Maritime Monday for May 30th, 2016: Stella Maris

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May 29, 2016

Fleet Week NYC; Liberty State Park U.S. Coast Guard New York City click image to see full size
Robe Town Brewery’s Maris and Kristi Biezaitis sample their unique ambergris ale (ABC)

Australian Brewery Flavors Beer With Rare Whale Secretion

In the craft beer world, where attention-grabbing names and quirky ingredients are king, a unique seafaring ingredient is proving a winner for a South Australian coastal brewer.

chunks of ambergris being prepared for tincture; Robe Town Brewery

Inspired by friends who discovered a 400-gram lump of ambergris on a beach near Robe some years ago, Robe brewers Maris and Kristi Biezaitis said they toyed with using some to add special zing to a brew.

“When I heard that ambergris was used in the perfume industry, I thought ‘I wonder if that could be used to flavour or spice up a beer. It was a relatively fresh piece, quite a smelly piece, so it was airing and curing in the backyard before I got hold of it.”

After extracting the perfume from the ambergris by soaking small sections in alcohol, the musky tincture was added to the amber ale at bottling time. +

Smithsonian: Merchant Marine Were Unsung Heroes of World War II

The U-boat war was particularly unforgiving to merchant mariners. The Merchant Marine suffered a higher casualty rate than any branch of the military, losing 9,300 men, with most of the losses occurring in 1942, when most merchant ships sailed U.S. waters with little or no protection from the U.S. Navy. In March 1942 alone, 27 ships from six Allied nations were sunk off U.S. shores.

You BetStatistically, America’s coastal waters were the most dangerous, the scene of half the world’s sinkings. The experience of being torpedoed was so common that the president of the Boston Seaman’s Club founded a “40-Fathom Club” for those who had survived it. “I hope the membership won’t become too large,” he added, but it grew larger day after day as rescue ships brought oil-soaked survivors to the docks at Halifax, Boston, New York, Norfolk, Morehead City, Miami, and even Havana.

Many of the mariners who survived torpedo attacks turned around and went right back to sea, sailing through the same perilous waters, only to get torpedoed again. One mariner survived it ten times.

Most of the mariners who sailed against the U-boats are gone now. The few thousand who remain have come to regard Memorial Day as a celebration that has never fully included them. It’s not too late to remember, belatedly, how much we owe them. (full story)


‘Master and Commander’: Russell Crowe Wants a Sequel Too

Production is officially underway on Christopher Nolan’s next film, the World War II-based Dunkirk, which chronicles the evacuation of the city during the British military operation that saved 330,000 lives as Allied soldiers were surrounded by German forces.

 The Warner Bros. picture is officially described as an “action-thriller” and Nolan is shooting the whole thing on a combination of IMAX 65mm and 65mm large-format photography. So, essentially, hold on to your butts. Dunkirk comes to theaters in July, 2017. +

Cap Arcona in 1927; more on wikipedia

For almost 39 years, parts of skeletons were being washed ashore

SS Cap Arcona was carrying concentration camp inmates when the Royal Air Force sank her, killing almost 5,000 people.

Cap Arcona in flames; 3 May 1945 (Der Spiegel)

For weeks after the sinking, bodies of the victims were being washed ashore, where they were collected and buried in a single mass grave. For nearly thirty years, parts of skeletons would be washed ashore; until the last find, by a twelve-year-old boy in 1971. +

interior of the Cap Arcona (full size) – (image 2) – (image 3) – (image 4)

The Cap Arcona was built in the image of the White Star Line’s infamous Titanic and launched on May 14, 1927. It served the Hamburg-South America line for 13 years, carrying celebrities like Clark Gable and various dignitaries to places like Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aries.

The Cap Arcona was used to film a German version of “Titanic.” The project was assigned to Joseph Goebbels, head of the Ministry for “Propaganda and Public Enlightenment,” who turned the story of the Titanic into a statement against Britain and the excesses of capitalism. +

more: The 1945 Sinkings of the Cap Arcona and the Thielbek

USS Wolverine (IX-64) was built as the Great Lakes side-wheel steamer Seeandbee launched 9 November 1912 that was converted into a freshwater aircraft carrier of the United States Navy in 1942 for advanced training of naval aviators in carrier take-offs and landings – click image to see full size

‘Heroes on Deck’ dives into WWII naval pilots’ training in Chicago

Cleveland_and_Buffalo_Transit_Co_Ad_1920Chicago Tribune – “Heroes on Deck,” the new documentary about the surprisingly elaborate World War II naval training operations on Lake Michigan, got its start in the fact that the film’s heroes often did not land on deck.

Framing this story of a little-known chapter of local military history is the recovery from the bottom of Lake Michigan of three vintage airplanes, mollusk-covered, rusty, sometimes in pieces and yet headed for restoration all the same.

Those are just a few of the scores of naval aircraft that sunk to the lake bed during the time when Chicago’s great lake was used to train pilots to take off from and land on aircraft carriers.

Cleveland and Buffalo Steamboat Line steamboat SeeandBee dated August 1919; later converted to a training aircraft carrier, USS Wolverine (IX-64), for pilot training on the Great Lakes during World War II.  full size – and – after conversion

In 1987, John Davies, then a producer at WTTW-Ch. 11, the leading Chicago PBS affiliate, met a guy at a bar “who told me there were over 100 WWII aircraft sitting on the bottom of Lake Michigan,” Davies explained via email. “I looked into his claim and he was right. I knew I had found a great Chicago story that would also satisfy my two main interests, aviation and WWII.”  keep reading

Doug Duncan, AoS Northeast Scotland port chaplain

The Apostleship of the Sea UK: A Ministry of Mercy

“All too frequently, we come across instances of a crew being abandoned or not having been paid, or having to face difficult conditions on board – whether that be through inadequate meals, or inadequate hygiene/washing facilities. We are a mission of the (Catholic) Church; we have been sent by the Church to share God’s love with seafarers. And that’s not just Catholic seafarers; it’s all seafarers and to assure them that though they are far from home, family and friends, that the Church, through the Apostleship of the Sea, is here for them.” Listen to an interview with Martin Foley who tells us more about the initiative on Vatican Radio

Apostleship of the Sea UKUSA — Apostleship of the Sea on Wikipedia

TSS Duke of Lancaster landlocked near Mostyn, North Wales (wikipedia)

The Duke of Lancaster Fun Ship

funshiphalfvia New England Pinball: Built in Belfast, the Duke of Lancaster operated as a passenger ferry and cruise liner between 1956 and 1979, winding its way across the seas from Ireland, Scotland and throughout Europe. Indeed she was one of the last passenger “steamers” built to operate for British Rail’s shipping interests.

Built at Harland & Wolff, Belfast and completed in 1956, she was designed to operate as both a passenger ferry (primarily on the Heysham-Belfast route) and as a cruise ship.

The Duke of Lancaster travelled to the Scottish islands and further afield to Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway and Spain. + Her last voyage was in 1978, and within a year, the Duke was sold to a Liverpool based company, whose intention was to reopen its doors as a dry docked leisure centre attraction.

World Ship Wrecks; more photos

With plans in place for a hotel conversion (which never materialised), and kitted out with various attractions, including an arcade covering the whole of the car deck, the Fun Ship quickly became a popular tourist attraction, creating jobs and bringing wealth to the local area. Unfortunately, the fun didn’t last very long… keep reading

more: BBC video Duke of Lancaster: Street art murals on beached ship

A torpedo is loaded on to the HMS P311. (Photo: Ministry of Information/Public Domain)

They Found a WWII-Era Submarine With Bodies in It Off the Coast of Sardinia

“Wrecks are only raised if there are extremely compelling historical or operational reasons to do so,” a spokesperson for the Royal Navy said. “Once a military vessel sinks it becomes a war grave and is left where it lies.”

Lost with all hands between 30 December 1942 and 8 January 1943 whilst en route to La Maddalena, Sardinia where she was to attack two Italian 8-inch gun cruisers using Chariot human torpedoes. +

cockpit of an Italian Navy Maiale human torpedo
Inaugurating the first commercial Trans-Pacific air service, Pan American Airways China Clipper arrives in Manila, Philippines, amid much celebration on 29 November, 1935 – see also – Negative from the collection of Steve Given

After taking off from Alameda, California, the four-engine flying boat reached Manila after stop-offs in Honolulu, Midway Island, Wake Island, and Guam, delivering over 110,000 pieces of mail.

The China Clipper remained in Pan Am service until January 8, 1945, when it was destroyed in a crash in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. On the second approach to land it came down too low and hit the water at a high speed and nose down a mile-and-a-quarter short of its intended landing area. The impact broke the hull in two which quickly flooded and sank. Twenty three passengers and crew were killed. (from)

US and Philippine Islands (as US Commonwealth) Air Mail stamps issued for the first commercial Transpacific flights Westbound (US-PI) and Eastbound (PI-US) between San Francisco, CA (Alameda) and Manila, PI, November 22 – December 6, 1935 (from)
Three North Atlantic right whale tails break the surface in Cape Cod Bay near Provincetown, Massachusetts. Stephan Savoia/AP; The Guardian

Whale-finding phone app grows in use, helps mariners steer clear

With summer whale watching season fast approaching, conservation advocates and government agencies who want to protect whales say a mobile app designed to help mariners steer clear of the animals is helping keep them alive.

The Whale Alert app provides a real-time display of the ocean and the position of the mariner’s ship, along with information about where whales have been seen or heard recently. It also provides information on speed restrictions and restricted areas, and recommends routes shippers can take to avoid endangered species such as the blue whale and the North Atlantic right whale. Associated Press

Cape Cod is seeing a lot more of some singularly welcome tourists: endangered right whales enticed by the fine dining possibilities of its plankton-rich bay. Experts tracking the creatures, which are some of the rarest on the planet, say nearly half the estimated global population of 500 or so animals has been spotted in Cape Cod Bay over the past few springs. They are back this year in what looks like record numbers. The Guardian

Return of the lamprey – ancient, ugly and swimming up British rivers

full size

PAUL WOLFF (German, 1887-1951)
View from the Hindenburg: Engine and Ship; From the series: The First Trip of the Zeppelin Hindenburg to Rio de Janeiro, circa 1936
Vintage gelatin silver print

The Hindenburg and its sister ship, the LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin II (launched in September 1938), were the only two airships ever purpose-built for regular commercial transatlantic passenger operations, although the latter never entered passenger service before being scrapped in 1940.

Flying Down To Rio

The Hindenburg made 17 round trips across the Atlantic in 1936—its first and only full year of service—with ten trips to the United States and seven to Brazil. The first passenger trip across the North Atlantic left Frankfurt on 6 May with 56 crew and 50 passengers. Westward trips that season took 53 to 78 hours and eastward took 43 to 61 hours.

In July 1936 it completed a record Atlantic double crossing in five days, 19 hours and 51 minutes. Among the famous passengers was German heavyweight boxing champion Max Schmeling, who returned home on the Hindenburg to a hero’s welcome after knocking out Joe Louis in New York on June 19, 1936.

The airship was said to be so stable that a pen or pencil could be balanced on end atop a tablet without falling. Its launches were so smooth that passengers often missed them, believing that the airship was still docked to its mooring mast. A one way fare between Germany and the United States was US$400 (equivalent to US$6,800 in 2015 using CPI inflation). +


Cat Wearing a Tiny Captain’s Outfit is the Cutest Sailor Onboard a Russian Cruise Ship

Since 2008, a Persian cat named Sailor has been aboard a Russian tourist ship that cruises between Moscow and St. Petersburg. He earns his keep by “working” with captain Vladimir Kotin and even has a uniform to prove it. Sailor dons a tiny decorated suit and hat while he keeps close watch on the captain’s bridge every night from midnight to 4AM. –mymodernmet

Noc (in 1995) strongly “wanted to make a connection,” says former naval trainer Michelle Jeffries. “I think that was part of the thing behind him mimicking speech.” (US Navy)

Smithsonian: The Story of One Whale Who Tried to Bridge the Linguistic Divide Between Animals and Humans

While captive in a Navy program, a beluga whale named Noc began to mimic human speech. What was behind his attempt to talk to us?

Mine-detecting dolphin; Persian Gulf. Photo Brien Aho/US Navy

“When the Navy contacted me and said we’re going to start doing some stuff up in the Arctic, our program decided, well, we’ll get belugas. They spend most of their lives in those conditions. We’d done similar work with dolphins for years, so we kind of figured belugas would be comparable.” said Sam Ridgway, a Texas-born veterinarian and a co-founder of Navy Marine Mammal Program.

Six belugas were caught between 1977 and 1980. Among them was the 2-year-old male calf named Noc, (No-See; after the tiny biting summer flies known as no-see-ums). The youngest of the Cold Op’s recruits, Noc lived virtually his entire life in captivity, working side by side with human trainers.

Speak the speech I pray you, as I pronounced it to you...
Speak the speech I pray you,
as I pronounced it to you…

Ridgway said he didn’t remember there being anything particularly strange or different about Noc over the course of the first seven years preceding his sudden speech episodes.

“Noc was the kid who was willing to try. I think that was part of the thing behind him mimicking speech. He liked watching people. He liked being around people. The connection. He wanted to make a connection. I think that was his thing. He liked the interface.”

video: NOC Beluga Whale Mimicking Human Speech

He ended up being deployed for two top-secret Navy surveillance and retrieval programs before succumbing to meningitis in 1999 at the age of 23 while still in the Navy’s care.

full story

Brushing the teeth of a bottlenose dolphin in the well deck aboard the USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44).

Since the early 1960s the United States had been deploying marine mammals, beginning with dolphins, for tasks including mine detection and recovery of test torpedoes. By the mid-1970s, the locus of the naval cold war had shifted to the Arctic, where the latest Soviet submarines were secreting themselves under the ice cap, an environment off-limits to animals including dolphins and sea lions used in the NMMP. Experiments began on weaponry that could function in such extreme conditions. The Navy needed marine mammals with built-in sonar, capable of locating and retrieving sunken experimental torpedoes in the frigid waters and low visibility of the Arctic.

The program will come to a close beginning in 2017, when the mammals will be replaced by robotic mine-hunters such as the General Dynamics Knifefish.

New York Harbor – 05/26/2016 Today was a busy morning on the eastern end of the Kill van Kull. Before the sun had risen above the horizon, Moran’s JONATHAN C. MORAN (on an escort assignment) seen passing the docked FREEPORT and barge with Vane’s RED HOOK in pursuit. Photo by Randall Farhy (Tugboat Graffiti); on Tug Boating Facebook group – click image to see full size
La Laitière (1889)

Albert Gustaf Aristides Edelfelt; (21 July 1854 – 18 August 1905) Finnish painter

see also: Copenhagen; 1890At Sea; 1883Girls in the Boat; 1881

A sponge the size of a minivan, the largest on record, was found in during a deep-sea expedition in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off Hawaii / NOAA

Sea sponge the size of a minivan discovered in ocean depths off Hawaii

The creature was discovered about 2,100m (7,000ft) down, in a marine conservation area between north-western Hawaii and Midway. The area is largely unexplored, Wagner said, and “over 98% of the area of this monument is below 100m, so below something that we would ever be able to dive through with scuba diving”. –The Guardian (video)

According to the study published in Marine Biodiversity, it was discovered in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands during an expedition of the Okeanos Explorer — the “only federally funded U.S. ship assigned to systematically explore our largely unknown ocean for the purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge.” –NPR


HD Images and videos from the Okeanos Explorer; NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas

1930 Thornycroft ad

Sir John Isaac Thornycroft (1843–1928) was a British shipbuilder, the founder of the Thornycroft shipbuilding company. The boatbuilding works concentrated on cabin cruisers and speedboats, but also produced small naval craft – Coastal Motor Boats in the First World War and Motor Torpedo Boats, Motor Launches and landing craft in the Second World War.

Thornycroft had shown shipbuilding ability when aged 16 he built a small steam launch in 1859 in his father’s back garden. He completed a shipbuilding apprenticeship in Glasgow in 1864 and founded the Thornycroft shipbuilding company at Church Wharf, Chiswick in 1866.

There, he built the first prototype of what would go on to become the torpedo boat, the Rap for Norway in 1873. This was followed by HMS Lightning for the Royal Navy in 1877. The first ship built by Thornycrofts for the Royal Navy at the newly acquired Woolston, Southampton shipyard was the Tribal-class destroyer HMS Tartar launched in 1907.

HMS Daring built in 1893; one of the first torpedo boats specifically designed to protect battleships. The Daring was in service until 1912 – more
1921 Thornycroft motor yacht Syrene I

The firm continued also built civilian vessels. Hampton Launch Works built yachts including Enola (1928), Estrellita (1934) (now called Rake’s Retreat), Aberdonia (1935), and Moonyeen (1937). These four have survived and are now recorded on National Historic Ships’ National Register.

thorny dunkirk
Thornycroft motor yacht Bluebird; built 1031. One of the Dunkirk Little Ships – (full size)

Thornycroft worked on means of aiding hull lubrication by air which also led him to the hydrofoil. This led him to develop stepped chine hulls which used for 55 ft British Coastal Motor Boats during the war gave them speeds of up to 40 knots.

John I. Thornycroft & Co., LTD, Woolston and Southampton (full size)
Photo: Christoph Gerigk

British Museum is to stage a major exhibition on two lost Egyptian cities and their recent rediscovery by archaeologists

Opening in May 2016 for an extended run of six months, The BP exhibition Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds will be the Museum’s first large-scale exhibition of underwater discoveries. It will show how the exploration of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus – submerged at the mouth of the River Nile for over a thousand years. 300 outstanding objects will be brought together for the exhibition including more than 200 spectacular finds excavated off the coast of Egypt near Alexandria between 1996 and 2012.

Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds; 19 May – 27 November 2016 at the British Museum

Cringeworthy Soviet Accident Prevention Posters

Ventilation is your friend. It should always be on.

Ferry Nuraghes in Genoa harbor (PhillMono)

Genoa, Italy to Porto Torres, Sardinia route; operated by Tirrenia Compagnia Italiana di Navigazione. Built 2004 by Fincantieri. 39.780 GT; 3000 passengers; 214 m long; top speed 29 kn (54 km/h; 33 mph) – Original (5172 x 3388)

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Adventures of the Blackgang

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