Sunday, August 1, 2021

PENN'S LANDING PENNSYLVANIA

 1 August 2021: Stop the world! Or at least slow it down some! My goodness; it's August already! How time flies! Before we know it will be Autumn and then Winter. Wow! 

This past weekend we had the pleasure of visiting Penn's Landing Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) to attend a conference of maritime folks at the Independence Seaport Museum. The weather was perfect, the people wonderful, and the experience super. We visited and toured the battleship USS New Jersey (moored across the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey) as well as the 19th century cruiser USS Olympia, famed for carrying the Unknown Soldier home for burial after the First World War. She also fired about 300 rounds form her 8" guns at the battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish American War. 

The Museum at Independence Seaport was special, having some amazing exhibits as well as other floating vessels beyond those mentioned above.  

Following are some images of the seaport, New Jersey, and Olympia. 


 USS New Jersey from the Philadelphia side. She is over 800' long and over 100' in breadth. Her 16" battery was modified during her involvement in the Middle East conflict, allowing space for missiles and a helicopter landing pad on the fantail. She fought in four different conflicts: WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, and Middle East war with Iraq. She could steam at 35 kts (about 39 MPH).

The bow is truly impressive, but during the Pacific War (WWII) she was taking waves over the bow all the way to the bridge!



a 16" gun turret - the people help with the scale. These guns are huge!



 and fire really big bullets (projectiles) that weigh 2200 pounds and are pushed out the barrel with 300 pounds of black powder. The can shoot 20+ miles!


 While battleships always had escort destroyers to protect them from attacks from the air or under the sea, they also carried their own antiaircraft guns to take care of immanent threats that might have slipped through the destroyer envelope. 

And of course, the command bridge was heavily armored to protect the helmsman and other crew members who drove the ship. The captain and officer of the deck generally stood outside forward of the wheelhouse or above it where the view was impressive to say the least! If you look closely at the images below, you can see how far away the bow is!












For comparison purposes, here is what a battle cruiser looked like just 50 years before USS New Jersey was built!

USS Olympia (white hull on right) was flagship for Adm Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay in May 1898

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

That's gonna do it for this one, folks. Perhaps next week we can talk a bit about Olympia and her role in history.

Until then,

                                  Fair Winds,

                                            Old Salt

   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday, July 25, 2021

BERMUDA; CROSSROADS OF THE ATLANTIC

 25 July 2021: Well, July is almost done and August and what follows is looming. Where does the time fly to!

Bermuda has long been a favorite vacation/honeymoon spot for Americans and it is likely that most who go there have little idea of the history of this little island some 600 miles off the coast of North Carolina. From Military History Now, the following edited report.

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

 

BERMUDA does not exactly loom large in the annals of military history. When most people think of the small, mid-Atlantic, British territory, they mostly imagine pink sand beaches, cruise ships and the picturesque streets of the capital Hamilton.   

Yet despite its diminutive size and reputation as a tourist destination, almost from the time it was first permanently settled in the 17th Century, the island of Bermuda has been involved in a number of conflicts between major world powers. [Ed: there are several others offered in this article, but we don’t have room to discuss them all; here are some significant ones that had an early impact on the United States.]

The American War of Independence

In 1775 the rebellion of Britain’s American colonies was fully underway. But from the very outset of the rebellion, colonial forces suffered from a critical shortage of gunpowder. Continental Army supreme commander George Washington hoped to secure a stockpile from Bermuda’s merchants, with whom American colonists had been trading for years. British policy however was to cut off all trade with the American colonies. Reeling from the embargo, islanders hatched a plan to seize gunpowder from a lightly guarded magazine in St. George’s and sell it to the rebels. In the early morning hours of Aug. 14, 1775, a group of locals under the command of a Bermudan official and  militia colonel named Henry Tucker, broke into the arsenal and stole 100 barrels of gunpowder. The casks were rolled down the hill to waiting dinghies, then rowed out to two waiting American ships. The stolen powder would prove critical to the fledgling rebellion. Despite aiding in the establishment of American independence, Bermuda remains to this day connected to Great Britain. The island’s archives still preserve a letter of thanks from General George Washington to the people of Bermuda for their assistance in 1775.

 

The War of 1812


A generation after the War of Independence, Britain and America found themselves embroiled in yet another conflict. Situated just 600 miles off the coast of North Carolina, Bermuda was on the front lines of the contest. Indeed, during the War of 1812, the Admiralty moved the headquarters of its Western Atlantic Fleet from Halifax to Bermuda. A large dockyard was also built there. Britain also constructed a string of fortifications on Bermuda in the event the United States tried to seize the island. In fact, so impregnable were the defences there, Bermuda became known as the “Gibraltar of the West.” The famous summer of 1814 British invasion of Maryland and subsequent capture and burning of Washington D.C., along with the siege of Baltimore (later immortalized in the Star-Spangled Banner) were launched from Bermuda.

Similarly, the spoils of war were brought back to Bermuda when the task force returned. Part of the booty included two large paintings of King George III and his wife Queen Charlotte. These paintings, which were captured by Continental forces during the Revolutionary War, were found in a warehouse close to what would later be the White House. Both can now be found in the Bermudian legislature, which after Westminster is the oldest parliament chamber in the Western Hemisphere. To this day, the paintings flank the Bermudan Speaker’s chair. 

The U.S. Civil War


Bermuda also played a role in America’s Civil War. A key part of the Union strategy was to blockade major Confederate ports to deprive the Rebellion of its economic lifeblood – cotton – while preventing the South from obtaining vital supplies. To penetrate the Union cordon, Confederate shipyards produced streamlined, steam-powered vessels that became known as Blockade Runners. The vessels, their holds crammed with goods, used their speed and the cover of darkness to slip past Federal warships. Many would make port in Bermuda to unload cotton and take on supplies for the Confederate war effort. In fact, Bermuda became such a hotbed of trade with the South, the Union eventually parked a warship off the entrance to St. George’s harbour. Unable to effectively close a foreign port, goods and wealth continued to flow in and out of Bermuda.

                                      ~~~~~~~~~

So friends, when you visit Bermuda on holiday, think of the history there and pay a visit to the excellent museum of the island's history - which of course, is maritime history.

Until next time, 

                             Fair Winds, 

                                   Old Salt


Sunday, July 18, 2021

GOLDEN RAY UPDATE

 18 July 2021: In the interest of keeping our audience informed, this Brunswick GA article from Sunday 18 July is worth a look. We have offered news on the Golden Ray wreck almost since it occurred and will continue to do so until the salvage folks finish their monumental task.

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

 

The towering crane being used to saw apart an overturned cargo ship along the Georgia coast has paused work for maintenance and repairs.

Salvage crews have removed nearly two-thirds of the Golden Ray in five giant chunks since demolition began in November. The remaining 227 feet (70 meters) of the shipwreck will be cut into three huge pieces.

lifting a section from wreck

 But first, the towering crane used to straddle the shipwreck and tear through its hull with 400 feet (122 meters) of anchor chain has to undergo maintenance. The giant pulleys that help to force the chain through the hull like a dull saw are being lowered for inspection and replacement as needed, The Brunswick News reported.

Thousands of feet of wiring inside the crane are also being checked, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Himes, a spokesman for the multi-agency command overseeing the demolition.

"They’re going through the whole system to inspect for wear and tear and to recommend any needed repairs,” said Himes, who estimated the maintenance work could wrap by the end of the coming week.

The South Korean-owned Golden Ray capsized with more than 4,200 automobiles in its cargo decks shortly after departing the Port of Brunswick on Sept. 8, 2019. Investigators later concluded the ship tipped over because unstable loading had left its center of gravity too high.

The entire crew was rescued safely, but the ship was deemed a total loss. Demolition began in November and progress has been slower than officials predicted. Dismantling of the ship reached the halfway mark with removal of the fourth section in April. The fifth and latest chunk was cut away in early July.

Himes said cutting will resume once inspections and maintenance on the crane are complete.

The demolition and cleanup are being closely watched by environmental groups. A large fire sparked by a worker's cutting torch broke out inside the shipwreck in May, sending thick black smoke into the air. The flames were doused with boat-mounted water canons and no one was injured.

Fire slows progress

A large amount of oil and fuel leaked into St. Simons Sound when the latest section of the ship was removed. Some of the leaked fuel escaped a containment barrier around the wreck. Crews cleaned up the spill with oil skimmers and absorbent boom.

 

                                                          

                                             ~~~~~~~~~~~

Truly a mess by any standards, but they are making progress in getting this situation resolved. More as it develops.

 Until next time,

                                      Fair Winds, 

                                           Old Salt