mm sept 19 – bad grammar is the new black

Monkey Fist
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September 18, 2011


The Art of Bernard Finnigan Gribble; Scapa Flow; 21 June 1919

Imperial German Navy Fleet, Scapa Flow; Suicide and Salvage: Video

imageIf you go just about as far north as you can go by car, and then take a two hour ferry ride, you will end up in the Orkney Islands. Beautiful and rugged, the islands cover an area of some 1200 square miles of wild ocean, encompassing some seventy tiny islands. The Ocandians make a living much as they always have, fishing the wild seas and farming the bare windswept land. Apart from its awesome beauty, (when the sun sets on a clear evening, you wonder if it is the start of the second coming) Orkney has little to commend it apart from the friendliness of its people and a particularly good malt whisky.

However there is one thing that makes these islands unique, and that is Scapa Flow, just about the best natural anchorage anywhere in the world. Hated by generations of sailors for its desolate location and mind numbing boredom…

Scapa Flow – The German Valhalla »

Map of the wrecks in Scapa Flow


Dutch and American Officers examine an 18-foot torpedo shot up on the Caribbean beach of Aruba by a Nazi U-Boat.  Soon afterward it exploded, killing four Dutch torpedo experts who were engaged in dismantling it.

The Beach in War: Nazi Torpedo Catches Some Rays in Aruba by monkeyfist
on Scuttlefish

Aruba was a British protectorate from 1940 to 1942 and a US protectorate from 1942 to 1945. On February 16, 1942, its oil processing refinery was attacked by the German submarine U-156.  The mission failed. U-156 was later (8 March 1943) destroyed by a US plane as its crew was sunbathing.

Only one crewman was lost during the action in Aruba. Matrosengefreiter (able seaman) Heinrich Bussinger was killed when the deck cannon he was manning exploded because the cap in the end of the gun, (that prevented water from entering the barrel) was not removed prior to it’s firing, causing the gun barrel to explode…

see also:

*torpedo image via Life magazine March 2, 1942The Gilded Century – (full page)


King George VI formal review of crew of U.S.S. Augusta

“The U.S.S. Augusta, CA 31, a heavy cruiser to sea in 1931. This photo the day before D-Day for the King’s formal review of the crew, This crane lifted the Augusta’s aircraft from the well deck to the catapults. The gun seen to port exploded during a practice run in Chesapeake Bay (U.S.), killing three crewmen. There were four 5” anti-aircraft guns on tis deck, two port, two starboard. Sailors on the left are facing forward: those to the right are facing aft. The Augusta was moored fore and aft in the Tamar River in Plymouth, England, with other vessel, all British. The ship’s bow was downstream. The Augusta, after decommisioning, was sold for scrap and towed to a facility in New Jersey for the teardown.

photo posted by Douglas Siple, taken by his father.


Maps of Shackleton’s 1907-1909 Antarctic Expedition on Big Map Blog

Some beautifully-colored maps done by Marshall for the venerable Royal Geographical Society. These depict Irish explorer Shackleton’s remarkable Antarctic Nimrod Expedition, which is well-worth reading about.


Blackpool, England: Illuminated Trawler Tram

Blackpool Illuminations is an annual Lights Festival, founded in 1879 and first switched on 18 September that year, held each autumn in the English seaside resort of Blackpool on the Fylde Coast in Lancashire.

Also known locally as The Lights or The Illuminations, they run each year for sixty-six days, from late August until early November at a time when most other English seaside resorts’ seasons are coming to an end. Dubbed as “the greatest free light show on earth”, they are 6 miles (10 km) long and use over one million bulbs. The original event preceded Thomas Edison’s patent of the electric light bulb by twelve months.

In 2011 the Illuminations will shine from 2 September to 6 November.

more on wiki »


Aquitania / Halifax 1946

Aunt Helen took this while a nursing student in Halifax NS, 1946. Camera tyoe unknown. Scanned from the small print. Returning Canadian soldiers, or warbrides. These liners would dock at Pier 21, now a heritage site in Halifax. The horizon is level, but the ship is alist from passengers crowding the rail for a look landward. large

see also: RMS Queen Mary / Halifax, Nova Scotia 1946Cunard RMS Queen Elizabeth Halifax Nova Scotia 1957 (a)RMS Queen Elizabeth, Halifax NS, 1957 (b)


Pacific Scirocco by Joan Ward

Ultra-deepwater drill on delivery voyage from builders, and about to commence a 12 months charter to Total, Nigeria. Arrived outside Cape Town harbor on 25 June 2011.

Full specs on ship:


image via vesseltracker

Family blames cargo ship for close call:

Man and two-year-old daughter threatened by massive wave while fishing on shore, he says

A dad and his two-year-old daughter are lucky to be alive after a mini tsunami-style wave almost swept them out to sea on the weekend.

One moment, Stuart Sequeira was shore-fishing at high tide in the fading Saturday evening sunshine at the sheltered inlet behind the new Garry Point dock in Steveston with his daughter, Chloe, and his father, Mike.

The next, both adults looked up to see a large container ship carrying cars sweep past them 50 yards from the floating dock. Within a few seconds, the sea was sucked out from the shoreline, exposing a 15-foot drop in depth to sea grass and rocks.

more »


THE HOTSPUR; For Football, Fun, and Jet-Propelled Thrills (England)

Spitfire back in the air after 71 years »

A Second World War Spitfire, which crashed on a beach in northern France, has been restored to its former glory.

Seventy-one years ago, an RAF Spitfire, piloted by a raffish recently-bankrupted Old Etonian on his first combat mission, crash-landed on a beach near Calais. Fuming but unscathed, Flight Officer Peter Cazenove made a rapid exit from the scene, while his plane began a more leisurely disappearance into the wet sand. By the end of the war, there was little to see of it but a few inches of tail fin and a propeller tip.

Last week, Supermarine Spitfire P9374 was back in the air – restored to factory condition in one of the most intricate aircraft rescue projects ever attempted. (click through for video)

more »


British Warships in Cossack Bay, Balaklava; collection: Crimean War

see also: Sailing Ship – The Crimean War was one of the first wars to be documented extensively in written reports and photographs: notably by William Russell (for The Times newspaper) and Roger Fenton respectively. News correspondence reaching Britain from the Crimea was the first time the public were kept informed of the day-to-day realities of war.


British bombardment of the fortress Bomarsund
(Aland Islands) during the Crimean War. Drawing from 1854


HMS King Edward VII (1903) in early 1907

Scanned from Burt, R. A. British Battleships 1889-1904. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1988 – HMS King Edward VII, named after King Edward VII, was the lead ship of her class of Royal Navy pre-dreadnought battleships. Laid down at Devonport Dockyard on 8 March 1902. She was launched by King Edward VII on 23 July 1903. Completed in February 1905, and was made obsolete in less than two years by the commissioning of the revolutionary battleship Dreadnought at the end of 1906 and the large numbers of the new dreadnought battleships that commissioned in succeeding years. The King Edward VII-class battleships were known as “The Wobbly Eight”. Mined off Cape Wrath, 6 January 1916; she capsized and sank nine hours after the explosion.

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How Gay Panic Gripped 1960s Royal Navy

imageThe Royal Navy was so gripped by a security panic over gay servicemen in the late 1960s, admirals believed at least half of the entire fleet had “sinned homosexually”.

Documents released by the Public Record office reveal commanders buried a series of scandals including homosexual affairs on an aircraft carrier, transsexual prostitutes in the Far East and hundreds of men using a “male brothel” in Bermuda.

One admiral concluded that homosexual activity was “rife” and a special inquiry called for more moral education to prevent the defences being undermined.

more »


“The press brings in all sorts.”
Captain Jack Aubrey, Master and Commander
/ The Dear Surprise


Navy Clears Gay WWII Vet’s Record

(AP)  SAN DIEGO — Nearly 70 years after expelling Melvin Dwork for being gay, the Navy is changing his discharge from “undesirable” to “honorable” — marking what is believed to be the first time the Pentagon has taken such a step on behalf of a World War II veteran since the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The Navy notified the 89-year-old former corpsman last month that he will now be eligible for the benefits he had long been denied, including medical care and a military burial.

Dwork spent decades fighting to remove the blot on his record.

“I resented that word ‘undesirable,'” said Dwork, who was expelled in 1944, at the height of the war, and is now a successful interior designer in New York. “That word really stuck in my craw. To me it was a terrible insult. It had to be righted. It’s really worse than ‘dishonorable.’ I think it was the worst word they could have used.”

more »


We’ll Shew ’em Who Rules the WavesGuardians of Empire


8 Bells: Keith Tantlinger

Keith Tantlinger, who died on August 27 aged 92, developed the technology that launched containerised shipping – in the process redrawing the global economic map by transforming the way cargo is moved internationally.

The story of containerisation began in the 1950s, when Malcolm McLean, a North Carolina trucking magnate who was looking for ways to make his trucking service more competitive, hit on the idea of sending his trucks by coastal ships to cities on the East Coast of America. In 1955 he bought Waterman Steamship Corporation, one of the largest shipping lines in the country.

His original plan had been to create roll-on roll-off ships that would carry his trucks and reduce costs for customers by nearly 75 per cent. However, he was not entirely happy with the idea because the truck tyres would take up valuable space and he would not be able to stack the trucks on top of one another. To find a solution he turned to Tantlinger, then vice-president of engineering at Brown Industries, a company which supplied MacLean with truck trailers.

The idea of transporting cargos in a sealed metal box is a simple one, and indeed containers had been in use since the 19th century to haul heavy cargo like coal. It was not the box that Tantlinger designed, but the all-important twist-locks, corner posts, cell guides, spreader bars and other paraphernalia which make it possible to lift and lower containers on and off ships and stack them safely.

more »


A-90 “Orlyonok” (“Eaglet”)

“This 140 tonne, 58 meter long aircraft had its maiden flight in 1972. The A-90 boasted two turbojets and one turboprop engine which propelled it to a speed of 400 km/h for 1,500 km at an cruise altitude of 5-10 m.”

They hover and skim above the water surface at speeds of up to 250 miles an hour, they carry heavier loads of cargo and troops than any airplane – the Ekranoplans, or “Wing-in-Ground” (WIG) vehicles are possibly the most exciting and strange looking technology ever designed by men.

Developed mostly by Soviets during Cold Wars years (by Rostislav Alexeev’s design firm) some of them were over 500 feet in length and had an estimated weight of over 500 tons! And yet they skimmed over the waves with grace, at high speeds, able to negotiate stormy conditions, unseen by radar – all thanks to an aerodynamic principle known as the “ground effect”.

Ekranoplans Showcase »


Ships in the Harbor, Hamburg, Germany


Bryan James, a volunteer in a research lab at WHOI, tells how he spent part of his summer vacation—on a whirlwind journey scouring Gulf of Mexico beaches to collect samples from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Research Road Trip
Audio slideshow: A three-day, 500-mile quest for tarballs

imageWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Oceanus Magazine

Science in a Time of Crisis
A website with videos on WHOI’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Oil in the Ocean : Deepwater Horizon


Seaweed Harvesters; Zanzibar


Voyages of the M/S Fidelio: Isis & British Fidelity; outside of Fremantle, Jakarta; waiting for a berth


Do Liveaboard Boaters Receive Fair Housing Law Protection?

By David Weil, Esq., Featured in The Log News 9/15/2011

Q: We live aboard our boat in a marina in Southern California, and we recently received an eviction notice. The notice was actually described as a “Notice of Lease Termination,” but since we live aboard, it amounts to an eviction. The notice provided no reason for the eviction, but we believe that we are being discriminated against because our two small children live aboard with us. We have contacted two attorneys, but we have received two different opinions about our legal rights. The first attorney said that we were protected against this type of discrimination by various fair housing laws, but the other attorney advised that we are not protected by those laws because a slip tenancy is interpreted under federal maritime law. Can you shed some light on this?

more »
(image source)

Deep Trouble for the Deep SeaPew video on


The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle (set: of 29)

see also:
Report on the zoological collections made in the Indo-Pacific
Ocean during the voyage of HMS Alert in 1881-2

HMS Alert (1856) was a 17-gun wooden screw sloop of the Cruizer class of the Royal Navy, launched in 1856 and broken up in 1894. She was the eleventh ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name (or a variant of it), and was noted for her Arctic exploration work.

The expedition aimed to reach the North Pole via Smith Sound, the sea passage between Greenland and Canada’s northernmost island, Ellesmere Island. Contemporary geographers proposed that there could be a Open Polar Sea, and that if the thick layer of ice surrounding it were overcome, access to the North Pole by sea might be possible.

Despite finding heavier-than-expected ice, the expedition pressed on. Spring 1876 saw considerable activity by sledge, charting the coasts of Ellsmere Island and Greenland, but scurvy had begun to take hold, with Alert suffering the greatest burden. On 3 April the second-in-command of Alert, Albert Hastings Markham, took a party north to attempt the Pole. By 11 May, having made slow progress, they reached their greatest latitude at 83° 20′ 26″N. Suffering from snow blindness, scurvy and exhaustion, they turned back. 

more on wiki »


HMS Alert (source and many more photos from the British Arctic Expedition)  [FULL SIZE]

Brixham trawler rescued in heavy seas: video

By Steffan Meyric-Hughes // September 8, 2011 — This Monday, Leader, the 19th-century Brixham trawler, was dismasted and ran into heavy seas off Portland Bill. The boat and all crew were towed to safety by the RNLI. It does give you pause for thought these days to know that whatever happens at sea will end up on YouTube!  –via


John Brown & Co Ltd, Atlas Steel & Iron Works, Sheffield – 1879

One of the great power houses of the British Industrial Revolution was Sheffield, and one of the great names of the nascent steel industry in the mid-nineteenth century was John Brown. This wonderful engraving is a ‘birds-eye’ of the vast works straddling the Midland Railway.


Dockworkers and Panama Canal pilots unions form alliance

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has been worried about the potential loss of cargo, jobs and collective bargaining power that could occur when the Panama Canal expansion opens in 2014.

Los Angeles Times: The union representing West Coast dockworkers has formed an alliance with pilots who guide ships through the Panama Canal, a link-up that could boost the bargaining power of both unions.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union represents workers in the U.S. and Canada, including 50,000 longshore and other workers on the West Coast. The union has been concerned about the potential loss of cargo, jobs and collective bargaining power that could occur when the Panama Canal expansion opens in 2014.

more »


Steamship Normannia, Algiers, Algeria

The steamship AUGUSTA VICTORIA was laid down for the Hamburg-America Line as the NORMANNIA by AG Vulcan, Stettin (yard #183), but was launched on 1 December 1888 as the AUGUSTA VICTORIA, after Auguste Victoria, wife of the Emperor Wilhelm II. (the error in the first name was not discovered until after the launching, and was officially changed in 1897). 7,661 tons; 140,5 (144,8) x 16,9 meters (length x breadth); straight stem, 3 funnels, 3 masts; steel construction, twin-screw propulsion, triple-expansion engines (13,500 psi), service speed 19 knots; accommodation for 400 passengers in 1st class, 120 in 2nd class, and 580 in steerage; crew of 245.  more »


Hospital Ship Grantully Castle

GRANTULLY CASTLE was built in 1910 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow for Union Castle with a tonnage of 7612grt, a length of 450ft 7in, a beam of 54ft 4in and a service speed of 13 knots.

In January 1915 she was being used as a troopship and while at Mudros during the Gallipoli campaign, in company with the Alnwick Castle, and Balmoral Castle, was held for five weeks from 18th March; when the troops, (because of mines) were unable to force the Dardanelles straits until 23rd April when they eventually landed to oppose a reinforced Turkish army.

She left the Dardanelles on 1st May 1915 for Malta where she was commissioned as a hospital ship with 552 beds. She reverted to Union-Castle on 11th March 1919 and served for a further 20 years before being broken up in 1939. full size original


Postcard of Laura at Granville

Laura was built in 1885 for the Southampton-St.Malo/Cherbourg services of the London & South Western Railway. She passed to the Southern Railway in 1923, and in 1927 was sold to the Bahamas, renamed City of Nassau. 641 gross tons.


Happy Birthday, Boston (Boston Harbor, 1776)

In honor of Boston’s 381st birthday tomorrow (September 17th), here’s another map of Boston Harbor, this one French and 18th-Century.

Boston Harbor was mapped quite a bit in the early stages of European colonization. It’s fascinating to watch it evolve.  on Big Map Blog

see also: Anniversary of the Siege of Savannah (1779)


Nautical Movie of the Week: All The Brothers Were Valiant (1953)

Sea-faring saga of two brothers (Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger) and the woman they both love. Set against South Pacific islands, this love triangle pits the good brother against the bad as they squabble over Ann Blyth and a bag of pearls on the floor of a lagoon; the bad boy redeems himself, however, by helping fend off a mutiny.

imageStarring: Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger, Ann Blyth, Keenan Wynn, James Whitmore

Taylor is wooden and stoic, and he drags the picture down with his deadly monotone and lifeless line readings. He looks sedated when energy is in order. The only intense scenes involve Granger’s flashbacks, in which he falls in with some very dangerous men who lead him to the pearls on a very pretty South Seas island. I also found the views of old New Bedford to be very evocative.

Some might find the (one) whaling scene in the picture interesting, but then again, you might find scenes of a whale being cut up like sausage to be a total turn off. The scenes disgusted me. Times have changed, you will never see anything like that in a current Hollywood film. The whaling ship itself does not look real (among other things, it is way too clean and unworn)…

Granger valiantly tries to swash-buckle through the film, but rarely manages it. The title is meant to have multiple meanings, which, like much else in the script, is an unnecessary complication with a fuzzy implication.

*Monkey Fist adds: watched this last night on Turner Classic Movies.  It wasn’t bad, really.  A little operatic perhaps, but a better script than one would expect considering the turgid subject matter. The women are simple minded and overly-emotive help-mates around whom little real drama revolves, the crew, however, is another matter.  They are a mercenary and malignant blob whose shape shifting allegiances seem capricious and idiotic but the menace is very real. I give it 3 flukes up.


EX LIBRIS – Eastern European Bookplates (Set: 132); Noah’s Ark


John and Joanne Spencer stand with family member Dorothy Wilkinson after Wilkinson
received awards honoring her late husband, William D. Wilkinson.

Coast Guard Ceremony Honors Maritime Historian

The late William D. Wilkinson is recognized in an event at the historic U.S. Life Saving Station 30 in Ocean City.

The U.S. Coast Guard presented Wilkinson’s widow, Dorothy Wilkinson, with the Meritorious Public Service Award and the Foundation for Coast Guard History Award. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Sara Wallace and Vice Adm. James Hill made the presentation.

Wilkinson was a maritime scholar who completed exhaustive research into coastal rescue craft and Coast Guard history. His book, American Coastal Rescue Craft, was published shortly before he died in 2009.

more »

Here we see a classic example of bad web site design.

What city, what state is this from?

In some archaic carry-over from print days, news sites assume that only people within the coverage area will be seeing this page, and will KNOW from whence it came.  This is the internet era folks.  People from all over the world, using any number of search terms, might land on your site.  Their eyes scan the splash, up, down, back forth, scrolling down to the bottom and all over.

WTF?  Where are you people?  Ocean City WHERE???  How many frikkin Ocean Citys are there between the 2 US coasts and Canada?  As a New Englander, I often land on sites originating from Portsmouth, York, Brighton, and even a Boston in the UK.  If it wasn’t for the use of twee phrases like ‘more tea vicar’ and ‘bless his little cotton socks’, one might not have the slightest clue what hemisphere they were even in.

Get with it, editors.  I should be able to discern with seconds from what part of the world you are reporting.

–Monkey Fist.


The Problems with Mermaid Love
source: Amazing Ghost Stories 14, St John Comics, October 1954


Silent Might; The Art of Bernard Finnigan Gribble

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