Category Archives: History

Farewell to the Ferry Kalakala, Art Deco Icon Heads to the Scrap Yard

The ferry MV Kalaka is making its last voyage today, a short trip to the scrap yard. The 276′ ferry carried millions of cars in the Puget Sound between Seattle and Bremerton between 1935 and 1967 and was notable for her streamlined … Continue reading

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Salvatore Polisi 1935 – 2015

New York harbor has lost part of its living history with the passing of Sal Polisi, longtime volunteer and master carver at the South Street Seaport Museum. For three decades, Polisi carved everything from figureheads to wooden signs, using the time honored methods of … Continue reading

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Wind Power in New York Harbor — 1815 and Today

Recently, the NY Times and others have been reporting on the installation of the first commercial wind turbine in New York City. The Sims Municipal Recycling facility in Sunset Park on the Brooklyn waterfront has installed a 100 KW 160′ … Continue reading

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Harwich Mayflower Making Progress

As we posted in December, the Mayflower II, a replica of the ship which brought the Pilgrims across the Atlantic in 1620, is now undergoing a multi-year restoration in the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. … Continue reading

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Watching the Ball Drop — the Nautical Origins of a New Year’s Tradition

Last night in New York City, up to one million people watched a jeweled ball drop in Time Square at exactly midnight to mark the arrival of the New Year. Over a billion people are believed to have watched the festivities … Continue reading

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Alan Villiers, Mayflower II, Joseph Conrad and Mystic Seaport

While not a particular believer in ghosts, if the ghost of Alan Villiers is about, I suspect that he must smiling.  The arrival of the Mayflower II at Mystic Seaport Museum is the reunion, of sorts, of two ships long … Continue reading

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SS City of Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco’s Deadliest Shipwreck Found Again

Recently, History.com featured an article titled “Found: San Francisco’s Deadliest Shipwreck.” They reported that the wreck of the 345-foot Pacific Mail Line passenger steamer SS City of Rio de Janeiro had been found by NOAA researchers using high-definition sonar in 287 feet … Continue reading

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72 Years Later, Captain Claudius Credited with Sinking U-Boat

On July 30, 1942, Herbert Claudius in command of the patrol boat PC 566 was escorting passenger ship passenger ship Robert E. Lee in the Gulf of Mexico, southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The German U-boat U-166 … Continue reading

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The Original Pearl Harbor Attack Emergency Radio Broadcast from Washington DC

In honor of the 73th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Originally posted December 7, 2010. The Original Pearl Harbor Attack Radio Emergency Broadcast from Washington DC Thanks to Dave Shirlaw on the  Marine History list for pointing out the … Continue reading

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Liberty Ship SS John W. Brown Steaming Home to Baltimore

After spending a month on dock at Colonna’s Shipyard in Norfolk, VA, the Liberty ship SS John W. Brown  is now steaming up the Elizabeth River on its way back home to Baltimore.  During World War II, eighteen American shipyards built … Continue reading

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The Tjipetir Mystery — Gutta Percha Blocks & the Miyazaki Maru

For the last several years, and perhaps much longer, blocks of a rubber-like substance have been washing ashore on the beaches of Great Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The blocks are rectangular with rounded corners and … Continue reading

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Thanksgiving, Whaling Ships, Sarah Josepha Hale, Mary’s Lamb & a Liberty Ship

Happy Thanksgiving!  Thanksgiving is one of the central creation myths of the founding of the United States. The story is based on an account of a one time feast of thanksgiving in the Plymouth colony of Massachusetts in 1621 during … Continue reading

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The Board of Longitude Project — Digitizing 18th Century Science and Technology

The Board of Longitude Project, a partnership between Cambridge University Library and the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich in the UK, has digitized the complete papers of the Board of Longitude from its founding in 1714 until its abolition in 1828. … Continue reading

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The Wreck of the Antares on Australia’s Shipwreck Coast 1914

Here is a short video by Sean and James McAnulty, narrated by Rex Mathieson, telling of his family history with the wreck of the full rigged sailing ship Antares, which came ashore in 1914 on Victoria, Australia’s “Shipwreck Coast.” The story of the … Continue reading

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The Grand Banks Tsunami — 85 Years Ago Today

The word tsunami usually brings to mind seismic waves in the Pacific or the Indian Oceans. Eighty five years ago today, an major earthquake, in the Atlantic, approximately 250 km south of Newfoundland along the southern edge of the Grand … Continue reading

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Horizon Line Sold — the End of an Era

Yesterday, Horizon Line, a US Flag Jones Act container ship operator, announced that it was ending operations. It had sold its Alaskan service to Matson, its Hawaiian operations to Pasha Group, and would be shutting down its operations to Puerto … Continue reading

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On Armistice Day, Remembering the German High Seas Fleet Mutiny of 1918

In the US, today is Veteran’s Day, when we honor those who have served in the military.  It coincides with Armistice Day, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended World War I, on the 11th hour of the … Continue reading

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MV Liemba — the World’s Oldest Passenger/Cargo Steamer at 100

Recently, the BBC published an article titled WW1: The indestructible warship.  The article refers to the Graf Goetzen. Calling her the “indestructible warship” seems to be a bit of an exaggeration. As warships go, she was not very impressive and given that … Continue reading

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Panoramic and Audio Tour of USS Pampanito

Thanks to Richard Pekelney for passing along the link to a wonderful panoramic and audio tour of the USS Pampanito, a World War II Balao class Fleet submarine museum and memorial that is open for visitors daily at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. … Continue reading

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Ship’s Bell from Franklin’s HMS Erebus Recovered

In September, the wreck of one of the two ships in Franklin’s lost  expedition of 1845 was located near the the Victoria Strait in Canada. As both ships in the expedition were similar sized bomb vessels, modified for exploration, it was initially unclear whether … Continue reading

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