Monday, July 31, 2023


 31 July 2023: 

July is done, folks. Summer is half over and that's sad for those who have not had the best of boating/beach/ and outdoor activities weather. Maybe August will bring an improvement!

We have a piece about a new Arleigh Burke class destroyer being commissioned for the United States Navy. What makes this "post-worthy" (at least to us old squids) is that the ship's namesake was on hand for the ceremony and his wife did the actual christening. Read on - from AP:


A warship bearing the name of a Medal of Honor recipient has been christened at Navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works, and the ship's namesake was on hand to witness the event

Marine 1st Lt. Harvey “Barney” Barnum jumped to the ground when he came under fire during an ambush in Vietnam that killed his radio operator and commander.

Collecting himself, Barnum realized he was now the highest-ranking officer of a rifle company he'd just joined. He called in artillery and, amid gunfire, dragged the commander to safety, where he died in Barnum’s arms. Then he proceeded to mount a counterattack, oversee evacuation of the wounded and lead the unit’s eventual break out to rejoin the battalion.

The Medal of Honor recipient, now 83, watched Saturday as his wife smashed a bottle of sparkling wine against the bow to christen the future U.S. Navy destroyer that'll bear the name Harvey C. Barnum Jr.


He said he was speechless when he learned that a warship would bear his name. "As anybody that knows Barney Barnum knows, I’ve never been speechless,” he joked before the event.

The ceremony on Saturday at Navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works was a tribute to the Vietnam War hero who during his first firefight was foisted into leadership of Marines who didn’t yet know his name because he’d just joined them a few days earlier.

Dignitaries included Maine's governor and senators, as well as Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, who praised Barnum's humility and generosity, in addition to being a war hero who inspired fellow Marines.

Gen. Eric Smith, the acting Marine Corps commandant called Barnum “an icon, a legend, a Marine.”

In an interview, Barnum said the combat was harrowing on that day, Dec. 18, 1965, [ed: your 'umble scrivener was in country that day] during Operation Harvest Moon. His unit was outnumbered, caught off guard and separated from the larger battalion outside the village of Ky Phu in Quang Tin Province.

The ship's namesake said he was scared like everybody else but he tried not to show it. The other Marines were looking to him, an artillery spotter, after their commander died, he said.

To launch a counterattack, he brandished a .45-caliber handgun and told the others to follow him. They did.

“It’s a tough business. But when it gets tough, the tough get going and that’s what Marines do,” he said. “We came together as a team. And, you know, there’s no fury unleashed that's greater than that of a bunch of Marines that know that their buddies have been shot.”

Barnum later became the first Medal of Honor recipient in the Vietnam conflict to return for another tour. He retired from the Marine Corps as a colonel after nearly three decades of service and served the secretary of defense as principal director of drug enforcement policy, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for reserve affairs, and acting assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs.

Barnum, of Reston, Virginia, was born in Cheshire, Connecticut, and studied at Saint Anselm College, a Benedictine college in Goffstown, New Hampshire. The school’s abbot, Mark Cooper, delivered the invocation on Saturday.

The event was a family affair for Barnum, who now lives in Virginia.

His wife, Martha Hill, served as the ship’s sponsor. At the event Saturday, she was in a wheelchair; Barnum has been her care provider since she had a stroke about five years ago. Her daughter; two granddaughters, one of whom sang “God Bless America;” and an 11-year-old great-granddaughter were also participants at the event. Other family and friends were present.

Displacing 9,500 tons, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is built to simultaneously wage war against submarines, aircraft and missiles, and other warships. The newest versions are being equipped for ballistic missile defense.

The 510-foot (155-meter) guided-missile destroyer was in dry dock for the ceremony as work continues to prepare the ship for delivery to the Navy.


If this ship runs true to form, she will not be active in the navy til around year end. And maybe, once she is, they'll take Col Barnum for a ride! A wonderful honor and certainly, a well earned one! 

Until next time,

                                                  Fair Winds,   

                                                            Old Salt

Sunday, July 23, 2023


 23 July 2023: It's time, on this the eve of what may be the so-far-hottest week of summer, to indulge in a bit of whimsy on the archeological front. A 2016 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. And somehow, in this year of head-scratching "creativity," perhaps appropriately providing a laugh to some of our readers. For those of you with astonishing memories, a version of this first appeared some 7 years ago on Maritime Maunder.


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! And besides, the folks at Disney need something of a boost right now!

Until next time,
                             Fair winds,
                                  Old Salt


Friday, July 14, 2023


 14 July 2023: 

Mid-July folks! How sad that the summer is rushing by - and quite frankly, the weather has not been all that great. 

Some while back - maybe a couple of years? - we posted about this ship found in the Namibian Desert and just got an update on it (question: is a wreck in a sand dune still a "she?") and thought it might be of interest to some of you. From the Greek Reporter:


 The discovery of a ship that disappeared five hundred years ago and was found in a desert in southwest Africa with gold coins aboard has been one of the most exciting archaeological finds of recent years.

The Bom Jesus (The Good Jesus) was a Portuguese vessel that set sail from Lisbon, Portugal, on Friday, March 7, 1533. Its fate was unknown until 2008 when its remains were discovered in the desert of Namibia during diamond mining operations near the coast of the African nation.

When it sank in a fierce storm, it was on its way to India laden with treasures like gold and copper ingots. Two-thousand pure gold coins and tens of thousands of pounds of copper ingots were discovered on the Bom Jesus, almost all intact.

It is speculated that the Bom Jesus sank when it was pulled too close to shore in a storm off the coast of Namibia, causing the ship’s hull to collide with a rock and lean over, capsizing the vessel. As the coastline waters receded, the Bom Jesus reemerged in the desert. 

The condition that the ship was found in suggests that the storm that caused the shipwreck was especially violent, although an absence of human remains (besides a few scattered bone fragments) in the site suggests that most of the crew on board survived the wreck or died at sea.

Dr Noli, the chief archeologist of the Southern Africa Institute of Maritime Archaeological Research, said recently the coastline was notorious for storms so finding a shipwreck was hardly surprising.

However, it was a week into the excavation that a treasure chest laden with gold was found, with the coins indicating it had come from a Portuguese ship that had disappeared in 1533.

 “It adds new meaning to the concept of the ship having being loaded with gold,” Dr Noli told News Com, Australia.

Further investigation revealed the discovery of bronze bowls, and long metal poles [ed: poles?] later found to be canons.

Dr Noli’s team also found a musket which he estimated to be at least 500 years old, and bits of metal which revealed a shipwreck was buried in the sand. It also found compasses, swords, astrological tools, canons and even a time capsule. Silver coins were also found.

While little is known about the history of the Bom Jesus itself, it is speculated that the ship was part of a class of naval vessels that were larger, more efficient, and more durable than previous Portuguese and Spanish vessels in order to facilitate the longer-distance expeditions carried out by Portuguese fleets during this time.


We are sure there is more research to be done on this strange discovery and should any of it appear on our feeds, we will endeavor to bring it to you. As a side note, the late Clive Cussler, author of dozens of high octane adventure tales led by his NUMA team and Dirk Pitt, wrote a book some years ago about the discovery of a fictitious ship in the desert! My somewhat dim memory thinks maybe "Skeleton Coast".  But maybe not!

Until next time,

                                      Fair Winds,

                                               Old Salt

Thursday, July 6, 2023


 6 July 2023: To all our U.S. readers and followers, we hope you enjoyed a wonderful and safe Independence Day holiday. We did; got to spend some time with our kids and even got out on the water until some strong storms suggested returning to port would be the smart move! The following comes from a somewhat unusual source, Hyperallergic, one we have not before seen. But an interesting piece nonetheless. And as a matter of interest, our reader count continues to grow, now topping 152,000 of you. Thanks so much!


Researchers Plan to Lift 3,000-Year-Old Shipwreck From Sea Floor

The team embarking on the underwater mission next month says it is the oldest known hand-sewn shipwreck in the Mediterranean.

European researchers are embarking on an underwater mission next month to resurface the oldest known hand-sewn shipwreck in the Mediterranean.

Located off the coast of the Istria peninsula in Croatia, the Zambratija boat has “stood the test of time,” with nearly 30 feet of its 39-foot structure still relatively intact, according to a news release from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). The ancient vessel was initially documented in 2008, according to a 2019 report, and found empty. However, there is still much to be studied in the structure’s elm planks and slanted stitching made of vegetal fibers — a prime example of pre-Roman traditional shipbuilding in the Adriatic coastal regions of Istria and Dalmatia.


Hand-sewn boats are wooden ships featuring planks connected via stitches, ties, and other flexible bindings like branches and roots. These boats have been identified and attributed to different cultures around the world including early Nordic groups, the Ancient Egyptian empire, and the Austronesian communities in the Indo-Pacific region.

Currently, at least 64 hand-sewn boats spanning the Bronze Age to the Medieval period have been recorded in the Mediterranean.

At the moment, archaeologists know that the Zambratija shipwreck dates between 1101 and 901 BCE, based on radiocarbon dating analysis results, but will only be able to confirm its exact construction date once they bring the boat’s materials to land for further testing.

Beginning on July 2, divers will swim down to the shallow bay floor of the Zambratija Cove to retrieve the hand-sewn boat in sections. The mission will be led by CNRS researcher Giulia Boetto from Adriboats — a research program focusing on Eastern Adriatic antiquities under contract by France’s Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs. Over the years, the program has worked in close collaboration with several other Croatian historical research institutions including the University of Zadar and the Croatian Conservation Institute to better understand the technological and cultural influences between ocean and river communities in the Mediterranean.

A bi-national team from France’s Camille Jullian Center and Croatia’s Archaeological Museum of Istria (AMI) will then reconstruct the vessel to study its construction in closer detail, focusing on the sewing fibers and woodworking techniques used to build the structure.

After it is analyzed in Istria, the Zambratija boat will be desalted, and in 2024 it will be transported to the Arc-NuclĂ©art conservation-restoration workshop in Grenoble. Researchers hope to eventually exhibit the vessel in a museum exhibiting Pula’s maritime history.


Pretty interesting form of boat building, we think! There will undoubtedly be more on this discovery and investigation and should we come across it, we will bring it to you

Until next time,

                                       Fair Winds,

                                             Old (and getting older!) Salt