This must be the week of the unusual submarine. We have discovered Chinese subs on Google maps, luxury submarines for the uber-rich, and news of Russia using mini-subs to claim mineral rights at the North Pole. Today a New York Artist and self proclaimed patriot launched his own minisub “attack” in Brooklyn. His target was the Queen Mary 2 and his intention was to get close enough to the mighty vessel for a photo opportunity aboard his latest artistic creation; a reproduction of the first submarine ever used in combat, the American Turtle.
Some history. On Sept. 6, 1776, Turtle, operated by Army Sergeant Ezra Lee and designed by David Bushnell, was used against a British warship anchored in New York Harbor. Unfortunately (or fortunately for the British aboard the HMS Eagle), the submarine’s screw hit an iron plate and was not able to penetrate the hull. Two more dives were unsuccessful.
So what was the Artist thinking when he when he decided to build and operate this homebuilt reproduction of a failed experiment and drive it into the Queen Mary 2? the New York Times provides some insight:
The man, Duke Riley, a heavily tattooed Brooklyn artist whose waterborne performance projects around New York have frequently landed him in trouble with the authorities, spent the last five months building the vessel as a rough replica of what is believed to have been America’s first submarine, an oak sphere called the Turtle, said to have seen action in New York Harbor during the Revolutionary War.
Mr. Riley’s plan was also military, in a sense — though mostly metaphorical, given that he is an artist. He wanted to float north in the Buttermilk Channel to stage an incursion against the Queen Mary 2, which had just docked in Red Hook, the mission objective mostly just to get close enough to the ship to videotape himself against its immensity for a coming gallery show.
But when his sub was stopped by a New York City police boat around 10 a.m., the outcome was not metaphorical at all: Mr. Riley, 35, and two friends who had helped tow him were taken into custody by a phalanx of law enforcement officials, and their excursion briefly raised fears that a terrorist attack might have been under way. Read More…
The punishment? The police impounded the sub, and the Coast Guard issued Duke a citation for violating the ship’s 100-yard security zone. The police issued two more, for unsafe boating.
The watch officer aboard the Queen Mary was probably busy enough without this disturbance. What would your emotion be if an artist “attacked” your ship, during your watch?
(Photos: Damon Winter/The New York Times)
Duke Riley drifted into trouble when his hand-made one man submarine got too close to the Queen Mary II cruise ship in the waters off Red Hook. He was taken in for questioning and his vessel was impounded.
“I would say sorry to anyone that I upset,” Riley said. “I did spend a lot of time on it and I would like to have it back.”
- NY Times Photo Slideshow
- Flickr Photo Slideshow
- Duke Riley’s Homepage
- Duke Riley’s Circumnavigation of Manhattan
- Local Blog Coverage of the Incident
- NY Times Story
- History of the Original Turtle