-free cargo ship is making its maiden voyage from the tiny town of Elsfleth in northwest Germany and around the tip of Denmark to Rostock, on Germany’s northeast coast.

After Rostock, the crew plans to spend the next one to two years hauling organic wines, fair trade coffee and other sustainable fare to ports across Europe, North America, the Caribbean and, eventually, Australia.

The Avontuur, whose name means “adventure” in Dutch, is the newest and biggest member of a growing fleet of cargo ships that combine centuries-old technology — sails and masts — with modern inventions like solar panels and battery generators.

The goals of the emissions-free shipping movement are two-fold, said Cornelius Bockermann, the Avontuur’s captain and founder of Timbercoast, the company behind the mission.

The 96-year-old schooner embarked on its first mission on July 28 and is expected to arrive in Rostock by Aug. 11 for the start of Hanse Sail, a festival featuring other old-school vessels, though none of the others are equipped to carry cargo.

Bockermann said he spent more than 700,000 euros ($786,000) from his personal savings to upgrade the Avontuur into a working cargo ship. A team of more than 100 volunteers from around the world helped carry out the renovations and take it for test runs.

Avontuur Shipping Co., as the project is formally called, is now seeking to raise around 630,000 euros ($708,000) from individual investors, who can purchase small shares in the company and would split the profits from the Avontuur’s import-export business.

Pretty neat, I think, and possibly the start of a trend. Plus, what is prettier than sailing vessel plying the seas with a good breeze!

Until next time,

                             Fair Winds,
                                   Old Salt

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


2 August 2016: Well, here we are in August! Where did July get to?? For that matter, what happened to June!? The Summer is ripping past us. I hope you all are getting out (if this is your summer season!) and enjoying it. All too soon, it will that time again - leaves changing color - and falling - and then cold weather and all that it entails..... Hate to even think about that! So, let's talk about San Francisco California.

During the gold rush days (1850's) people descended on San Francisco to trudge north to the newly discovered gold fields and try their luck...and when I say "people" - I mean over 62,000 of them in the course of a year! They got there by ship, of course, as that was pretty much the only way. And some would go home that way - some rich and some totally broke. And some would not go home at all ... for a variety of reasons. When the ships, clipper ships as well as the slower ones, docked in San Francisco, not only did the passengers disembark in their zeal to get to the gold fields, but so did the crew, leaving the ships to rot at the dock. As San Francisco grew, more ground space was needed to build on and so the waterfront got filled in, often using the rotting hulls as base for the fill and sometimes as foundations for new buildings.

This is a map showing the original shoreline (heavy black line) and the current shore line.

Below is another look, showing where a lot of the ships wound up, buried under the newly expanded city.

So today, when a construction project begins, the workers frequently find the remains of a 19th century ship in the hole or under a demolished building.

And they leave them in place! So, what you wind up with is a perfectly normal cityscape with absolutely no inkling of what lies below!

Now I think that's pretty amazing!

Until next time,
                                            Fair Winds,
                                              Old Salt