Maritime McMondayface or, a Tempest in a Teapot

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April 24, 2016

A true description of His Majesties royall ship, built this yeare 1637. at Wooll-witch in Kent

Shakespeare’s Ships Keep Plots Afloat

shakespeare-pirate smWere it not for the intervention of pirates, Hamlet would have ended up in England with his neck on a chopping block, and Claudius would have reigned unchallenged as King of Denmark. Ships are important turning points, or plot catalysts, in many of Shakespeare plays. Rather than mere vessels of haulage, ships are carriers of hope and despair, fortune and misfortune, death and rebirth.

In The Merchant of Venice, for example, the entire plot turns on one event: the shocking, unexpected foundering of Antonio’s ships. Shakespeare’s ships and the seas they sail serve not only as fulcrums on which plots turn but also as conveyances in which Shakespeare delivers stunning imagery. keep reading

SHAKESPEARE returning to Devonport after 19 months operational activity in the Mediterranean

 British Submarine HMS Shakespeare

HMS Shakespeare (P221) was an S class submarine of the Royal Navy, built by Vickers-Armstrongs and launched on 8 December 1941. She was damaged by gunfire and air attack in the Nankauri Strait, Andaman Islands on 3 January 1945, whilst engaged with the Japanese auxiliary minesweeper Wa 1. Both ships were damaged. Shakespeare returned to port, but was written off as a constructive total loss.


more: pictures of craft and crew

Seafood From Slaves Myanmar
Burmese fisherman smiling as they arrive in Tual, Indonesia. AP Photo / Dita Alangkara

“Seafood from Slaves” – Pulitzer Prizes: AP Wins Public Service Award
For Slave Labor Investigation

slaveshipGlobal supermarkets selling shrimp peeled by slaves in Thailand.  Every morning at 2 a.m., they heard a kick on the door and a threat: Get up or get beaten. For the next 16 hours, No. 31 and his wife stood in the factory that owned them with their aching hands in ice water. They ripped the guts, heads, tails and shells off shrimp bound for overseas markets, including grocery stores and all-you-can-eat buffets across the United States.

rt: Two fishing trawlers load slave-caught fish ontothe Silver Sea 2, center, a refrigerated cargo ship belonging to the Thai-owned Silver Sea Fishery Co. Satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe. AP Photo

Over the course of 18 months, Associated Press journalists located men held in cages, tracked ships and stalked refrigerated trucks to expose the abusive practices of the fishing industry in Southeast Asia. The reporters’ dogged effort led to the release of more than 2,000 slaves and traced the seafood they caught to supermarkets and pet food providers across the U.S.

The articles are presented here in their entirety.


“On January 12th 1922, HMS Victory was brought into No. 2 dock at Portsmouth, the oldest drydock in the world. This is a family photo that we have recently discovered in a long-forgotten tin box of the team of divers involved. Joseph Boyett (left-hand diver), a shipwright at Portsmouth dockyard, was one of the team involved. Posted by Robert and Dick Boyett – Joseph is our great grandfather/grand father.” 

HMS Victory on Facebook

Two of the largest atomic submarines in the world “Arhangelsk” and “Severstal” would be torn apart and scraped for metal in the near future – EnglishRussia

“Red October” Headed for the Breakers

Typhoon-class submarines (the subject of Tom Clancy novel The Hunt for Red October and its 1990 movie adaptation starring Sean Connery,) 830 TK 17 (Arkhangelsk) and TK 20 (Severstal) have been deemed obsolete and are headed for the scrap yard. Click through to ER to see and/or download wallpaper-sized images.

The Hunt for Red October AudioBook by Tom Clancy

“The dopest map collection on earth” –WIRED

Download 67,000 Historic Maps (in High Resolution) from the Wonderful David Rumsey Map Collection

Atlas-NovusFive centuries of cartography free to anyone with an internet connection; 67,000 maps from all over the globe. Each contain detailed publication information, the ability to zoom in and examine the tiniest details, and an “export” function allowing users to download a variety of resolutions up to 12288 pixels.

In addition to the maps themselves—most works of art in their own right—the database is full of other beautiful images related to geography, such as the fabulous, full-color title page (right) for the 1730 Atlas Novus sive Tabulae Geographicae  by Matthaeus Seutter.

keep reading on Open Culture


Jan. 1846: steam paddle sloop HMS DRIVER enters Port Jackson on historic voyage

Designed by the Royal Navy Surveyor Sir William Symonds and built at Portsmouth in 1840, DRIVER’s first years were spent on the East Indies and China Station, where she was engaged in suppressing piracy. Her circumnavigation was completed on May 14, 1847 when she finally returned to Portsmouth.

more about HMS Driver on wikipedia


World’s Oldest Message in a Bottle Found After 108 Years at Sea

It was one of about a thousand bottles thrown into the North Sea in 1906 as part of a research project carried out by a marine biologist, George Parker Bidder, president of the U.K.’s Marine Biological Association for six years from 1939 until 1945.

Retired German postal worker Marianne Winkler discovered the long-lost item during a holiday to the German island of Amrum on the North Sea coast.  MORE

The previous record was held by a 99 years and 43 days old bottle found in Shetland in 2013, according to the Guardian. – more on IBT

bickford casco bay maine STRAIGHT
Bridget McAllister in Portland Harbor; Casco Bay, Maine – 2013 photo by Mark Bickford.
Click image to see full size – side viewdistant view

Benjamin Moll – “Ex Foss Boston boat, she’s in Baltimore now. She’s a pretty awesome tug, one of my favorites.”

Capt. Karl Guðmundsson looks out from an Eimskip container ship as it sails across the Atlantic Ocean on a nine-day trip from Maine. Photo by Justin Levesque

Portland photographer wants to open gallery inside shipping container

Justin Levesque, 29, is seeking city permission for a temporary art installation in Congress Square in late September and early October that will coincide with the international Arctic Council conference in Portland. The container-gallery would feature Levesque’s photographs of the Portland waterfront and the international workers  read on Portland Press Herald

University of Southern Maine alumnus Justin Levesque has been invited to participate in The Arctic Circle 2017; an art and science expedition to the High Arctic.

He will spend more than two weeks aboard a tall ship in the international territory of Svalbard, just 10 degrees from the North Pole. “I left the container ship residency back in Oct. 2015 feeling incomplete knowing I’d only scratched the surface in the enormous and deeply complicated world of shipping, ships and life at sea,” explained Levesque.  more

Maine Artists Travel By Container Ship to Iceland From Portland

click to see full size
click to see full size

Looking down Portland wharves, probably Custom House Wharf to left and Portland Pier to right, c 1910 – Portland, Maine History; 1786 To Present

Tall ship Elissa: Galveston, Texas – Built in 1877, Elissa is billed as one of the longest continuously sailed ships in the country, if not the world. At full speed, Elissa unfurls 19 sails – Photo: CNN

Old Salt Blog: Recreating 17th Century Sailor’s Grub on the Tall Ship Elissa

What we know of the diet of 17th-century sailors comes from written records — log entries, diaries, and journals. Most accounts say that it was pretty bad.

Now, Grace Tsai, a Ph.D. student specializing in nautical archaeology at Texas A&M University, wants to investigate sailor’s grub, by recreating the food as accurately as possible. keep reading

chow half

Also on Old Salt:

The Naval Historical Foundation has a new blog titled CHOW which explores the history behind U.S. Navy culinary traditions…more

 sea also: Food at sea in the age of fighting sail on BritishFoodinAmerica

Battle of Jutland animation; click image to view on HeritageDaily
click image to view on HeritageDaily

A full account of the Battle of Jutland narrated by Admiral Jellicoe’s grandson as part of the Jutland Centenary Commemoration


Rare Megamouth Shark Caught in Japanese Fishing Net


Mysterious Wreck of 145 year old submarine surfaces every day at low tide

VintageNews – While on a ship passing San Telmo Island in Pearl Archipelago, Panama, archeologist and diver Jim Delgado found something magnificent. The submarine’s rusting hull was well-known to locals, but they had presumed it to be a remnant of World War II. Jim just HAD to go back and investigate.

What he did not anticipate was that the submarine was not Japanese, as the stories relate.  Nor was it a submarine from WWII – it was much older. keep reading

Norway Today: Viking ship DRAKEN HARALD HÅRFAGRE

The world’s largest Viking ship will sail to America from Norway on Sunday


This cargo ship went down in 1681 loaded with crates of swords, nails, & bolts of cloth

 The wreck identified as Nuestra Señora de Encarnación, along with the tools and weapons found aboard the ship, has been well-preserved for more than 330 years. Encarnación was a Mexican-built Spanish merchant vessel in the Tierra Firme fleet that supplied Spanish colonies in the Americas. In 1681, a storm sunk the loaded ship at the mouth of the Charges River in Panama.

Scientists are thrilled with the find as it will help them understand the ship-building technology of the fifteenth century. According to Fritz Hanselmann, who is an archaeologist with the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, “Ships that were built hundreds of years ago didn’t come with blueprints.”

keep reading on VintageNews


New York’s Newest Urban Farm Floats

A barge bursting with vegetables takes to the water this summer

It’s called Swale, and it’s as much an art installation as it is a legit farm. The barge is a collaboration between 18 farming, arts and urban revitalization organizations and a whole slew of artists and educators dedicated to turning New York’s often-overlooked water resources into something that literally and figuratively feeds the community. Everyone from high school students to the U.S. Coast Guard are involved in the project. 

The barge will float through various New York locations all summer and invite visitors to come aboard its 80-foot-by-30-foot platform. Decorative plants will mingle with everything from beets to asparagus to kale and chard. Decorative plants will mingle with everything from beets to asparagus to kale and chard. Young writes that visitors will be able to pick their own free food aboard the barge, which is irrigated with water straight from the harbor. Visitors will be able to pick their own free food aboard the barge, which is irrigated with water straight from the harbor.  MORE


Art, mon… The Explosion of the Spanish Flagship during the Battle of Gibraltar (ca. 1621)

Public Domain Review – Depicting what was probably the most decisive moment of the Battle of Gibraltar, this remarkable painting by Dutch artist Cornelius Claesz van Wieringen, is also an extraordinary attempt to capture the gruesome realities of an explosion. Figures are shown flung through the air from the force of the blast, some severed in two — a torso here, a pair of legs there — and the choppy seas are strewn with blood and bodies. go looky

Seafarers: Watch Out for Journalists and Pirates

silenceMaritime Executive: The Norwegian Hull Club has issued a warning to seafarers about how journalists and pirates might (be using) their social media postings.

They cite the use of a Facebook post made by a crew member on board one of its members’ offshore units. The unit was in distress and being evacuated: “We are currently awaiting helicopter evacuation away from this unit – anchor chains punctured one of the legs in the heavy weather tonight. Home, sweet home!”

In another case, a master was informed by his company that one of their vessels was hijacked. On his open Facebook profile, he discussed detailed information about the hijacked crew members on board with another colleague. keep reading

image right by McClelland Barclay

Harpooned whale hoisted above a ship

Museum Exhibit Explores Forgotten Figures from Island’s Whaling Past

scrimshawIn 1850 on the Vineyard, 686 males listed their occupation as “mariner” compared to 342 farmers on the census. It is possible the Vineyard had more whaling masters per capita than any other place in the world, according to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.

During the mid-1800s the Vineyard was populated by women who took charge in a time when they weren’t often offered the reins. A young woman named Virginia Luce married a whaling captain when she was 19. Though her house was decorated with fineries brought from around the world, she spent most of her life apart from her husband.

Along with stories about individuals, the exhibit showcases the jaw bone of a juvenile sperm whale next to a collection of scrimshaw. Bottles of whale oil are lined up from crude to refined, each carefully hand labeled. “It’s misconception that whaling was just guys getting dirty and making money, this goes against that,” said assistant curator Anna Carringer.  more

In the Giant’s Shadow: Whaling and Martha’s Vineyard opens on Friday, April 22 with a reception from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free to members; admission for non-members is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children 6 to 12 and free for children under the age of 6. For more information visit

Book Review: The North Water —a novel by Ian McGuire

northwaterThe North Water —a debut novel by Ian McGuire — is an adventure tale about survival at the frozen top of the world. It opens in 1859 when a young man named Patrick Sumner signs on as ship’s doctor to a whaler named The Volunteer.

Once The Volunteer sets sail, Sumner realizes his assumption that, as ship’s doctor, he’ll enjoy plenty of downtime to read his beloved Homer is naive. As soon as the first seal pack is sighted, Sumner is shoved out on the ice with the rest of the crew to shoot and club seals and to try not to fall into the black waters that swirl around the moving ice floes.

full story

whaling factory ship in Sandefjord, Norway, by Leif Skandsen
whaling factory ship in Sandefjord, Norway, by Leif Skandsen
Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge

Sir James Clark Ross (15 April 1800 – 3 April 1862) was a British naval officer and explorer remembered today for his exploration of the Arctic. 

Ross took part in four Arctic expeditions under Sir William Parry, and in 1829 to 1833, again served under his uncle on Sir John’s second Arctic voyage. It was during this trip that they located the position of the North Magnetic Pole on 1 June 1831 on the Boothia Peninsula in the far north of Canada. more

Sandefjord the city is known for its rich Viking history and the prosperous whaling industry, which made it the richest city in Norway.

The first whaling expedition from Sandefjord to the Antarctic Ocean went forth in 1905. By the end of the 1920s, Sandefjord had a fleet of 15 factory ships and more than 90 whalers. In 1954, more than 2,800 men from the district were listed as hired crew on the whalers. From the mid-1950s onward, whaling was gradually reduced. The number of southbound expeditions rapidly decreased during the 1960s, and the 1967/68 season was the last for Sandefjord. more


Model of ship Sir James Clark Ross (1930)

DC Comics History: Captain Compass


 Captain Compass, the nautical detective, debuted during the period 1948 – 1951. Largely a detective strip, Mark Compass is the trouble-shooter on the SS Nautilus, a passenger liner. 

We learn that the Nautilus is just part of the larger Penny Steamship lines, which runs both cargo and passenger ships. In one story, Mark has to head off on the Maru, a freighter heading to a volcanic island where a group of prisoners sent to the island, have gotten free of their chains.

See panels from Captain Compass

Postal Stamp Celebrates Maritime History


MarineLink.comThe U.S. Postal Service has previewed a new stamp highlighting California’s San Francisco Maritime Historical Park with a photograph of an iconic three-masted sailing ship, square-rigger Balclutha.

Balclutha, also known as Star of Alaska, Pacific Queen, or Sailing Ship Balclutha, is a steel-hulled full rigged ship that was built in 1886. She is the only square rigged ship left in the San Francisco Bay area and is representative of several different commercial ventures, including lumber, salmon, and grain. She is a U.S. National Historic Landmark and is currently preserved at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in San Francisco, California.  more on wikipedia


Enger Tower is an 80-foot (24 m), five-story blue stone observation tower atop Enger Hill in Duluth, Minnesota.  It stands at an elevation of 531 feet (162 m) above Lake Superior, providing panoramic views of the Twin Ports.  Shown here lit in purple to honor Minnesotan Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016) 

Photo by Glenn Blaszkiewicz


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