Sunday, September 24, 2017


24 September 2017: In the realm of shipwrecks there is little more exciting than finding something REALLY old in pristine condition. It sometimes happens where a wreck is deep enough to be beyond the reach of treasure hunters, or where the water is really cold which has the effect of preserving the timbers and metal parts. Limited oxygen availability also helps keep metal from rusting and prevents the growth of marine life. So marine archeologists in the Black Sea have hit the jackpot. Have a look at this piece from a European organization, Maritime 

The academic survey group Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (Black Sea MAP) is finishing up a series of seabed surveys off the coast of Bulgaria, and on its last cruise it found multiple ancient shipwrecks – in addition to the 40-plus wreck sites it discovered last year.

Preliminary dating of amphoras and different shipbuilding details on the recent finds shows that at least two of them are Greek ships from the classical period and one is late Roman Age, according to project partner MARIS. The low-oxygen water at the bottom of the Black Sea has kept them preserved in an unusually good state – despite the fact that some are more than 2,000 years old. 

"We're talking about entirely preserved shipwrecks from keel to gunnel – ships that look like they had sunk yesterday," said Dr. Dragomir Garbov, a maritime archaeologist at the Centre for Underwater Archaeology (CUA).  
"There's one medieval trading vessel where the towers on the bow and stern are pretty much still there," said Ed Parker, CEO of Black Sea MAP. "It's as if you are looking at a ship in a movie, with ropes still on the deck and carvings in the wood."

Black Sea MAP is a partnership between Southampton University, the Bulgarian Centre for Underwater Archaeology, MARIS Södertörn University and the University of Connecticut. The program’s advanced underwater technology, which includes survey, documentation and sampling down to a depth of more than 2000 meters, is supplied by the Swedish and Norwegian companies MMT and Reach Subsea onboard the research vessel Havila Subsea. The project is privately funded by a family foundation. 

Click the link here for a short video of  the dive operation 

I am sure there will be more info coming out on this amazing discovery and we at Maritime Maunder will try to keep you updated!

Until next time,
                                 Fair winds,
                                       Old Salt

Saturday, September 16, 2017


16 September 2017: In 1830, the United States Frigate Constitution had, according to the government (Department of the Navy), outlived her usefulness. She was, after all, launched in October of 1797 as one of the "Six Frigates" approved by President Washington in 1794. So it was announced in the papers that she would be scrapped. 
A young Harvard medical school recent graduate, headed to law school, and part time poet named Oliver Wendell Holmes (father of the Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.) saw the article in the Boston paper and immediately sat down to write a poem, expressing his outrage that such an iconic and historic vessel should be discarded like so much junk. He wrote it on this day, September 16th in 1830.  Here is his poem: 

Frigate Constitution Vs HMS Guerierre August 1812

The poem was published in the paper, picked up by several others, and eventually found a willing and agreeable audience in the government. It still resonates today!

So, clearly his efforts to rally the populace paid off and the ship, now the United States "Ship of State" survived. While she has been used for many tasks over the years, she sits today in Boston - Charlestown Navy Yard, as the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. 


And she just completed a 26 month overhaul to ensure she remains sound. Here she is on the bi-centennial anniversary of her launching in 1997. You might note she is sailing free and unattended by her usual tugboat escort.

Ahh, the power of the pen! 

Until next time,
                                         Fair Winds,
                                               Old Salt

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


6 August 2017: In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey's devastation of the Houston TX area and the pending landfall of what is billed as the biggest baddest storm to form in the Atlantic in a long time (forever?), we thought the following piece on the quick thinking of a US submarine skipper worthy of a reprint in Maritime Maunder...... and a thank you to Tyler Rogoway who wrote the piece in the WARZONE.


"In September of 1989, Hurricane Hugo came roaring towards America's southeastern seaboard. People rushed to prepare for the storm's arrival, including the U.S. Navy. At Charleston Naval Base in South Carolina, submarines scrambled out to sea, but a handful which were undergoing or awaiting heavy maintenance had no way of escaping Hugo's onslaught. One of these vessels was the Navy's 100th nuclear submarine, the USS Narwhal (SSN-671).
Hugo made landfall in South Carolina on the 22nd September as a class four hurricane. 20 foot storm surges and ten inches of rain were experienced in some areas along the coast. Narwhal's crew were onboard the submarine, which had its nuclear reactor offline as it was awaiting its turn in dry dock for a complex refueling and overhaul, as the center of the storm approached the base. 
Narwhal's mooring lines were fortified in preparation for the storm's arrival. Two three inch lines and nine double wires were supposed to keep the 314 foot sub in place but as the first half of the storm hit, all but one line had snapped and the submarine began to drift out into the Cooper River.
As the eye of the storm passed over, brave tugboat crews and the Narwhal's crew tried to keep the nuclear fast attack sub from being pulled away, but the winds and currents were too strong. With the second half of the storm fast approaching, the Narwhal's commanding officer had to make a very tough call. He could either let the nuclear submarine drift away with the wind and current or he could do the unthinkable, dive the boat in the middle of the river.

With no diesel fuel onboard and the reactor cold, running only on battery power, the dive alarm was sounded and Narwhal's crew executed their orders, dropped anchor, flooded the sub's ballast tanks and submerging to the river bed. Just the submarine's sail and masts were left sticking up out of the water (pictured at the top of this article). The crew sat in the submarine with everything off but emergency lighting to wait out the storm, watching the hurricane's 150mph winds rage around them through the narrow field of view of submarine's periscope. 
The captain's bold plan worked, it took some time the next morning to break the boat free from the silt it lay in, but Narwhal and her crew came out unscathed. The submarine went on to get its refueling and refit and served another decade as part of her 30 year long career.
The captain's call could have lost him his command or even his entire career, but according to reports, instead his quick thinking resulted in an early promotion.


Without knowing, of course, I suspect this skipper grew up in New England. As a boy who grew up there myself, I can recount many occasions where, in the face of a looming storm, we sank our small boats - sailboats, dinghies, and skiffs, to protect them from the winds. After the storm passed, we had only to bail them out and we were ready to go. I can recall no one losing their boat when they followed this procedure.   

Good luck to any of our readers who have lives or interests in the path of Hurricane Irma. Stay safe.

Until next time,
                                 Fair winds,
                                      Old Salt