Category Archives: History

King Harald “Blåtand” Gormsson, Bluetooth & the Jelling Stone Ship

Remember King Harald “Blåtand” Gormsson? No? The king of Denmark and later Norway in the late 10th century. The name still doesn’t ring a bell?  His rune mark is embedded in your phone and possibly your earbuds and speakers. His … Continue reading

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US & Soviet Nuclear Submarine Collision Kept Hidden Over 40 Years

A Russian spy ship lingering off the US coast has been in the news recently. Within the last day or so, the spy ship Viktor Leonov was hanging out off the US Navy submarine base at New London. (The ship … Continue reading

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Black History Month — William Tillman and the Privateer Jefferson Davis

A post in honor of Black History Month. On Throwback Thursday, a slightly revised post from July, 2011.  William Tillman was the first black hero of the American Civil War. He was not a soldier but rather a 27-year-old  cook-steward … Continue reading

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Frederick Douglass — “I Will Take to the Water”

Frederick Douglass never knew his birthday but he chose to celebrate it every year on February 14th. So happy Frederick Douglass’ birthday and a most joyous Valentine’s Day.  Frederick Douglass was born a slave around 1818. He taught himself to read … Continue reading

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The Fatal Shore, the Loss of the Herzogin Cecilie

Given that so much of what is happening in the world today seems like a shipwreck, it seems appropriate to post a very well done short documentary of the wreck of the great four-masted steel barque the Herzogin Cecilie, which … Continue reading

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“The Twentieth Century”: The Sailing Oystermen

At one time, 2,000 skipjacks dredged for oysters under sail. Now they number fewer than 40 and less than half are actively fishing. Walter Cronkite hosts this documentary that examines a disappearing way of life for Chesapeake Bay skipjack sailors, … Continue reading

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Only Total Naval History Nerds Should Even Try This Quiz

Buzzfeed has a quiz for naval history nerds. I got 11 out of 13. The modern naval questions gave me some problems. How well would you do? Click on the link or the image below. Only Total Naval History Nerds … Continue reading

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Sinking of the Cutter Alexander Hamilton — the USCG First Loss in WWII

Seventy five years ago today, the USCG Cutter Alexander Hamilton was the first United States Coast Guard ship to be be lost in World War II. The cutter was named after the first Secretary of the Treasury, often referred to as the “Father of the … Continue reading

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Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Still Not Quite Home

In February 2014,  the City of Adelaide, the world’s oldest surviving composite clipper ship, returned to her namesake city. Now almost three years later, she still have not quite found a home. The ship is sitting on a deck barge … Continue reading

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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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