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History News

27 Mar 2024

Britain’s Forgotten Prison Island: Remembering the Thousands of Convicts Who Died Working in Bermuda’s Dockyards

An 1862 photo of a prison hulk docked in Ireland Island, Bermuda. (Photo: UK Royal Navy)

We think of Bermuda as a tiny paradise in the North Atlantic. But long before cruise ships moored up, prison ships carried hundreds of convicts to the island, first docking in 1824 and remaining there for decades.Islands have long been places to deport, exile and banish criminals. Think of Alcatraz, the infamous penitentiary in San Francisco, or Robben Island in South Africa, which held Nelson Mandela. The French penal colony Devil’s Island was immortalised in the Steve McQueen film Papillon…

13 Feb 2024

Wreck of WWII-era Cargo Ship Found in the Great Lakes

(Photo: Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society)

The wreck of a World War II-era freighter has been discovered in over 600 feet of water around 35 miles north of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.Over the last 7 years, shipwreck researcher Dan Fountain has been studying remote sensing data in the search for shipwrecks in Lake Superior. After coming across a particularly deep anomaly, he reached out to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS) for help in identifying the potential wreck. In 2023 GLSHS Director of Marine Operations…

26 Dec 2023

Shipwrecks Teem with Underwater Life, from Microbes to Sharks

© Erik / Adobe Stock

Humans have sailed the world’s oceans for thousands of years, but they haven’t all reached port. Researchers estimate that there are some three million shipwrecks worldwide, resting in shallow rivers and bays, coastal waters and the deep ocean. Many sank during catastrophes – some during storms or after running aground, others in battle or collisions with other vessels.Shipwrecks like the RMS Titanic, RMS Lusitania and USS Monitor conjure tales of human courage and sacrifice, sunken treasure and unsolved mysteries.

19 Oct 2023

New York State Canal Corporation Donates Retired Workboat

(Photo courtesy City of Amsterdam)

New York State Canal Corporation has donated one of its retired workboats to be displayed as part of a new educational exhibit set to open in Amsterdam, N.Y. in spring 2024.The vessel, Tender 4, was built in 1926 by American Boiler Works in Erie, Pa., and went on to serve nearly a century for the Canal Corporation, a New York State public-benefit corporation responsible for the oversight, administration and maintenance of the state's canal system.One of nine tenders built for the Canal Corporation in the 1920s…

15 Aug 2023

Global Conservation Mission Sets Sail from UK in Darwin's Wake

(Photo: Darwin200)

Almost two centuries after Charles Darwin's voyage around the world, environmentalists plan to follow in his footsteps by undertaking a two-year journey across four continents to study endemic wildlife and boost conservation.The group will set sail on board a 105-year-old schooner on Tuesday from the southern English port of Plymouth, from where British naturalist Darwin's own expedition began in 1831, leading him to develop the theory of evolution by natural selection.The 40,000 nautical mile "Darwin200" expedition hopes to anchor in 32 ports, including all the major ports visited by Darwin's

11 Jul 2023

Wreck Site Identified as WWII Carrier USS Ommaney Bay (CVE 79)

USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79) (Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command)

Naval History and Heritage Command confirmed the identity of a wreck site as USS Ommaney Bay (CVE 79) July 10. While operating in the Sulu Sea, Ommaney Bay was hit and eventually mortally wounded by a twin-engine Japanese suicide plane on Jan. 4, 1945.NHHC’s Underwater Archaeology Branch used a combination of survey information provided by the Sea Scan Survey team and video footage provided by the DPT Scuba dive team, to confirm the identity of Ommaney Bay. This information correlated with location data for the wreck site provided to NHHC in 2019 by Vulcan…

03 Jul 2023

Archaeologists Plan Rescue of 2,500-year-old Phoenician Shipwreck

Divers from Valencia University map and assess the state of a 2,500-year-old Phoenician vessel that is submerged 60 meters from the beach of Mazarron, Spain, June 20, 2023. (Photo: Jose A Moya/Regional Government of Murcia)

A group of Spanish archaeologists have made detailed diagrams of a 2,500-year-old Phoenician shipwreck to help work out how best to recover it from the sea before a storm destroys it forever.The eight-metre-long Mazarron II, named after the municipality in the southeastern Spanish region of Murcia where it was found off the coast, is a unique piece of ancient maritime engineering.Nine technicians from the University of Valencia underwent 560 hours of scuba diving over more than two weeks in June to record all the cracks and fissures in the ship…

26 Jun 2023

Why the Titanic Disaster Continues to Enthrall

© nyiragongo / Adobe Stock

The question on many minds this week is why did some of the world’s richest men risk death to venture to the bottom of the sea in a cold and cramped “experimental” submersible for a chance to glimpse the wreck of the Titanic?The “unsinkable” ship that sunk on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic in 1912 after colliding with an iceberg is arguably the world’s most well-known boat. The Titanic is recognisable to more of the world’s population than, say, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria (Christopher Colombus’s fleet that launched the Spanish conquest of the Americas)…

01 Mar 2023

Discovery: Historic Shipwreck Found in Lake Huron

Image of the schooner-barge Ironton as it sits on the lake floor today. This image is a point cloud extracted from water column returns from multibeam sonar. Image Credit: Ocean Exploration Trust/NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Researchers from NOAA, the state of Michigan, and Ocean Exploration Trust discovered an intact shipwreck resting hundreds of feet below the surface of Lake Huron. Located within NOAA's Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the shipwreck has been identified as the sailing ship Ironton. Well preserved by the cold freshwater of the Great Lakes for over a century, the 191-ft. Ironton rests upright with its three masts still standing."Using this cutting-edge technology, we have not only located a pristine shipwreck lost for over a century…

21 Feb 2023

19th Century Anchor Recovered from the Thames to Go on Public Display

(Photo: Port of London Authority)

An anchor, believed to date back to the late 1800s, recovered from the Thames riverbed near Gravesend is being prepped to go on public display.In February 2022, Port of London Authority (PLA) divers hauled the anchor from the river at Northfleet after a hydrographic survey identified it as a risk to navigation.The PLA’s head of marine services, Jim Denby said, “We were surprised by the size of the anchor and the fact that it was still in one piece, completely intact and in good…

15 Feb 2023

Rare Footage of Titanic Wreckage Released

(Photo: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Rare video footage showing the Titanic ocean liner on the floor of the Atlantic is being released on Wednesday, decades after the discovery of the wreckage and more than a century after the ship hit an iceberg and sunk.The footage from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) was shot about 2 miles (3 km) below the ocean's surface, just months after explorers found the wreckage in 1985. Most of it has not been previously released to the public.Since the discovery, several documentaries about the Titanic have showed footage of the wreckage scene.

07 Feb 2023

Experts Ready to Reassemble Medieval Vessel Found in the Mud

An artistic impression of how the Newport Medieval ship may have looked. David Jordan/Newport Museums and Heritage Service

When construction work began on a new arts center in Newport, south Wales, in 2002, the builders on site could scarcely have imagined what they would dig up. While excavating the foundations on the banks of the River Usk, a section of a medieval wooden ship was uncovered which had been perfectly preserved by the river’s waterlogged silt. Archaeologists were called in and it soon became clear the vessel was extraordinary.This was not a coastal sailing boat that would have plied the Severn estuary up to the 19th century.

23 Dec 2022

Founded in 1806, SSH Continues Serving Retired Merchant Mariners

Stained glass at SSH’s former facility in Staten Island. Credit SSH.

The Sailors’ Snug Harbor (SSH) is a charity based out of New York that provides assistance to retired merchant mariners. In 2022, SSH helped more than 400 mariners in 33 states and Puerto Rico. SSH helps mariners live more comfortably by assisting them with their living expenses such as rent, mortgages, and utilities. SSH also helps them find other assistance and local services. In recent years, SSH has expanded its eligibility criteria to include inland mariners as well as deep sea mariners.SSH was incorporated in 1806 as the result of a bequest made by Captain Robert Richard Randall.

26 Oct 2022

Insights from the 50th International Congress of Maritime Museums

Oslo Norway - October 19, 2019: Viking drakkar in the Viking Museum in Oslo Norway. Copyright warasit/AdobeStock

For many, the ocean is life. It provides transportation, work, commerce, food, recreation—tales as old as time and shared by people across the globe. These stories are lived day to day, passed down between generations, and shared with the public through various media. Maritime museums assume responsibility to share these histories while honoring the communities shaped ocean exploration and commerce. In a decade where ocean health and climatic events have become a primary focus…

09 Oct 2022

Discovering the Largest Shipwrecks in the St. Lawrence River

The SS “Leecliffe Hall” sailing on the Welland Canal, Ontario, shortly before it sank in the St. Lawrence. (Matt Miner Collection), Author provided

Of all the rivers in the world, the St. Lawrence River is undeniably one of the most challenging for mariners.This water highway is at some spots as narrow as a large river and, at others, as wide as a small sea. It has played a vital role over the last three centuries as an important artery for trade, communication, transportation and settlement. And since 1959, the year the St. Lawrence Seaway was inaugurated, it has been a gateway to the heart of the continent.The first European explorers who sailed the St. Lawrence discovered it was not easy to master: it was long, but never calm.

22 Sep 2022

Holy Land Shipwreck Reveals Tenacity of Ancient Traders as Empires Shifted

© Eli Majewski / Adobe Stock

An ancient shipwreck found off the shore of Israel and loaded with cargo from all over the Mediterranean shows that traders from the West still came to port even after the Islamic conquest of the Holy Land, researchers say.A surprise storm? An inexperienced captain? Whatever the reason, the merchant ship made from fir and walnut trees and carrying containers with delights from far-off lands sank in the shallow waters off what is today the Israeli coastal community of Ma'agan Michael more than 1…

11 May 2022

Researchers Set to Explore Historic Shipwreck off North Carolina

The bow of the iconic Civil War ironclad Monitor resting on the seafloor off North Carolina. (Photo credit: Joe Poe, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary advisory council)

NOAA scientists and partner researchers are set to explore the shipwreck of the USS Monitor, natural reefs and the maritime cultural landscape off the North Carolina coast, and starting May 15, the public will be able to follow along.The two week mission — titled “Valor in the Atlantic” — will use state-of-the-art, remotely-piloted submersibles and other technologies to explore notable sites surrounding America’s first National Marine Sanctuary. The Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration is providing much of the technology for the mission…

18 Apr 2022

Historic US Warship Capsizes in Buffalo

(Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

A retired U.S. Navy destroyer USS The Sullivans has capsized after suffering a severe hull breech while moored on the Buffalo waterfront.On April 13, the 376-foot Fletcher-class destroyer-turned-museum experienced an electrical power-loss resulting in the failure of the onboard water discharge pumps. Progressive flooding and extreme weather conditions caused the vessel to list 45 degrees on its starboard side.Private contractors have been brought on-site by the Buffalo Naval Park to begin dewatering the vessel with four industrial dewatering pumps capable of discharging more than 13…

15 Apr 2022

Oldest Floating Clyde-built Ship to Be Refurbished

(Photo: Scottish Maritime Museum)

After a program of vital welding work, the Scottish Maritime Museum is on track to complete essential repairs to what is believed to be the oldest floating Clyde-built ship in time for the vessel’s 150th anniversary this Summer.The Scottish Maritime Museum raised £40,000 for much-needed repairs to the 1872 MV Kyles, one of Britain’s most important historic vessels and a rare and nationally important survivor from a key period in Glasgow shipbuilding, through a Keep the Kyles Afloat Crowdfunder campaign last year.The Museum’s technical team…

03 Feb 2022

Has Captain Cook’s Ship Endeavour Been Found?

WikiCommons/Illustration by Samuel Atkins

The Australian National Maritime Museum has announced a shipwreck found in Newport Harbor, off Rhode Island in the United States, has been confirmed as Captain Cook’s ship, HMB Endeavour.There have been very similar announcements made over the years but have they finally made a definitive case?By making its announcement, the Australian National Maritime Museum seems to have decided so, and there does seem to have been significant recent progress, centered on one shipwreck that matches the known details of the Endeavour closely.However…

08 Dec 2021

Maritime History: CV1 — USS Langley was a Trailblazer

USS Langley (CV-1), 1923.  Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

While the December 2021 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News examines 'Great Ships' delivered this calendar  year, Edward Lundquist takes a look back into U.S. Navy history and America's first aircraft carrier —CV 1, the USS Langley.Most people think of USS Langley as America’s first aircraft carrier — CV 1. While that’s true, and being the first flattop in the fleet is an honorable distinction, Langley began life as a collier — USS Jupiter, which itself was a relatively new concept of delivering fuel to the afloat forces where they need it. Today, the U.S.

12 Nov 2021

Serbia Restores Warship that Fired First Shots of World War One

SMS Bodrog on the river Danube in 1914 (Photo: Public Domain)

Serbia has finally recalled to service as a floating museum a warship that fired the first shots that began World War One, following years of lobbying from navy ship enthusiasts who wanted it restored.The SMS Bodrog was one of two Austro-Hungarian heavy gunboats that sailed into the confluence of the rivers Sava and Danube around midnight on July 28, 1914. Its two canons hurled shells at Serbian positions in Belgrade, marking the start of the four-year war in which around 20 million people died.Renamed Sava…

20 Oct 2021

Reefer Shipping Exhibit Area Opens at Hamburg Maritime Museum


A new exhibition area on the subject of "Reefer Shipping - Transport of Perishable Goods" is attracting visitors to the International Maritime Museum Hamburg (IMMH). Starting October 19, 2021, this new part of the exhibition on deck 6 will present everything on the subject of reefer shipping, using the Hamburg Süd as an example. From the beginning of reefer shipping in 1877 to the present day, the entire spectrum of development is presented to visitors to the IMMH using ships…