Monday, April 24, 2023


 24 April 2023: Here we are at the end of April wondering where has the time gone! Before we know it will be full on Summer and the year will be half done! I am still wondering what happened to 2022! This week's post comes from NBC (in Connecticut) and caught us quite by surprise. Who could have imagined this! But there it is. 


Commercial divers find wreckage of early 1900s submarine off Long Island Sound

The Defender, an early submarine rejected by the U.S. Navy, wasn't exactly an A-list object of desire for global shipwreck hunters, but it was for Richard Simon.

Simon, 35, grew up diving along the Long Island, New York, coast, hearing tales of the oddball vessel from the early 1900s, and wondering about its whereabouts. On Sunday, Simon led a volunteer team of divers that put hands on the sunken submarine off Long Island Sound, he said.


It may have been the Defender's first human contact since it was abandoned by the Army Corps of Engineers 77 years ago, according to a statement from Simon's firm, Shoreline Diving Services of Coventry, Connecticut.

“We discovered something hiding in plain sight,” he said.

While acknowledging it was no Titanic, Simon noted the vessel's role as a step in the evolution of American submarines in the decades before they would become crucial to some U.S. military victories on the high seas.

Its maker was Simon Lake, the grandson of one of the founders of Atlantic City, and a fan of Jules Verne and his epic, "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea," according to the Submarine Force Library and Museum Association.

The Defender was described by the U.S. Navy as "experimental." It was overshadowed by the USS Holland, John Philip Holland’s vessel that is widely said to be the U.S. Navy’s first modern submarine.

After the Defender's launch, Lake registered new inventions, such as the periscope and foils used to keep submarines level as they descended and ascended, Simon said.

Many of Lake's New Jersey-built submarines from the early 1900s were intended for and rejected by the U.S. Navy. It wasn't until 1911 that the U.S. Navy purchased one of his creations, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command.

As Holland fared better with the military, Lake retrofitted his rejects for tasks such as salvage operations, which he did with the Defender, according to the command.

The Defender, all 92 feet of it, was ultimately scuttled along Long Island Sound in 1946, with experts speculating its last resting place was off Old Saybrook, Connecticut, according to background. It was in that general area, more than 160 feet below the surface, where Simon, on the deck of his 38-foot work vessel, kept watch as divers Steve Abbate and Joe Mazraani saw and felt the distinctive and quirky lines of the Defender on Sunday, he said.

the Defender's forward hatch (you'll have to take my word for it!)


It wasn't easy. Visibility along the sedentary bottom was about 3 feet, he said, and tidal flow gave the team a 45-minute window to find it or forget it for the day. It would be the team's second dive to find the vessel.

Sunday's victory inspired Simon to reach out to descendants of Lake, whom he had spoken with before.

"From what I gathered from family members, he had grand ideas and was a man ahead of his time," he said.

Simon is not yet ready to give the exact location of the discovery. He says he's been working with maritime officials in an attempt to secure the area and keep it safe from treasure hunters.

"A lot of people don't care about it," he said. "But I want to inspire the next generation to explore."


This vessel was right out of Jules Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Mr. Lake was a huge fan of Verne and did his best to recreate an up-dated version of Verne's Nautilus, included wheels to crawl along the sea bed. One can only wonder what might have happened had the Navy accepted Mr. Lake's vessel!

Until next time,

                                      Fair Winds,

                                                 Old Salt

Tuesday, April 18, 2023


 18 April 2023: This week in history held several momentous events going back over 100 years: 1865, April 14 American President Lincoln shot and killed; April 15 1912 SS Titanic hits an iceberg and sinks, killing 1500 people, and of course, the [first?] American Revolution began on April 19th, 1775. We were going to post some interesting items relating to the Titanic, but we've done that a couple of times previously, so moving along, we find an interesting mystery on Blackbeard's ship, Queen Anne's Revenge. From the Jerusalem Post:


Archaeologists find coal on Blackbeard's ship. Where did it come from?

A team of researchers from the University of Kentucky are currently investigating a puzzling discovery on the North Carolina coast. Their mission is to identify the source of the coal found in the infamous Queen Anne's Revenge, a pirate shipwreck that has remained a mystery for centuries. The findings were published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

Nearly 300 years ago, the notorious pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, was among a group of pirates that took control of a French slave ship. The vessel was then repurposed by the pirates and christened as the Queen Anne's Revenge, named after the monarch that Blackbeard previously served.

Blackbeard and his crew cruised through the Caribbean, gaining notoriety and acquiring treasures that remain undiscovered to this day.

Queen Anne's Revenge [model]

However, their reign of terror came to an end in 1718 after they blockaded the port of Charleston, South Carolina. The crew attempted to sail north but hit a sandbar along the coastline of Old Topsail Inlet in North Carolina, now known as Beaufort Inlet, where the Queen Anne's Revenge would lie undiscovered until 1996.

According to the researchers, about half of the shipwreck has been excavated and recovered, revealing gold grains, mercury, glass trade beads and hundreds of pieces of coal. 

The team, including James Hower PhD, a research professor at the UK Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), wants to know where the coal came from.

Hower, who has over 40 years of experience researching coal, took samples from the site and helped publish the teams' findings in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

The researchers aimed to determine the origin of the coal, which was present during an era when coal mining was not yet established in the country.

"There are reasons to have coal on a sailing ship like this, so finding it is not unique," Hower said. "But in this case, we first needed to put together the entire picture of the Queen Anne's Revenge to discern whether the coal belonged to the ship, which it most likely did not."

Where did the coal come from?

While coal was primarily used for cooking and heating on ships during the 17th and 18th centuries, the researchers found no evidence of it being used for these purposes on the pirate ship. Instead, the coal was found scattered evenly across the site, with more samples expected to be discovered as excavation continue.

To determine the origin of the coal, the team sent samples to Hower. He then used his expertise in analyzing coal and coal-combustion products to determine the rank of the samples, which can provide insight into where the coal originated.

The samples varied in rank from low volatile bituminous coal to anthracites, with Hower explaining that low volatile bituminous coal is generally found in Virgina and anthracites are typically found in Pennsylvania.

However, the sources of these types of coal were not active during the period in which the Queen Anne’s Revenge sailed. Hower listed possible sources of coal overseas in Ireland and Portugal that could have been used on the ship during it heyday. 

"Simply put, the coal samples post-date the Queen Anne's Revenge grounding," Hower explained. "Plus, European settlers did not discover Pennsylvania anthracite until maybe the later part of the 1760s and real, legitimate mining didn't happen until the 1800s."

US Navy ships? A coincidence?

"It turns out we didn't need to sort out the source because the happenstance of the shipwreck and the coal was totally a coincidence," Hower said. "It was most likely dumped from US Navy ships in the Civil War era."

The ship sank near Beaufort, North Carolina, an important harbor and coal refueling station during the Civil War after Union troops captured nearby Fort Macon in 1862.

Researchers found that a heavy influx of ship traffic during the Union's blockade of Wilmington, North Carolina, led to the storage of 1,000 tons of coal in Beaufort for ships in the area.

From 1862 to 1864, 421 vessels made nearly 500 trips into the city for coal.

Additionally, the researchers noted that the coal's movement in and around the shipwreck was due to the forces of nature, such as shifting inlets and sand shoals caused by waves, tidal currents, tropical storms and hurricanes.

"This research demonstrates that our studies of coal are not just for utilization. We can do something that teaches us about our history and not just mining history," Hower stated. "One way or another, somebody used this coal. It wasn't Blackbeard, but it was the US Navy." 


One can only imagine the shock when the underwater archeologists brought up baskets of coal from Edward Teach's ship - especially since it was not used in quantity or mined until long after she was captured and sunk. Maybe the investigation turned out to be somewhat of an anticlimax! 

As a matter of interest (to us anyway) Maritime Maunder now has exceeded 145,000 readers! We continue to be amazed ... and humbled. Thank you all!

Until next time,

                                          Fair Winds,

                                                     Old Salt

Tuesday, April 11, 2023


 11 April 2023: 

Last week we brought you information on the [perhaps] greatest battleship ever - at least in the United States Navy. This week, a destroyer, famous only for an event that probably never happened, is our subject. 

There are those that maintain the so called "Tonkin Gulf attack" by North Viet Nam on the USS Turner Joy and USS Maddox never happened (as reported, at least) but there is sufficient evidence to the contrary, and whether it did or did not, the end result was a 10 year war which killed over 58,000 men and women (and provided your humble scribe with several years employment). The following event, according the Naval Historical Center, absolutely did not happen.... or did it. Cue the music, maestro! From Lessons in


During World War II, the United States Navy experimented with technology beyond the general public’s comprehension. During the war, the government wanted to develop new weapons and tools to give them an edge over the enemy. One of these experiments was the Philadelphia Experiment, a bizarre and mysterious story that captivated people’s imaginations worldwide.

The story goes that in 1943, the Navy attempted to make the USS Eldridge, a destroyer escort, invisible to enemy radar. The experiment was supposed to use a new technology known as cloaking, which would make the ship disappear from view. However, something went terribly wrong during the experiment, and the ship reportedly vanished completely, only to reappear moments later in a different location.

USS Eldridge
 The story of the Philadelphia Experiment has been shrouded in mystery and controversy ever since. Some people believe that the experiment was a success and that the Navy was able to develop a weapon that could turn the tide of the war. Others think the experiment was a complete failure, and the government covered the truth to avoid embarrassment.

The Origins of the Philadelphia Experiment

The story of the Philadelphia Experiment began in the early 1940s when the Navy was looking for ways to develop new technologies to help them win the war. One of the Navy’s top scientists, Dr. Franklin Reno, was tasked with creating a new technology that could make ships invisible to enemy radar. The idea was to use electromagnetic fields to bend light around a ship, making it disappear.

Dr. Reno recruited a team of scientists to work on the project, and they began conducting experiments on a small scale. The experiments showed promise, and the Navy decided to scale the technology to a full-sized ship, the USS Eldridge.

The Experiment Goes Wrong

On August 12, 1943, the USS Eldridge was docked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The scientists on the project activated the cloaking device, and the ship reportedly vanished from view. However, things quickly began to go wrong. According to reports, the ship reappeared moments later, but something was different. The crew was disoriented and nauseous, and some had even disappeared entirely.

 The Navy immediately shut down the experiment and launched an investigation into what had happened. According to the official report, the experiment failed, and the Navy abandoned the project.

The Aftermath of the Experiment

The aftermath of the Philadelphia Experiment is where things get even more mysterious. According to some reports, the experiment had a lasting impact on the crew of the USS Eldridge. As a result, many suffered from mental illness and bizarre side effects.

Some even claimed they had been transported to another dimension during the experiment and encountered beings from another world.

The Navy denied all of these claims, and the story of the Philadelphia Experiment eventually faded into obscurity. However, the legend of the experiment lived on, and it became the subject of countless books, movies, and TV shows.

The Truth Behind the Philadelphia Experiment

So, what really happened during the Philadelphia Experiment? The truth is that no one knows for sure. Some people believe the experiment was a complete hoax, while others think there is some truth to the story.

Evidence suggests that the Navy was experimenting with new technologies during the war and that some of these experiments were highly classified. It’s possible that the Philadelphia Experiment was an actual experiment that went awry but that the details of what happened have been distorted over time.

Others believe that the story of the Philadelphia Experiment was a deliberate hoax created by the government to distract the public from other, more nefarious activities that were taking place during the war.

Regardless of what happened during the experiment, the story of the Philadelphia Experiment continues to capture the imaginations of people around the world. It has become a part of popular culture and has inspired countless works of fiction and speculation.


From the archives of Naval Historical Foundation:

"After many years of searching, the staff of the Archives and independent researchers have not located any official documents that support the assertion that an invisibility or teleportation experiment involving a Navy ship occurred at Philadelphia or any other location."


So, what if anything really happened? Seems hard to believe that this whole thing evolved straight from someone's imagination... and sometimes, "where there's smoke, there's fire..." You be the judge!

Until next time,

                                         Fair Winds,

                                                   Old Salt