Archive for the 'Heritage' Category

Oct 2

Washington Navy Yard: A Celebrated Legacy of Service to the Fleet

Thursday, October 2, 2014 2:15 PM

From Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division

The Washington Navy Yard was established 215 years ago today, Oct. 2, 1799, the Navy’s first and oldest shore base. At first it was built as a shipyard, under the careful guidance of its first commandant, Capt. Thomas Tingey. And then during the War of 1812 we famously burned it down (not the British) and then our neighbors looted it (again, not the British).

060701-N-ZZ999-111 WASHINGTON (July 2006) An aerial photograph taken in July 2006 of the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

060701-N-ZZ999-111 WASHINGTON (July 2006) An aerial photograph taken in July 2006 of the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

The base was back running again by 1816, although it never quite came back as a shipbuilding yard due to the shallowness of the Anacostia River. Its mission changed with the establishment of the Bureau of Ordnance at the Washington Navy Yard in the late 1880s and the building of a large gun factory. The yard then evolved into a place to test the most scientific, technologically advanced naval weaponry in the nation. By the end of World War II, when the yard was renamed the U.S. Naval Gun Factory in Dec. 1945, it had become the largest naval ordnance plant in the world, peaking at 188 buildings on 126 acres of landing and employing nearly 25,000 people.

But during the 1950s, as fewer weapons were needed, the Navy Yard began to phase out its ordnance factories. On July 1, 1964, the property was re-designated the Washington Navy Yard and unused factory buildings were converted to office use. The yard is now home to the Chief of Naval Operations (living in the same house as the yard’s original commandant) and is also headquarters for the Naval History and Heritage Command, the National Museum of the U.S. Navy and numerous other commands.

Just as captivating as the Yard’s transition from shipbuilding to ordnance technology to host of various command headquarters, are the hints of the macabre that lurk among the centuries-old brick and mortar of the Washington Navy Yard.

Which takes us back to Commodore Thomas Tingey. The plump commodore lovingly nurtured his navy yard through its first construction, then had suffer the horrible orders to burn it in August 1814 during the War of 1812. And he did, waiting until he could almost see the British before finally ordering it set ablaze. He returned the next day overjoyed to find the two housing quarters – A and B – unburned, along with the massive gate designed by Benjamin Latrobe.

Long-time superintendent of the Washington Navy Yard -- Commodore Thomas Tingey. His ghost has been rumored to haunt Quarters A, also known as the Tingey House. NHHC photo

Long-time superintendent of the Washington Navy Yard — Commodore Thomas Tingey. His ghost has been rumored to haunt Quarters A, also known as the Tingey House. NHHC photo

But after all that, Commandant Tingey got the Navy Yard back running again building ships by 1816. In 1829, Commandant Tingey, still running the place and living in his beloved Quarters A at the top of the hill, reported he was tired and wanted to work half days. He died five days later. He was so attached to the home he lived in for nearly 30 years that people have claimed to see a rotund apparition roaming the halls in his nightshirt while wearing his sword. In 1886, the shipyard changed direction to become the Naval Gun Factory, thanks to the technological advances by Capt. John A. Dahlgren. Rumor has it Tingey’s ghost gave out a loud cry at the indignity of it.

This plaque, on Bldg. 28 parking garage, explains why the leg of Col. Ulrich Dahlgren happened to be buried at the Washington Navy Yard. Alas, Col. Dahlgren soon followed his leg in the ground after he was killed in 1864 during a raid on Richmond.

This plaque, on Bldg. 28 parking garage, explains why the leg of Col. Ulrich Dahlgren happened to be buried at the Washington Navy Yard. Alas, Col. Dahlgren soon followed his leg in the ground after he was killed in 1864 during a raid on Richmond.

And speaking of the Civil War, Capt. Dahlgren served as the commandant of the base in 1861-62 and again in 1869-70. But it was Army Col. Ulrich Dahgren who would leave a lasting legacy: His leg. After the battle of Gettysburg, Col. Dahlgren had his leg amputated at the navy yard in 1863. It was buried amid new construction at the shipyard. He would lose the rest of him (minus an eye) when his men were ambushed in 1864 while attempting to take Richmond. Papers found on his body, thereafter called the “Dahlgren Papers,” outlined a planned assassination attempt on Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Outrage from Southerners over that plan has been speculated to have fueled the plot to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln, a close friend of Capt. Dahlgren.

Just a few days after his second inauguration, President Lincoln would indeed be assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. The actor’s body – along with suspected cohorts – was brought to the Washington Navy Yard where an autopsy was performed onboard the monitor USS Montauk.

The leg of Army Col. Ulrich Dalhgren was buried amid construction of a building at the Washington Navy Yard in 1863. A plaque marks the spot.

The leg of Army Col. Ulrich Dalhgren was buried amid construction of a building at the Washington Navy Yard in 1863. A plaque marks the spot.

Which brings us back to the Navy Yard, which was known to have a special place in the heart of Lincoln. The yard bade its final farewell to the slain president by firing guns every half hour from noon until sundown on May 4, 1865, the day the president was buried at Springfield, Ill.

A more complete history of the Washington Navy Yard may be found here.


Sep 12

NHHC Logo Design Submissions – Tell Us Your Choice

Thursday, September 12, 2013 9:27 AM

After three quick months of open and fierce competition to help inspire Naval History and Heritage Command’s next logo, we’ve compiled all 40 submissions. We have to say, there isn’t one that didn’t get us thinking – great work contestants!

Now it’s your turn: Tell us what you think! Do any of them have the stuff to knock off the reigning NHHC logo?

Click here to view the NHHC logo submissions:

Of course, we are assembling a panel here to examine all the submissions, but determining what defines U.S. Navy history and heritage is everyone’s job. We think highly of your opinions — so share ‘em with us and the group here. We’re eager to hear from you – and we’ll be sure to pass on any thoughts or suggestions you have to the panel members and the Director of NHHC.

We’d ask that in the commentary section below, you choose one favorite design — or designs — that you believe best represent Naval History and Heritage Command and how its work and services are relevant in today’s Navy. Please include your comments, thoughts, suggestions and perhaps areas for improvement on the design.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how truly honored we at NHHC are by the depth and breadth of thoughtful work by the designers. The Logo Contest allowed us to see a wide range of talent, new interpretations on what our command represents, and a host of new branding opportunities to consider. We are deeply grateful to all of you who participated and to those who have viewed and supported this effort online.

OK – get crackin’ and tell us what you think!

Your vote may help us find a new look! Thanks.

Your vote may help us find a new look! Thanks.

Sep 9

National Museum of the US Navy to host Battle of Lake Erie Commemoration

Monday, September 9, 2013 1:58 PM


Join us at 9:00 am on Tuesday, 10 Sept. 2013 at the National Museum of the United States Navy for a day of activities including exhibit tours, demonstrations, first person interpretation, period music, and a lecture at noon.

Schedule of events:

9:05 Showing of WGTE’s documentary “The War of 1812 in the Old Northwest” in the MEC

10:00-10:30 Tour of “1813 Don’t Give Up The Ship” exhibit with Curator Dr. Edward M. Furgol

10:30-11:00 Welcoming Mix and Mingle with Mrs. Madison who will be meandering around the museum telling visitors about living in DC in 1813.

11:00-11:30 Working the Great Guns Naval gun drill by Ship’s Company

11:30-12:00 Ships Company will perform before the lecture

12:00- Lecture by historian Charles Brodine

1:00-1:30 Post lecture performance by Ships Company

1:30-1:45 Working the Great Guns Naval gun drill by Ship’s Company

1:50- Mrs. Madison will make formal remarks

4:00-4:30 Tour of “1813 Don’t Give Up The Ship” exhibit by Curator Dr. Edward M. Furgol

4:05- Showing of WGTE’s documentary “The War of 1812 in the Old Northwest” in the MEC

Visit the “1813 Don’t Give up the Ship exhibit” event details page on Facebook:


Can’t make it? Read up on the Battle with two recently published essays related to
the War of 1812 and the Battle of Lake Erie:

“Constitution Sailors in the Battle of Lake Erie” – By Marc Collins -
“On the morning of September 10, 1813, after a lookout had spotted the British fleet in the distance on Lake Erie, Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry made the decision to finally engage the British after months of preparations. The British had no choice but to launch an attack, having lost their supply route from Fort Malden to Port Dover; it was either fight or continue to go hungry…”
Continue reading the full Essay:
Mark Collins completed an internship at the Naval History and Heritage Command in 2012,
during his fourth year at Aberdeen University.


“Precisely Appropriate for the Purpose”: A Hero, a Motto, a Flag, and the American Character”
- By Zachary Kopin -

“When America went to war in 1812, it did so to protect its maritime trade. For the young country, this cause was not new. The international relationships and entanglements of the previous quarter century had, for the most part, been contested on the high seas. The United States fought both the Quasi-War with France (1797–1801) and the war with Tripoli (1801–1805) for the right to sail and trade freely without harassment. From those wars emerged naval heroes, such as Thomas Truxtun, Edward Preble, and Stephen Decatur, whose exploits a patriotic nation would avidly follow in the newspapers…”
Continue reading the full Essay:
Zachary Kopin completed an internship at the Naval History and Heritage Command in 2013, before entering his third year at American University.

Other news from around the NHHC Museum Network:


War of 1812 news from Naval Station Great Lakes,

the Quarterdeck of the Navy.
From the Great lakes Naval Museum:
Great Lakes Naval Museum Hosts Exhibit on the War of 1812
In honor of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the Great Lakes Naval Museum will be featuring an exhibit on the War of 1812. Included in this display are historic artifacts from the conflict that are on loan from the Naval History and Heritage Command, including pieces of the USS Niagara and USS Constitution and a sword belonging to the commander of the Constitution, Captain Isaac Hull. As an official department of the Navy Museum, the Great Lakes Naval Museum’s mission is to select, collect, preserve, and interpret the history of the United States Navy with particular emphasis on the Navy’s only “boot camp” at Naval Station Great Lakes. The Museum is located at the Naval Station by the Main Gate. Admission and parking are free.
Please call 847-688-3154 or e-mail glnm (at) for more information about this event.
For additional information about the Great Lakes Naval Museum,
visit …or

View the National Museum of the US Navy September events schedule.



Aug 23

NHHC Logo Contest Still Cruising!

Friday, August 23, 2013 2:04 PM

The entries have been sailing in and we thank everyone for sharing their ideas and creativity!

The contest is nearing its end, but there is still time to submit your entries! Entries will be accepted through Midnight on September 1st!

Here are a few more shining examples of the entries we’ve received!

This submission from MC1 Gina Morrissette uses simplicity and tradition to represent everyone who serves in the Navy (past/present/future).

130723 Gina Morrissette_image1 - Copy


 Our latest entry comes from Joe Ieraci, incorporates surface, air, and sub forces.

130822 Joe Ieraci_image 

 Be sure to submit your entries before this cruise is over!

For complete rules and information visit our website: .

Jul 19

Set Sail With the USS Constitution

Friday, July 19, 2013 7:14 AM

As I stepped across the brow onto the deck of USS Constitution the sense of history was almost overwhelming.

It was on these decks that the Sailors from past ages had fought and died for the colors that were whipping in the warm breeze above my head.


Guests of the USS Constitution boarding, 4 July, 2013

Guests of the USS Constitution boarding, 4 July, 2013


It’s July 4th, and time for Old Ironsides to get underway once again as she always does on Independence Day. The maneuvering watch is set and they are preparing their charts and instruments to plot the course down the Charlestown River to Castle Island, a familiar course, but still the motions are required as a Sailor assigned to Constitution must be proficient in these skills in order to be called a Constitution Sailor.

I introduce myself to the Sailors on watch and they say “Welcome aboard the Constitution and just let us know if there is anything we can do to help sir!”

Finding a place on deck, aft, near the Quartermaster’s station, , a simple table with a chart of Boston Harbor and a few tools of the Quartermaster rating and I begin to take a few quick photos.

Among my first impressions was the size of Constitution, it is a real surprise to me, not having ever seen her up close I quickly realized that she was as large as a WW II Destroyer Escort and slightly wider.

As I look around I see the details one misses in simple photographs of the ship. The mooring lines dressed out on deck, the smooth bore Cannon surrounding the deck perimeter and the fighting tops almost 100 feet above my head speak to me, knowing that it was at these locations some of the real fighting took place with Marine sharpshooters taking aim at the enemy’s gun crews and the officers as they knew that by taking these targets out of action the chances for victory increased with each and every well placed round.

After a short time I hear the order to cast off all lines and within moments Constitution begins to move slowly out of her berth, then the order is announced “Underway, shift colors” as a Sailor slowly lowers a perfect replica of the first Navy Jack, “Don’t Tread On Me” in brilliant and bold letters that can be easily seen.

As we pull away from the pier I found myself thinking about Constitution’s great engagements with the British warships that she fought and defeated. Ships with names like Guerriere, Java, Pictou, Cayne and Levant, it was in the engagement with Guerriere that Constitution earned her nickname “Old Ironsides”.

 I watch as the crew raises a large American Flag with 15 stars and 15 bars and everyone begins to cheer, USS Constitution is underway once again.

Constitution - Shift Colors !

The crew is busily moving around deck, seemingly oblivious to the hundreds of eyes watching their every move as they stow mooring lines and equipment, their pride is obvious to all however, as this is a special day for them as well.

I check the chart as the navigation team is busy marking it with the ships position in the channel and hear them discussing their trade, “no, says one Sailor, the measurement must be taken this way”

as he attempts to teach a younger subordinate the correct method of marking the ship’s position every couple of minutes and I find myself thinking that in today’s Navy these tasks are much simpler with advanced digital charts and the benefit of a GPS enhanced moving map display.

The Constitution Sailors of old did not have these tools and would probably view them as magic if they could see them in action today.

Looking out across the channel one can see the “chase boats” of all sizes and bigger harbor cruisers alongside keeping pace with the ship as she slowly makes her way toward Castle Island.

Occasionally a helicopter will fly over or a large commercial airliner as Logan Airport is just a few miles away, I find myself imagining that the sailors of old Constitution would think this technology was magic as well.

As Constitution approaches Castle Island a reminder is announced that the Gun crews will be firing a 21 Gun salute and that hearing protection is advised. Within a few moments the guns are readied and the order to fire is passed, within seconds the ship shakes from the concussion of the guns firing from the bow in sequence, port and starboard, one can hear the order to fire from below on the gun deck and feel the force of the blasts as the ship is slowly rotating in front of the hundreds of onlookers on Castle island.

The cheers from the crowd both on board and ashore can easily be heard between each shot and the feeling of patriotic pride is heavy in the air.

Constitution is showing her stuff once again and there is no denying that she is the focus of thousands of people who have made it a special point to be there to witness this display.

While cruising back to her berth we pass the US Coast Guard Station, Boston, the site of Constitution’s construction and the cannons sound with a 17 Gun salute as we pass by and again the cheers are raised and unmistakable, the “Coasties” ashore and on their vessels waving American Flags and cheering along with Constitution’s riders.


Constitution's 17 Gun salute while passing USCG Station Boston.

Constitution’s 17 Gun salute while passing USCG Station Boston.


 At approach to the pier and Constitution is turned so that she enters her berth stern first and is slowly backed into position with the precision of a skilled surgeon who has done this operation a hundred times before. After a few moments the announcement is made “Moored, shift colors” and history is recorded once again aboard the USS Constitution, America’s Ship of State!

Rod Doty
NHHC Communication & Outreach Div.

View USS Constitution’s 4 July Underway
Photo Album on their Facebook Fan Page:
“Underway, 4 July 2013″



Jun 25

Calling All Hands – Naval History and Heritage Command Logo Contest

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 2:05 PM

How would you literally put your stamp on naval history? Here’s your chance. We are looking to refresh the Naval History and Heritage Command logo – and we want YOU to help create the new one. The winning design will ultimately inspire the new command logo, and the winner will truly go down in history!

The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) enjoys an illustrious history of preserving, analyzing, and disseminating the history and heritage of the U.S. Navy. This organization roots itself as far back as 1800 when President John Adams instructed the first Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddard, to prepare a catalog of professional books for use in the Secretary’s office. Over the next two centuries, the Navy’s history was collected through various offices and departments. Finally, in the early 1970’s, the organization ultimately entitled the Naval History and Heritage Command became the single entity responsible for all aspects of Navy historical preservation and dissemination.

We invite everyone – from the oldest salts to the youngest wannabe Sailors to family members to the general public – to submit designs to help inspire and develop a new logo that promotes our mission and heritage, and helps chart our course forward with lessons from the past.

The contest runs from now until Labor Day (September 2, 2013), when submissions will then be judged and a winner determined and announced here. Designs should consider elements of the NHHC mission, including to…

Collect, preserve, protect and make available the artifacts, documents, and art that best embody our naval history and heritage for present and future generations.

Advance the knowledge of naval history and heritage through professional research, analysis, interpretation, products and services.

Remind America of its reliance on a strong Navy and Marine Corps in protecting its citizens, freedoms and security interests.

So what do you have to lose? Send us your designs and become a part of our history!

For contest rules and entry guidelines click here.

NHHC Logo Master -- large 7x10