Category Archives: History

Winter Storm Breaks Up SS Palo Alto — the Strange Career of the “Cement Boat,”

Over the weekend, winter storm Kori sent record high waves smashing into the California coast. The National Weather Service said a new wave record was set as the Monterey Bay buoy recorded 34-foot waves. At Seacliff State Beach in Aptos, … Continue reading

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NY Harbor Ferries & the Other “Miracle on the Hudson”

Eight years ago today, US Airways Flight 1549  made an emergency water landing in the Hudson River. If the plane’s pilots, Captain Chesley “Sulley” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles had not glided the plane in at just the right … Continue reading

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Japanese Galleon San Juan Bautista of 1614 and Today

I love stumbling across bits of history that are completely new to me. The Japanese galleon San Juan Bautista is a good example.  The San Juan Bautista was one of the first Western-style sailing ships to be built in Japan. … Continue reading

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Repost: Saint Nicholas, Patron Saint of Sailors – “May St. Nicholas Hold the Tiller”

In honor of the holiday season, a repost from 2012. We recently learned that good Saint Nicholas, long associated with Christmas and gift-giving, is also the patron saint of ships and sailors. The St. Nicholas Center notes: “Many ports, most … Continue reading

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The Wavy Navy, Stringbags and the Mighty Bismarck

We recently posted about the death of John “Jock” Moffatt, at 97, the Scottish pilot credited with disabling the German battleship Bismarck with a torpedo fired from his Fairey Swordfish biplane in May 1941. In the post, we included a photo of … Continue reading

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Royal Navy Pilot Jock Moffat, Torpedo Crippled the Bismarck, Dies at 97

On May 27, 1941, the German battleship Bismarck had just sunk the pride of the Royal Navy, HMS Hood. As she was close to escaping into safe waters, Bismarck was attacked by a swarm of obsolete Fairey Swordfish biplanes launched from the carrier HMS … Continue reading

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Off Arromanches, a Drone over the Mulberry

Here is a lovely drone video by François Monier of what is left of Mulberry B just offshore near the French village of Arromanches. One of the reasons that the Germans were skeptical of an Allied invasion of Normandy was … Continue reading

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The Fateful Collision of USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma, October 22, 1941

I learned yesterday that USS Arizona was not supposed to be in Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. This is one of those minor facts that invariably seem to pop up to remind us that history is just as often … Continue reading

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On the 75th Anniversary: Pearl Harbor Attack Radio Emergency Broadcast

Seventy five years ago today. Pearl Harbor Attack EMERGENCY RADIO BROADCAST announcement

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Pearl Harbor 75th : Remembering Dorie Miller, Messman with a 50 Caliber

On the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, it is a good time to remember Dorie Miller.  Miller was a Navy messman on the battleship USS West Virginia, who showed incredible courage … Continue reading

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HMHS Britannic, Only Slightly Luckier Sister of the Titanic

Titanic had two sisters — the Olympic and the Britannic. While the Olympic had a productive 24 year operating life, the Britannic was only slightly more lucky than her ill-fated sister, Titanic. Just over 100 years ago, on November 21, … Continue reading

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Mayflower II Arrives in New York in 1957

Yesterday, we posted about the renewal and reconstruction of the Mayflower II at Mystic Seaport Museum. Here is a short video of the ship in 1957 arriving in New York on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic. I love the … Continue reading

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Hauling the Mayflower II at Mystic Seaport

I hope everyone who celebrates the American holiday is having a wonderful Thanksgiving. The holiday is associated with a group of English settlers now known as the Pilgrims who arrived on the Massachusetts coast around 1620 on the ship Mayflower. … Continue reading

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Mystery of the Vanished Dutch WWII Shipwrecks

In 2002, amateur divers discovered the wrecks of three Dutch warships sunk off Indonesia in World War II. The three ships; the HNLMS De Ruyter, HNLMS Java and HNLMS Kortenaer;  were found at 70 meters deep, 60 miles off the … Continue reading

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Oldest Operating Steamship & Boats, Redux

We recently posted, “Which is the Oldest Operating Steamship?” We thought that “the oldest steamer may be the Norwegian PS Skibladner, which began service in August 1856 on Lake Mjøsa. We also asked, “So, which vessels have we missed? Any … Continue reading

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Which is the Oldest Operating Steamship?

Everyone likes superlatives. The oldest, fastest, newest, largest and so on. Often superlatives need to be very specific to be made to apply. HMS Victory, for example, is the oldest naval ship still in commission, while USS Constitution is the oldest … Continue reading

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Saga of ex-Presidential Yacht Sequoia Continues with New Owner

The National Historic Landmark and ex-presidential yacht Sequoia has fallen on hard times. In a recent ruling, Delaware judge Sam Glasscock describes her current condition. “The Sequoia, an elderly and vulnerable wooden yacht, is sitting on an inadequate cradle on an … Continue reading

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Update: MV Liemba, Oldest Passenger Ferry Turns 102

Two years ago, we posted about MV Liemba — the World’s Oldest Passenger/Cargo Steamer at 100. Now 102 years old, MV Liemba continues her passenger and cargo ferry service along the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. With luck and funding from … Continue reading

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Brass Nails May Help Solve Mystery of the Acre Tower Shipwreck

The mystery of the Acre (Akko) Tower shipwreck may be closer to being solved. The Jerusalem Post reports that 100 hundred brass nails may have given away the secret. Discovered in 1966, the wreck was long assumed to be a British naval … Continue reading

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Vasili Arkhipov, Soviet Submarine Commander Who May Have Saved the World

Fifty two years ago today, the world came perilously close to being destroyed in a nuclear World War III. Fortunately, one brave Soviet naval officer stood in the way. Imagine — a Soviet submarine is trapped by an American destroyer … Continue reading

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