Nov 8

Naval History and Heritage Logo Contest Winning Designs Named

Friday, November 8, 2013 10:44 AM

NHHC Logo Winner

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication Outreach Division

The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) announced the winners of its logo design contest, whose work will serve to inspire the new NHHC logo.

The winning design (pictured right) came from Nathan E. Quinn, a graphics specialist at the Defense Media Activity.

“The main point I was trying to convey with the design is that ‘our past guides our future.’ I have an image of the USS Constitution, which is a long-standing symbol of the Navy. It has persevered through many hardships but still stands today and I think that is a good analogy of the strength and determination of today’s Navy,” said Quinn. “I also added the wheel and compass rose as another way to portray that the past guides us. Overall, I feel that this was a good mixture of visuals and symbolism and I’m honored that they chose the design from so many other great designs.”

The NHHC director and judging panel also favored a series of designs (pictured below) submitted by Peter Thielen, Jr., which was awarded honorable mention. The new logo, which will be released at a later time, will be based on the winning design but will also incorporate elements of the honorable mention designs.

Supporting Logo
Supporting Logo

“I was really impressed and encouraged by the creativity and thought that went into the dozens of submissions we received,” said Capt. Henry Hendrix, NHHC’s director who made the final selections. “The sweeping breadth of both history and heritage can boggle the mind, but I believe the winning design and the honorable mention designs span that expanse in a simple but representative and recognizable graphic.”

Dozens of designs were submitted and can all be seen at The winning design was #23, and the honorable mention designs were #27 and #28.

NHHC has a long history of preserving, analyzing, and disseminating the history and heritage of the U.S. Navy. The organization traces its roots back to 1800 when President John Adams instructed the first Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert, 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 1970s, the organization, ultimately entitled the Naval History and Heritage Command, became a single entity responsible for all aspects of Navy historical preservation and dissemination.

For more news from Naval History and Heritage Command, visit

Nov 7

The Trent Affair and the Indomitable Captain Charles Wilkes

Thursday, November 7, 2013 5:20 PM

Captain Charles Wilkes, USN. Carte de Visite photograph taken circa 1855-62. Wilkes commanded USS San Jacinto in 1861. Collection of Captain A. F. Clifton, MC, USN, 1939. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 92562.

Captain Charles Wilkes, USN. Carte de Visite photograph taken circa 1855-62. Wilkes commanded USS San Jacinto in 1861. Collection of Captain A. F. Clifton, MC, USN, 1939. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 92562.

By Devon Sorlie, Staff Writer
Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

Since the Navy’s inception in 1775, America’s Navy today continues to depend on the prowess and leadership of its people. Although they have always gone to sea in the finest ships and used the best equipment their nation could provide, it’s America’s Sailors who are the source of the Navy’s success. It is their commitment to their mission, their ability to operate independently, and their willingness to stand up for what they believe is right; People Matter! On this date in 1861, one such Sailor thrust himself onto the international stage standing up for what he believed… and not for the first time.

Today is the 152nd anniversary of the infamous “Trent Affair,” a diplomatic stare-down between the United States and the United Kingdom caused after a U.S. ship, the USS San Jacinto, stopped the British mail packet RMS Trent and arrested two Confederate diplomats James Mason and John Slidell, on Nov. 8, 1861.

The Confederate diplomats planned to visit London and Paris to lobby officials to recognize the Confederate States of America as a separate entity from the United States, thereby allowing allied military support from the UK, as well as possibly halting the U.S. naval blockade off their southern ports. The Southern military remembered when the French blockaded the exit for British general Lord Charles Cornwallis, who surrendered to American forces in Yorktown on Oct. 19, 1781. They knew without the support of a foreign navy’s intervention, they might lose the war.

Avid students of military history may recall Great Britain’s reaction to the arrest of Mason and Slidell: They were affronted their former upstart colony commandeered one of their mail ships. In retaliation, Great Britain sent thousands of troops to Canada. The threat of widening the Civil War into an international conflict ceased when President Abraham Lincoln disavowed the action of the USS San Jacinto’s captain and set the prisoners free. In doing so, he mitigated the potential of being sandwiched between a two-front military engagement with the Confederacy in the south and Great Britain to the north.

Front and center of that controversy was the San Jacinto’s commanding officer, Capt. Charles Wilkes, who ordered the shot fired across the bow of the Trent. The future rear admiral had a history with controversy that resulted in a couple of court-martials and the nickname “The Notorious Wilkes.”

The Trent Affair wasn’t Wilkes’ first rash decision. In 1838, the then-Lt. Wilkes led what would be known as the “Wilkes Expedition” that left Hampton Roads, Va. Commanding the flagship USS Vincennes and five support vessels, Wilkes and his flotilla completed the last circumnavigation of the globe by sail over the next five years, which included exploring the American northwest and the Polynesian Islands. It was considered a huge success, with Wilkes collecting thousands of animal and plant specimens, created 200 nautical charts of the Pacific, and confirming the existence of a continental landmass in the Antarctic Ocean.

It was during those travels that Wilkes’ nephew and another sailor were killed while bartering for food on Malolo Island in Fiji. Wilkes’ retribution was swift. According to an island resident, nearly 80 Fijians were killed in retaliation.

While on a mission to measure gravity with a pendulum on the summit of the 13,680-foot volcano Mauna Loa in Hawaii, Wilkes hired hundreds of natives and his own men to make the trip. Rather than using an established path, Wilkes went his own way, taking longer than anticipated. As a result, his crew suffered from snow blindness, altitude sickness and foot injuries.

Wilkes logged 87,000 nautical miles over the five years, returning without two ships and 28 men. He was court-martialed for the loss of one ship and for the mistreatment of his officers and enlisted crew. He was acquitted on all charges except for illegally punishing men in his squadron for which he was reprimanded.

Upon his return, Wilkes wrote several books, including the Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition, published in 1844. American author Henry Melville used Wilkes’ 5-volume Narrative as research for characters and background settings in his 1851 book, Moby-Dick, and some historians believe the unduly-harsh disciplinarian Capt. Ahab was based on Wilkes.

After two promotions, Capt. Wilkes was assigned to command San Jacinto to search for the Confederate commerce destroyer Sumter during the early days of the Civil War. Wilkes’ often violated British rule by staying more than one day in port at the British colony of Bermuda, where Wilkes’ gunboats blockaded St. George’s Harbor, a key base for Confederate ships. When he heard a British ship was carrying Confederate envoys to London, the San Jacinto chased down the Trent in international waters to apprehend Mason and Slidell.

Wilkes briefly considered commandeering the Trent “as a prize for resisting the search and carrying these passengers…but the reduced number of officers and crew, and the large number of passengers on board bound to Europe who would be put to great inconvenience, decided me to allow them to proceed,” Wilkes explained in his report to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles.

Initially, Wilkes was heralded as a hero. The New York Times published a story about their native son Nov. 17, 1861, stating “The whole country now rings with applause of his bold action.”

But that hero status changed when the British – who had tried to stay out of the increasing tensions between the northern and southern states — upped the ante by sending thousands of troops into Canada.

After his actions were disavowed in the Trent Affair, Wilkes’ relationship with the Navy Department and Welles became strained. When Welles wrote in a report that Wilkes’ was too old to have received his promotion to captain, Wilkes angrily responded in a letter, which resulted in Wilkes being charged and found guilty of insubordination and disobedience of orders during his second court-marital April 26, 1864. President Lincoln suspended Wilkes’ three-year sentence to one year and dropped other charges, perhaps to make up for disavowing Wilkes’ part in the Trent Affair.

Wilkes was promoted to rear admiral on July 25, 1866, at the age of 68. He died in 1877 and his remains were moved to Arlington National Cemetery where his tombstone states “He discovered the Antarctic continent.”
Four ships have been named for Rear Admiral Charles Wilkes: torpedo boat Wilkes (TB-35); World War I destroyer Wilkes (DD-67), and World War II destroyer (DD-441). In a nod to Wilkes’ penchant for travel, an oceanographic survey vessel Wilkes (T-AGS-33) was launched in 1969.

Those ships all honored Wilkes, his discoveries, bravery and strong sense of justice.

Nov 5

First Catapult Launch: November 5, 1915

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 8:38 AM
First catapult launch from a ship.

First catapult launch from a ship.

On November 5, 1915, Lt.Comdr. Henry C. Mustin, in an AB-2 flying boat, made the first catapult launching from a ship, flying off the stern of the USS North Carolina (ACR 12) in Pensacola, Fl.

View NHHC’s Facebook Photo Album for this event:

This and other historic photographs are available in the Naval Institute’s on-line photo gallery:

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Oct 24

The U.S. Coast Guard in Grenada

Thursday, October 24, 2013 12:38 PM

It is the anniversary of the invasion of Grenada which took place 30 years ago. The following article, The Guard in Grenada by Dale L. Thompson was first published in Naval Institute Proceedings in November, 1984.

Grenadian children from the town of Gouyave greet the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cape Fox. Quartermaster Chief Nicholas H. Lobkowicz looks on.

Grenadian children from the town of Gouyave greet the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cape Fox. Quartermaster Chief Nicholas H. Lobkowicz looks on.

In late October 1983, Grenada was torn by internal revolution. Its Marxist government had come apart, and conditions of anarchy and bloody repression were reported. Concerns for the lives of the U. S. citizens on the island and for stability in that portion of the Caribbean led to the 25 October rescue mission. The invasion force contained personnel from all the U. S. services and six other Caribbean Island states, which made up the Caribbean Peacekeeping Force (CPF). The U. S. Coast Guard participated on the invasion day with two search and rescue platforms, a C-130 aircraft, and the USCGC Chase (WHEC-718). Later, in December, the Coast Guard returned in force to the island. Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 23

Beirut Marine Barracks bombing: October 23, 1983

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 3:49 PM

Thirty years ago today, two truck bombs struck seperate buildings housing U.S. Marines and French forces, members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon, and killed 299 American & French servicemen. 220 U.S. Marines & 18 Sailors were among the casualties. This was the deadliest day in Marine Corps history since Iwo Jima. The following article, Navy-Marine Corps Team in Lebanon by Lieutenant Colonel David Evins, U.S. Marine Corps, is from the May 1984 issue of Proceedings magazine.

Rescue Workers - Lebanon- Oct 23-24 1983

On 6 June 1982, the Israeli Army crossed the border into southern Lebanon. One hundred thousand troops swept north , backed up by the Israelis ‘ razor-sharp tactical air force of 550 planes. Their announced objective was the east-west line of the Litani River, 15 miles into the interior. For the fifth time in little more than three decades Israeli troops were on the march. Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 23

The Search for Bonhomme Richard: By NHHC Underwater Archaeology Branch

Monday, September 23, 2013 8:32 AM

The hunt for the remains of Bonhomme Richard continues in the North Sea. On September 23rd, 1779, Bonhomme Richard engaged in fierce combat with HMS Seripis during the Battle of Flamborough Head off the English coast. Captained by the formidable John Paul Jones, who is often credited as the “father” of the U.S. Navy, Bonhomme Richard emerged victorious from the battle, but proved irreparably damaged. Despite all efforts to save the ship, Bonhomme Richard sank into the North Sea on September 25th, 1779.

Between 21 May and 9 June, 2012, the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), partnered with Ocean Technology Foundation and the U.S. Naval Academy, to continue the multiyear, multinational effort to locate the remains of the historic ship. The 2012 survey mission was accomplished with generous support from the French Navy (Marine Nationale) and the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVO). The mission was conducted off of three vessels French vessels that provided remote sensing technology, utilizing Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) along with French Navy divers. During the three week mission, the teams covered 37 square nautical miles, identified over 80 targets, and conducted several remote-sensing and dive team operations on targets of particular interest. The 2012 survey provided an excellent opportunity for real-world operational cross-training with the French Navy. After data analysis, one target proved of significant interest for any future survey efforts.

In 2013, a documentary was released on the 2011 Bonhomme Richard expedition aboard USNS Grasp on the Discovery Channel show Mighty Ships. If you wish to read about past expeditions, including the 2011 survey mission, click on the “Bonhomme Richard” tag below. For more information on the Naval History and Heritage Command and the NHHC’s Underwater Archaeology Branch visit our website at

View NHHC’s photo presentation:
“23 Sept 1779: Continental Frigate Bonhomme Richard vs HMS Serapis”
on our Facebook fan page:

American and French teams on the 2012 search for Bonhomme Richard. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Robert Neyland).

American and French teams on the 2012 search for Bonhomme Richard. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Robert Neyland).

Sep 16

Remembering my time on Kwajalein by Leonard “Jack” Meyerson

Monday, September 16, 2013 9:25 AM

Seabees carve landing strip in Marshall Islands


The following interesting memoir was submitted by Leonard “Jack” Meyerson, Seaman 1st Class:

The 74th Naval Construction Battalion had been waiting on Kwajalein Atoll for three months. The landing strip we had built was perfect, the structures we had erected were occupied, and the air base was operating efficiently. There was absolutely nothing for us to do but wait. Someone in the chain of command had forgotten we could be taken off the coral atoll and that the war was passing us by. We envied the Army Air Forces personnel who occupied the base that we had built for them. They were fighting the enemy.

I was happy to be in a Seabee work detail assigned to help the Air Forces clean up their base for a “high-level” inspection. It broke the monotony and allowed me to feel that I was part of the war effort. A tent in the corner of the Air Forces’ quarters had been emptied for us, and after unloading our gear, we immediately got to work. Our job was to clear the grounds of cigarette butts, beer cans, abandoned whiskey bottles, and other unsightly objects that might upset the inspection. We continued our labors for the next three days. When we awoke on the fourth morning, we found that all the tents around us were empty. The entire area had been declared off limits to everyone on the island, but someone forgot to tell us. Assuming that the inspection was over, we began to clean the tent, pack our gear, and prepare to leave.

I was sitting on the wooden floor of the tent straddling a bucket of water that my pants were soaking in when I became aware of dress shoes and khaki-clad legs passing by me. I lifted my head and saw two officers, each with two stars on their collars, and behind them I saw officers with three stars on their collars, and then I counted four stars.

“Wow,” somebody behind me shouted, “That’s Admiral Nimitz.”

I sat there, my mouth half opened, clutching my soaking pants as Admiral Nimitz looked my way for a half second before the inspecting party moved on.

“You should have stood up and saluted,” someone yelled at me.

“I couldn’t,” I replied. “I was holding wet pants in my hand. It would have been disrespectful.”

“Hey this is a war zone,” someone offered. “You are not supposed to salute officers in a war zone.”

And that’s how a brawl was avoided.

As we were driven back to the Seabee encampment the next morning, we wondered what would happen to us. Would we be court-martialed for violating some “Articles of the Navy” protocol, something none of us had ever read; would we be tried for failing to salute an admiral; or we would they just throw us in the brig for something else that we did wrong without knowing it?

When we reached our base we reported to company headquarters and were told to return to our quarters. Our encounter with the admiralty was never mentioned. It had never been reported. We went back to our platoons relieved that we had not been charged with anything, rejoined our mates, and waited. But we knew that we had had a great adventure. We had seen the admirals of the fleet on our forgotten atoll. We had a real war story to tell when the war was over and we returned home. And it actually happened to us.


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.