Category Archives: History

The Legacy of the Sailor Poet Gorch Foch, Killed in the Battle of Jutland

Johann Wilhelm Kinau was one of the more than 8,000 sailors who died in the Battle of Jutland just over 100 years ago. Kinau was 36 when he was killed while serving as a lookout on the German light cruiser … Continue reading

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The Mulberries Battle the Storm — June 19, 1944

Seventy-two years ago today, during the early days of the Allied invasion of Europe, the sea would prove to be as formidable an enemy as the Germans. A storm, the worst in 80 years, came close to wiping out the … Continue reading

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Remembering the General Slocum Disaster of June 15, 1904

One hundred and twelve years ago today, the disaster on the General Slocum resulted in one of the largest loss of life in New York City prior to the attacks of 9/11/01. At around 9AM on June 15, 1904, approximately 1,350 passengers, … Continue reading

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Bom Jesus — More Gold From Shipwreck on a Beach of Diamonds

Once again, the media is reporting a story of the discovery of a shipwreck which sounds very familiar. Recently, the Independent reported: “The wreckage of a 500-year-old Portuguese ship filled with gold coins has been unearthed by miners in a … Continue reading

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Headstone To Honor Legendary Naval Architect John W. Griffiths

On Saturday, July 23rd, the National Maritime Historical Society will unveil a headstone at the previously unmarked grave of legendary naval architect John W. Griffiths. The ceremony will take place in Queens at the Linden Hill United Methodist Cemetery at … Continue reading

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The Death of Lord Kitchener & the Sinking of HMS Hampshire

One hundred years today, on June 5, 1916, Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener, the British Secretary of State for War, drowned when the HMS Hampshire sank in the North Sea off the Orkneys. Of the 655 crewmen and 7 passengers, including Lord Kitchener, aboard … Continue reading

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On the 100th Anniversary — Jellicoe & the Battle of Jutland

The Battle of Jutland, which was fought 100 years ago today, was one of the greatest modern sea battles and arguably, changed the course of World War I.  In the battle, 250 ships, manned by 10,000 sailors fought for 12 … Continue reading

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On Memorial Day — Remembering the US Merchant Mariners of WWII

What was the most dangerous service in World War II? The Army, the Navy, the Marines?  In fact, it was the Merchant Marine. 1 in 26 mariners serving aboard merchant ships in World WW II died in the line of duty, suffering … Continue reading

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New Chatham “Command of the Oceans” Exhibit Features Timbers From HMS Namur

On Thursday, the Chatham Historic Dockyard opened its new exhibit “Command of the Oceans” to the public. The centerpiece of the display are timbers from the 90-gun second-rate ship of the line, HMS Namur.  The ship was built in the … Continue reading

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World War II Combat Footage – Sinking of the Bismarck

Seventy-five years today, the Royal Navy sank the German battleship Bismark in a three-day running battle in which the Bismark sunk the British battle cruiser HMS Hood.  Ultimately, the German battleship was disabled when her rudder was damaged in a … Continue reading

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HMS Hood’s Bell Rings Again, 75 Years After Being Sunk by the Bismark

On May 24, 1941, the battlecruiser HMS Hood  exploded after being struck by several shells from the German battleship Bismark during the Battle of Denmark Strait. The Hood sank within three minutes with the loss of 1,415 sailors, all but three of her crew; … Continue reading

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A Tombstone for Titanic Hero Robert John Hopkins in Jersey City

Robert John Hopkins was one of the lesser-known heroes on the Titanic. He died in 1943 at the age of 77 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Holy Name Cemetery, in Jersey City, NJ.  Last Saturday, his descendants gathered … Continue reading

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HMS Caroline, Last Jutland Survivor, Restored in Time for Centenial

HMS Caroline, a decommissioned Royal Navy C-class light cruiser, is the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland, and one of only three surviving Royal Navy warships of the First World War. Now in Belfast, she has undergone a many … Continue reading

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Media Announces Discovery of Cook’s HMS Endeavour — Again

The news has been full of announcements about the discovery of Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour by the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) near the harbor at Newport, Rhode, Island. Much of the reporting has been somewhat confused. The Daily Mail, for … Continue reading

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Harriett Tubman and the Great Combahee Ferry Raid

This is an updated repost from 2014. Now that it has been announced that Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackon on the US $20 bill, it seems worthwhile to recall the Great Combahee Ferry Raid, which Harriet Tubman helped plan, scouted and … Continue reading

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SS Great Britain — “The Greatest Experiment Since the Creation”

  I recently visited the museum ship SS Great Britain, in Bristol, UK.  When she was launched in 1843, the iron-hulled luxury passenger steamship SS Great Britain was described as “the greatest experiment since the Creation.”

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Throwback Thursday: New York Harbor Tugs — Then & Now

When I arrived in New York back in the mid-70s, a vast fleet of tugs swarmed across the harbor like so many water beetles.  Most kept busy assisting ships in docking. Now there are fewer but larger ships, many with … Continue reading

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German WWI Destroyers V44 & V82 Lost and Now Found in Portsmouth Harbor

British archeologists have located the wrecks of two German destroyers, V44  and V82, from World War I in an unlikely location — on the tidal mudflats near Whale Island in the eastern part of Portsmouth Harbour, opposite the Brittany Ferries … Continue reading

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Peter Stanford, South Street Seaport Museum Founder, Dies at 89

Peter Stanford, an icon of maritime historical preservation in the United States, died yesterday at the age of 89. In 1967, Peter and his wife Norma founded the South Street Seaport Museum on New York City’s East River waterfront. Peter Stanford … Continue reading

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Lost US Navy Tug USS Conestoga Discovered After 95 Years

On March 25th, 1921, the US Navy ocean-going tug, USS Conestoga, with a coal barge in tow, steamed out of Mare Island, California, bound for Tutuila, American Samoa, by way of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The tug, barge and crew disappeared. … Continue reading

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