Category Archives: History

Secrets of the Sea — A Tang Shipwreck and Early Trade in Asia

A new exhibit opens today at the Asia Society Museum in New York City, ‘Secrets of the Sea: A Tang Shipwreck and Early Trade in Asia.‘  The exhibit features a selection of 78 artifacts including ceramics, gold and silver items … Continue reading

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William Liebenow, Decorated WWII PT Boat Skipper, Dies at 97

William “Bud” Liebenow recently died at the age of 97. He served on patrol torpedo boats, PT boats, in both the Pacific and the Atlantic during World War II. He was best known as the commander of PT-157, which rescued Jack … Continue reading

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Carnival’s First Ship — TSS Mardi Gras

Today Carnival Corporation is the largest operator of cruise ships in the world with a combined fleet of over 100 vessels across 10 cruise line brands. Back in 1972, however, it owned exactly one ship, the RMS Empress of Canada, which … Continue reading

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African American Whaling Ship Captains: Part 2 — William Thomas Shorey, the Black Ahab

As we noted in our post yesterday, over nearly three centuries of whaling, some 175,000 men went to sea in 2,700 ships. Of the 2,500 masters who captained whaling ships, at least 63 were men of color. Many of the … Continue reading

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African American Whaling Ship Captains: Part 1 — Absalom Boston

As Black History Month for 2017 comes to a close, we look at African American whaling ship captains. Over nearly three centuries of whaling, some 175,000 men went to sea in 2,700 ships. Of the 2,500 masters who captained these … Continue reading

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German Bomb Dredged up in Portsmouth Harbor

In 2011, a drought lowered the levels of the Rhine River, revealing unexploded munitions from World War II partially buried in the river banks exposed by the falling waters. Now, in Portsmouth harbor in the UK, World War II bombs are also being uncovered, not due … Continue reading

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Black History Month — Harriett Tubman & the Great Combahee Ferry Raid

As Black History Month winds to a close, here is a throwback Thursday repost of a story I think is well worth telling and retelling.   Born a slave, Harriet Tubman escaped and would become a leading “conductor” on the “Underground … Continue reading

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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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