Archive for the 'Commemorations' Category

Apr 15

The Titanic Disaster

Sunday, April 15, 2012 7:26 PM

April 15th, 1912

The sinking of the S. S. Titanic

April 15th, 2012, marks the one-hundred year anniversary of the sinking of the “unsinkable” S. S. Titanic after a collision with an iceberg. The tragedy of the Titanic was not that such a large and well-built ship sank on her first and only voyage, but that she lacked sufficient life-saving equipment, which resulted in the unnecessary loss of many lives. In observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the Titanic disaster, the April 1962 issue of Proceedings contained an article, written by John Carroll Carrothers, which detailed the Titanic‘s brief history, from the beginning of her first voyage to her final moments. Carrothers’ article, reprinted below, noted the many factors which could have prevented the loss of so many lives, and perhaps even the sinking of the ship.

The 50th anniversary of the world’s greatest and most tragic peacetime disaster at sea—the sinking of the S.S. Titanic on her maiden voyage—will be observed on 15 April 1962. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 4

The Establishment of NATO

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 1:00 AM

April 4th, 1949

NATO is established

 

In the wake of World War II, and at the beginnings of the Cold War, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded between the United States, Canada, and a large number of European nations. Ten years after the establishment of NATO, Proceedings published an article by Admiral W. F. Boone, USN, in its April 1959 issue. The article focused on the objectives of NATO as well as the acheivements and challenges encountered during the first ten years of its existence. Though establishing such an international union, especially in a time of peace, proved to be challenging for every member, the article, excerpted below, demonstrates that NATO, overall, has proven to be a success in preventing another global war.

NATO is the keystone of the supporting arch of United States foreign policy. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 3

Port Royal Week on the CWN 150 Blog

Thursday, November 3, 2011 3:11 PM

This week, the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial is celebration the commemoration of the Port Royal Expedition. The expedition, which entered the sound on 3 November 1861, was the largest assemblage of ships (77) by the U.S. Navy at that point. The battle was an overwhelming victory for the Union, as well as a testament to combined Army/Navy operations that would subsist for the remainder of the war. 

CWN 150 bloggers are focusing their attention on the battle this week HERE.

The blog will show the most up to date information. There are now several posts about the history of the event, anecdotes and profiles of pivital figures involved, and special programs offered for the sesquicentennial anniversary in South Carolina. Port Royal blog posts will appear until 7 November. 

The following is the list of current Port Royal Blog posts at the Civil War Navy 150 blog (in order of most recent): 

Brother Against Brother at Port Royal

Storms off the South Carolina Coast

Navy Leadership at Port Royal

Port Royal Week for CWN 150 Bloggers

The Port Royal Expedition and the NY Times

The 1861 “Expedition Hurricane” and Port Royal

 
Oct 17

Innovative Scientific Analysis Tool at Underwater Archaeology Conservation Lab

Monday, October 17, 2011 1:54 PM

Dr. Raymond Hayes (left) and Head Conservator George Schwarz examine p-XRF data taken from a Civil War-era Aston pistol recovered from USS HOUSATONIC at the Underwater Archaeology & Conservation Laboratory.

NHHC volunteer, Dr. Raymond Hayes, Professor Emeritus at Howard University, Washington DC, and Woods Hole Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA, has partnered with the Underwater Archaeology & Conservation Laboratory (UACL) to analyze archaeological materials from historic naval shipwrecks.

Dr. Hayes has been awarded a Research & Discovery Grant from Olympus INNOV-X to examine archaeological components from shipwrecks using an innovative Delta portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) unit. This state-of-the-art technology uses an x-ray beam to identify the specific elements present within archaeological material. Dr. Hayes’ research endeavors to use this data to trace the elemental composition of a wood sample back to original construction materials, marine sediments, and sealing or fastening materials applied to wooden ships. Included in the study are data from USS Housatonic, USS Tulip, and CSS Alabama, as well as recently recovered artifacts from the 2011 USS Scorpion field project, the archaeological investigation of a Patuxent River shipwreck believed to be the flagship of the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla, which fought to defend Washington D.C. from the British during the War of 1812. As part of the Navy’s commemoration of the Flotilla’s important role in the War of 1812, a full excavation of the USS Scorpion site is anticipated.

Scientific technologies like pXRF provide archaeologists and conservators valuable chemical information that can be used to better conserve and interpret submerged cultural heritage. An innovative feature of pXRF devices is that they can be used in both the laboratory and the field to analyze artifacts recovered from wet environments. Artifacts from underwater sites can be difficult to initially identify as they may be encased within thick concretions or obscured by unidentifiable corrosion products, however, pXRF data can give archaeologists data which can signal the presence of an artifact. 

Detail of portable X-Ray Fluorescence machine collecting data from Civil War-era pistol.

Following recovery from underwater archaeological sites, artifacts are particularly susceptible to damage caused by soluble salts (e.g., chlorides) accumulated from the water or sediment that surrounded them for decades or even centuries. If allowed to crystallize, the salts expand and cause catastrophic damage which may result in complete destruction of the artifact. Data from pXRF can determine the concentration of chlorine within an artifact to help conservators understand the degree of salt contamination and mitigate it properly. During conservation, pXRF can help conservators develop the most optimal treatment plan for artifacts and reveal the presence of toxic components, such as lead, cadmium or arsenic. Comparative data may also reveal similarities or differences in artifact composition that could suggest age and geographic origins.

This is only one part of the extensive research that goes on at the Underwater Archaeology & Conservation Lab, where over 2300 artifacts recovered from US Navy shipwrecks and aircraft wrecks are curated, 140 of which are currently undergoing active conservation treatment. The Laboratory, located in BL 46 of WNYD, also hosts public tours showcasing important artifacts that span from the American Revolution to World War II and make the Navy’s history come alive! Please feel free to contact us anytime (202.433.9731) if you’d like to visit!

 For more information about the NHHC Underwater Archaeology Branch and the Underwater Archaeology & Conservation Laboratory, please visit http://www.history.navy.mil/underwater.

 
Sep 25

Silver Anniversary of USS Enterprise (CVN-65) Commissioning

Sunday, September 25, 2011 1:00 AM

September 25th, 1961

Commissioning of USS Enterprise (CVN-65)

Fifty years ago USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was commissioned.  The biggest ship in the world at the time, Enterprise was certainly unique. However, as an article in the May 1961 issue of Proceedings noted, the name of such a unique ship was hardly new. Instead, Enterprise inherited in its name a rich Naval history with origins in the Revolutionary War and notable achievements in various Naval battles. The article, compiled from Navy Department releases, relates the unique & varied history of a name shared by eight different ships:

The first Enterprise was a 70-ton sloop which originally belonged to the British and cruised on Lake Champlain to supply their posts in Canada. After the capture of Fort Ticonderoga by the Americans on 10 May 1775, she became the object of desire in the mind of Benedict Arnold, who realized he would not have control of Lake Champlain until her capture. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 19

On the Hunt for Bonhomme Richard!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 3:39 PM

On July 17th, the NHHC Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) along with partners from Ocean Technology Foundation, Naval Oceanographic Office, SUPSALV, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MSDU) 2 and the US Naval Academy, set out to continue the search for one of the Navy’s first fighting vessels, Bonhomme Richard. Captained by the father of our Navy, John Paul Jones, the ship was lost in 1779 after engaging in combat with HMS Serapis off the Yorkshire coast of England. Although Jones emerged victorious, Bonhomme Richard was irreparably damaged. After transferring all men and supplies safely to the captured Serapis, Jones set the beleaguered U.S. frigate adrift to sink into the North Sea. Its final resting place has remained unknown ever since.

USNS Grasp as seen from one of its tenders while conducting AUV operations over four neighboring targets. Photo courtesy of Alexis Catsambis.

Over the next three weeks, the expedition will be conducted aboard Safeguard-class USNS Grasp. The team on deck will use survey data collected from remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) equipped with side-scan sonar and multibeam echosounder equipment to investigate targets of interest gathered from previous surveys. The side-scan sonar and multibeam echosounder relay data to create an image of the sea floor using sound waves; if a particular target looks promising, archaeologists will investigate it more closely and, if possible, deploy divers to take an even closer look.

Officer-in-Charge Ray Miller and midshipman Joseph Walter discuss the Swordfish AUV that is being prepared for the first launch of the mission. Photo courtesy of Alexis Catsambis.

Stay tuned for more updates from the field!

 
Jul 4

John Paul Jones Hoists First Stars and Stripes Flag 4 July 1777

Monday, July 4, 2011 12:01 AM

Standing at attention during the playing of The Star Spangled Banner, saluting the national ensign, and reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag” are all acts performed occasionally by most Americans and regularly by the men and women who wear the uniforms of the armed services. These acts have meaning because of the flag’s symbolic significance. The stars and stripes represent the nation’s independence, the sacrifices that established and have maintained our freedom, and our national values embodied in the Declaration of Independence. This is why the displaying of a large stars and stripes flag on a building opposite the site of the Twin Towers had such a powerfully emotional impact on 11 September 2001.

From the very beginnings of the United States, the flag has played a role in the careers of all naval personnel. Perhaps in no Sailor’s story, however, has the country’s flag figured more prominently than in that of the Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones. Jones is remembered for bringing America’s fight for liberty to the shores of the enemy—the Ranger’s capture of HMS Drake in the Irish Sea, the raid on Whitehaven, Scotland, and especially the Bonhomme Richard ’s capture of HMS Serapis in the Battle off Flamborough Head, within site of the English shore. As proud as he was of these accomplishments at the birth of the nation, John Paul Jones boasted as well of his association with the birth of the flag.

Even before the American colonies were independent or had adopted a national ensign to symbolize their rights as a free and equal people, John Paul Jones understood the power of a flag to embody the aspirations of a nation and to inspire loyalty. On 6 December 1775, as the Continental Navy ship Alfred’s newly commissioned first lieutenant, Jones hoisted the Grand Union flag of the thirteen united colonies. Recalling this event four years later, he wrote, “I hoisted with my own hands the flag of freedom the first time it was displayed on board the Alfred in the Delaware.”

On 4 July 1777, the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Captain John Paul Jones hoisted the stars and stripes flag on board his own command, the Continental Navy ship Ranger, then in Boston Harbor fitting out for a cruise against the enemies of the Scottish born Jones’s adopted country. Just a few weeks earlier, on 14 June 1777, meeting in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, the Continental Congress decreed the design for the new nation’s national ensign. Congress resolved “that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Later that same day, Congress appointed Jones commander of the Ranger, the ship in which he would make the enemy taste the bitter draft of war in their home waters.

On 14 February 1778, seven months after first hoisting the stars and stripes aboard Ranger, Jones exchanged salutes with a French fleet’s flagship in Quiberon Bay, France. On 6 February the French king had secretly signed treaties of commerce and of alliance with the United States. The exchange of salutes in Quiberon Bay was the first official public act of recognition of the flag of the United States as an independent nation by another sovereign country.

On this Fourth of July, aware of the place of the flag in the career and in the heart of John Paul Jones, one of the founders of the Navy’s proud heritage, we might consider what the flag means to us.

 
Jun 27

USS SCORPION Project: Phase II Begins!

Monday, June 27, 2011 9:41 AM

This bend of the Patuxent River near Upper Marlboro, MD (above) is where UAB archaeologists believe the remains of USS Scorpion, along with several other ships in the flotilla, have settled, virtually undisturbed for nearly 200 years.

 

After months of careful planning and preparation, the NHHC Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB), in conjunction with Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) and the Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA), initiated the second phase of the archaeological investigation of what is believed to be the wreck of USS Scorpion. Captained by US Navy hero Joshua Barney, Scorpion served as flagship in the famous Chesapeake Bay Flotilla, which endeavored to defend Washington, D.C. from the British during the War of 1812. On August 21st, 1814, British forces chased the Flotilla up a narrow bend of the Patuxent River where Barney then evacuated his men and ordered the ships scuttled to prevent their capture. The wreck site was discovered by Donald Shomette and Ralph Eshelman in the late 1970s and they conducted an archaeologial investigation in 1980.

UAB archaeologist uses a hydroprobe to determine the location of the wreck beneath the sediment.

 

Starting on June 13th, the UAB team, along with MHT and MSHA, successfully relocated the wreck using precise coordinates via a GPS system and completed an underwater mapping process called “hydroprobing” which helped archaeologists find the orientation and position of the wreck beneath approximately six feet of river sediment and debris. MHT also drilled several core samples near the site to conduct sediment and riverbed stratification analysis. The hydroprobe and core sample data gathered this year is essential for the plans to construct a coffer dam around the site for the third and final phase of the project during the War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemoration in 2012. The coffer dam will allow archaeologists to conduct a dry excavation of the wreck, and visitors to the site will be able to observe the process. This year, limited excavation of the site is expected to start soon after July 4th, so stay tuned for more USS Scorpion Project updates! 

 
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