Category Archives: History

HMS London Shipwreck — Glimpsing a 300 Year Old Disaster

In 1665, HMS London, a 64-gun second-rate ship of the line of the English Royal Navy, exploded in the Thames Estuary off Southend.  Recent dives on the wreck have recovered a wide range of artifacts and remains.  As reported by the … Continue reading

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LaSalle’s Freeze-Dried Shipwreck La Belle on the Move

Two years ago we posted about how a team of scientists at the Texas A&M University Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation were using freeze-drying to preserve large sections of French explorer’s Robert LaSalle’s flagship, La Belle, which sank in Matagorda Bay in … Continue reading

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Crow’s Nests : Part 2 — Floki, Ravens and Fighting Tops

The crows nest, as a shelter for the lookout on whaling ships sailing the icy waters of the Arctic, was by all indications, invented by Captain William Scoresby around 1807.  (See yesterday’s post:  Crow’s Nests : Part 1 — Melville & … Continue reading

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Crow’s Nests : Part 1 — Melville & Captain Scoresby

The first of a two-part post on crows nests. Who would have thought that a crow’s nest deserves such attention? A reader commented on the lack of a crow’s nest in the video of the Charles W. Morgan under sail … Continue reading

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Update: Yang­­-suis & Archimedes Burning Mirrors

One of the great stories from ancient history is of Archimedes Burning Mirrors.  Legend has it that Archimedes designed a series of curved mirrors to reflect and focus the rays of the sun and that these mirrors were used to set a … Continue reading

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Swedish Warship Mars, Sunk in 1564, Preserved in the Baltic

National Geographic has published breathtaking photographs and video of the Swedish warship Mars, which exploded and sank in the first battle of Öland in 1564.  Because the ship sank in the dark, cold waters of the Baltic Sea, where the … Continue reading

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South Australia Eviro Boss Says Historic Clipper, City of Adelaide, “The Last Thing We Need…”

The composite clipper, City of Adelaide, built in 1864, is the world’s oldest surviving clipper ship. Between 1864 and 1887 the ship made 23 voyages from London and Plymouth to Adelaide, South Australia. Approximately a quarter of a million Australians … Continue reading

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The Dazzle Ships, Then and Now

We posted earlier today about the USS Slater’s dazzle camouflage paint.  Dazzle, sometimes referred to as razzle dazzle, is a very different approach to camouflage.  Where most camouflage attempts to hide an object or person, dazzle camouflage on ships uses … Continue reading

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Update: A Shipwrecked Beer Reborn — Åland Brewery Recreates 170-year-old beer

In 2010, we posted about a shipwreck in the Baltic, off the Åland Islands of Sweden, in which 30 bottles of champagne and 5 bottles of beer were found intact in the wreckage.  In 2011, two bottles of the champagne were … Continue reading

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World War I in Photos: The War at Sea

The Atlantic Monthly has a wonderful feature this month — World War I in Photos: The War at Sea by Alan Taylor. Moving troops and supplies by sea was vital to all armies involved in the war. The battle for … Continue reading

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Will the Real Gallus Mag, or Meg, Stand Up? No Biting, Please

In New York City, there is a story told about Gallus Mag, the bouncer at the ‘Hole in the Wall‘, a bar and brothel on Water Street on the East River waterfront in the mid-1800s. Standing well over 6′ tall, she … Continue reading

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Gods Mortals and Protectors — Figureheads at Mystic Seaport

There is a magic to ship’s figureheads.  In Conrad’s Mirror of the Sea who wrote about the ships and figureheads that he saw on London’s docks:   It was a noble gathering of the fairest and the swiftest, each bearing … Continue reading

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Good News — State of Pennsylvania Commits $4.8 Million to Overhaul Brig Niagara

Good News — the State of Pennsylvania has committed $4.8 million for a major overhaul of the Brig Niagara.  As reported by YourErie.com:  “Maintaining the Brig Niagara, a sea-going legacy of American freedom and the sacrifices of the men who sailed her … Continue reading

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Wreck of Steamer Planter Found On South Carolina Coast — Commanded by Robert Smalls

Two years ago, we posted about the the 150th anniversary of the seizure of the Confederate armed transport, CSS Planter, by Robert Smalls, a 23 year old mulatto slave, and eight fellow slaves. Smalls, who had served as the pilot of the … Continue reading

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Update: SS Port Nicholson — No Platinum So Far

In early 2012, we posted about claims made by Greg Brooks of Sub Sea Research that they had found “the worlds richest shipwreck,” the British freighter, SS Port Nicholson, carrying a secret cargo of 71 tons of platinum, sunk by the … Continue reading

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In Search of Columbus’ Flagship Santa Maria

Columbus’ flagship, Santa Maria, ran aground and sank on Christmas Day 1492 off Haiti, on Columbus’ first voyage to the New World. Now after more than a decade’s research, underwater explorer Barry Clifford believes that he has found the wreck of … Continue reading

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Was the Lusitania Carrying Munitions in 1915? Newly Released Documents Raise Questions

When the Cunard liner RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine during World War I, on May 7, 1915, with the loss of 1,198 passengers and crew, the Germans claimed that the ship was carrying high explosives, which the British … Continue reading

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USNS Comet “The Mother of All Ro-Ros” Available for Donation

Would the world’s first purpose-built oceangoing roll-on/roll-off ship make a good museum? The Maritime Administration (MARAD) is offering the USNS Comet  to a qualified public and non-profit organization for use as a memorial, a museum and/or in “other non-commercial enterprises.” Built at … Continue reading

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From the “Hole-in-the-Wall” to the Bridge Café — Gallus Mag to Hurricane Sandy

In March, we posted about “The Captain Rose House of 1773 & Kit Burns Rat Pit of 1870,” at 273 Water Street in Lower Manhattan. In addition to being the third oldest building in Manhattan, the building has a rich … Continue reading

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Burial at Sea in a Bed-Sheet? Really?

As part of a new exhibit, Rough Medicine: Life and Death in the Age of Sail, at the South Australia Maritime Museum, sail maker Don Lucas was asked to sew a shroud for a child, actually a child-sized manikin, fortunately, to … Continue reading

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