Friday, March 30, 2018


30 March 2018: This past week, the bones of what could be an 18th century ship washed ashore on the east coast of Florida in the United States. Speculation runs rampant as to what or which ship it might turn out to be. Whether it is "the holy grail" or not remains to be seen! The following is from station WJAX in Jacksonville FL:

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- A 48-foot section of an old sailing ship has washed ashore on a Florida beach, thrilling researchers who are rushing to study it before it's reclaimed by the sea. The Florida Times-Union reports the well-preserved section of a wooden ship's hull washed ashore overnight Tuesday on Florida's northeastern coast. 

"Holy grail of shipwrecks": Centuries-old sailing ship found on Florida beach

A 48-foot section of an old sailing ship has washed ashore on a Florida beach

According to CBS News affiliate WJAX-TV, Julie Turner and her 8-year-old son found the wreckage on Ponte Vedra Beach Wednesday morning. At first, Turner thought it was a piece of a pier or fence, but then, she realized it was a centuries-old ship that had washed ashore.
"We walked and checked it out and immediately knew it was a historical piece of artifact," she told WJAX-TV.
Researchers with the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum have been documenting the artifact and say it could date back as far as the 1700s. Marc Anthony, who owns Spanish Main Antiques, told WJAX-TV it's extremely rare for wreckage to wash ashore.  "To actually see this survive and come ashore. This is very, very rare. This is the holy grail of shipwrecks," Anthony said. 
Museum historian Brendan Burke told the newspaper that evidence suggests the vessel was once sheeted in copper, and that crews found Roman numerals carved on its wooden ribs. 

It will be interesting to see what this turns out to be, assuming it can be analyzed before the sea reclaims it!

Until next time, 

                                                  Fair winds, 
                                                           Old Salt

Sunday, March 25, 2018


25 March 2018: An item featured in many news media this past week offered the story of the Silver Sea liner, Silver Spirit, being cut in half and extended with a 49' section to make it larger. Many of the stories referred to this process as "revolutionary" and "never done on this scale before." From the FoxNews article: 
"The transformation is currently underway at Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo. This type of lengthening has never before been employed for the extension of a luxury cruise ship, according to the cruise line."

Not so. About two years ago, the Blohm & Voss shipyard accomplished the same feat on the steamer Braemar..... 

 MS Breamar

Below is a time lapse video of how it was done. It is really excellent if you can stand the trance-inducing music accompanying the film; if not, turn off your sound! 
Click here for the video: 

Braemar refit

As a matter of interest, her sistership was extended in 2008! 

Gotta cut it short today, busy moving. 

Until next time,
                            Fair Winds,
                                     Old Salt

Friday, March 16, 2018


16 March 2018: We have posted several times about sunken ships being found - most dramatic perhaps was USS Indianapolis and more recently, USS Lexington, both discovered by philanthropist billionaire Paul Allen. Here's one that might challenge even him, as there is no record of anything about her sinking. From Fox News a few days ago:

One hundred years ago, the USS Cyclops, a massive American World War I transport ship hailed as a “floating coal mine,” should have been docked in the waters off Baltimore, fresh off a journey from Brazil.
But the vessel – reported to be the Navy’s biggest and fastest fuel ship at the time – and the 309 men onboard it never pulled into the Chesapeake Bay on March 13, 1918, and its whereabouts to this day remain unknown.
      “In terms of loss of life and size of ship, it’s probably the last great mystery left unresolved,” James Delgado, an underwater explorer, told the Baltimore Sun this week as recent discoveries of historical shipwrecks are renewing hopes amongst the scientific community of finally finding the Cyclops.
      The 540-foot long and 65-foot wide ship, outfitted with 50-caliber machine guns to help transport doctors and supplies to American Expeditionary Forces in France during The Great War, was last seen in Barbados on March 4, 1918.

Built in Philadelphia eight years earlier, the USS Cyclops was capable of transporting 12,500 tons of coal and could lift two tons of it in single buckets along cables that ran along the ship, leading newspapers to call it a “floating coal mine,” according to the Baltimore Sun

        But on its final journey, the Cyclops was loaded up with 10,000 tons of manganese ore – a denser and heavier cargo – and stopped at the Caribbean island for nine days to resupply before vanishing into the horizon.
        Those back in the U.S. began to take notice as day after day passed without any signs of the ship making its way to Maryland.
       "COLLIER OVERDUE A MONTH," blared a headline in the New York Times on April 15, 1918, next to a list of the hundreds of passengers on board.
      "Numerous ships sailed to locate the collier as she was thought to have been sunk by a German submarine," the Naval History and Heritage Command says on its website. "Her wreck has never been found, and the cause of her loss remains unknown."

Two months after the ship failed to reach Baltimore, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who then was an Assistant Navy Secretary, announced the Cyclops and all of its crew were presumed lost at sea, resulting in what remains the largest loss of life in Navy history unrelated to combat.

        Nothing from the ship has been found. No wreckage, oil slicks or debris. Not even a distress call. And speculation has raged throughout history, leading some to claim wild theories involving the Bermuda Triangle, giant sea creatures and mutinies.
      "One magazine, Literary Digest, speculated that a giant octopus rose from the sea, entwined the ship with its tentacles and dragged it to the bottom," the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command said. "Another theory was that the ship suddenly turned turtle in a freak storm, trapping all hands inside."
      Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels at the time added that "there has been no more baffling mystery in the annals of the Navy than the disappearance last March of the U.S.S. Cyclops.”
       “There has not been a trace of the vessel, and long-continued and vigilant search of the entire region proved utterly futile," the Baltimore Sun quoted him as saying.
        But recent deep sea discoveries of American ships, such as the USS Lexington -- lost at the Battle of Coral Sea in 1942 and found last week -- and the USS Ward, found in the Philippines in December, both by an expedition crew led by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen, are giving explorers hope the Cyclops could be next.
       “The short list keeps getting shorter these days as technology steps in,” Delgado told the Baltimore Sun. “Things can be found. It’s just a question of time and money.”
       Marvin Barrash, who has spent more than a decade researching the Cyclops, believes it could be sitting in the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean, the Puerto Rico Trench, which extends more than 27,000 feet below the surface. He is now working with Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., to build the ship’s first monument.
        “As a Navy veteran, I feel I have a duty to honor the crew members on the USS Cyclops who never returned home to Baltimore, and the families they left behind,” Harris said in a statement to Fox News, nothing that his office is "actively researching and reaching out to multiple government and private entities to help support the monument."
        "With the recent discoveries of past sunken ships, I hope we can draw more attention to the USS Cyclops and bring closure to those families," he added.
       Barrash, a great nephew of one of the firemen on the ship, told the Baltimore Sun that he just wants the ship “to be found.
       “I want the 309 to be at rest, as well as the families,” he said. “It’s something everybody needs: some resolution.”

Maybe Paul Allen will take on this challenge. We'll keep  you posted! 

Until next time,
                                      Fair Winds, 
                                             Old Salt