Piracy and World Maritime Day

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Today, Thursday, is World Maritime Day. I recently received this infographic on modern-day piracy around the world, and efforts to combat it. Although it’s presented in a fun format, it contains some useful information about what remains a serious problem in some parts of the world. You can view a slightly larger version here.

This graphic was sent me by Tom Murphy of Nature’s Water Ltd., a water treatment and filtration company in Ireland. Thanks for the graphic, Tom!

 

 

U.S.S. Monitor Crewmen Buried at Arlington

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Diana Rambo, and her husband Lorin Rambo, from Fresno, Calif., pause at a casket of unidentified remains after services to honor two sailors from the Civil War ship, the USS Monitor, at Arlington National Cemetery, Friday, March 8, 2013 in Arlington, Va. Mrs. Rambo is related to USS Monitor crew member Jacob Nicklis. A century and a half after the Civil War ship the USS Monitor sank, two unknown crewmen found in the ironclad’s turret were buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Friday’s burial may be the last time Civil War soldiers are buried at the cemetery. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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Over the last year or so we’ve covered the story of the two members of Monitor‘s crew that were found inside the ship’s turret after it was recovered from the floor of the Atlantic off Cape Hatteras in 2002. Officials had hoped to be able to positively identify them from among the sixteen men known to have been lost with the ship, but have so far been unable to, despite efforts through genealogical research, DNA testing and creating facial reconstructions. On Friday, those two men were buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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The burial, which included a three-gun salute [sic., three volleys] and a brass band playing “America the Beautiful,” may be the last time Civil War soldiers are buried at the cemetery overlooking Washington.
 
“Today is a tribute to all the men and women who have gone to sea, but especially to those who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf,” said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who spoke at a funeral service before the burial.
 
The Monitor made nautical history when the Union ship fought the Confederate CSS Virginia in the first battle between two ironclads on March 9, 1862. The battle was a draw.
 
The Monitor sank about nine months later in rough seas off North Carolina, and 16 sailors died. In 2002, the ship’s rusted turret was raised from the Atlantic Ocean floor, and the skeletons of the two crew members were found inside.
 
Researchers attempted to identify the remains by reconstructing the sailors’ faces using their skulls and by comparing DNA from the skeletons with living descendants of the ship’s crew and their families. They were unable to positively identify the men, though medical and Navy records narrowed the possibilities to six people.
 
What is known is that one of the men was between 17 and 24 years of age and the other was likely in his 30s. A genealogist who worked on the project believes the older sailor is Robert Williams, the ship’s fireman, who would have tended the Monitor’s coal-fired steam engine.

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A marker dedicated to all 16 men lost with the ship will be placed over the grave site. Efforts to identify the men interred there will continue.

Additional photos of the service after the jump, by Associated Press photographer Alex Brandon.

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Sailors march as they depart after services to honor two sailors from the Civil War ship, the USS Monitor, at Arlington National Cemetery, Friday, March 8, 2013 in Arlington, Va. A century and a half after the Civil War ship the USS Monitor sank, two unknown crewmen found in the ironclad’s turret were buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Friday’s burial may be the last time Civil War soldiers are buried at the cemetery. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Two Navy Honor Guard teams carry two caskets of remains as they depart Fort Meter Memorial Chapel during services to honor two sailors from the Civil War ship, the USS Monitor, Friday, March 8, 2013 in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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A man in Civil War period attire salutes as two flag draped caskets arrive at Fort Meyer Memorial Chapel for services to honor two sailors from the Civil War ship, the USS Monitor, Friday, March 8, 2013 in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Two honor guards simultaneously fold two American flags during services to honor two sailors from the Civil War ship, the USS Monitor, at Arlington National Cemetery, Friday, March 8, 2013 in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Sailors salute as one of two honor guard team places a casket of remains, during services to honor two sailors from the Civil War ship, the USS Monitor, at Arlington National Cemetery, Friday, March 8, 2013 in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Two Navy Honor Guard teams load two caskets of remains during services to honor two sailors from the Civil War ship, the USS Monitor, as they depart Fort Meyer Memorial Chapel, Friday, March 8, 2013 in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Two Honor Guard carry teams stand next to two flag draped caskets as they arrive at Fort Meyer Memorial Chapel for services to honor two sailors from the Civil War ship, the USS Monitor, Friday, March 8, 2013 in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Bounty, Ctd.

The other day I posted about the Bounty sinking, and made the observation that “the people who crew these vessels (replicas or restorations) are a small, closely-bonded community, and. . . this is going to hit that community very hard, much like the loss of Pride of Baltimore did back in 1986, because everybody knows somebody in that crew.”

I’m not part of that community myself, but it turns out that I knew slightly one of Bounty‘s crew, as well. Doug Faunt, the older, bearded gentleman interviewed in the segment above, was part of the 2007 PAST Foundation field school in the Florida Keys. He had his bear then, too. I’m glad he’s OK.

Bounty

You all know by now of the loss early Monday of Bounty, the sailing replica of the 18th century naval transport, in the Atlantic due to Hurricane Sandy. Fourteen of the sixteen crew members aboard were rescued by the Coast Guard early Monday morning. Claudene Christian, 42, was pulled from the water later Monday in an “unresponsive” state and died Monday evening in a hospital onshore. She was the great-great-great-great-great granddaughter of Fletcher Christian, the Master’s Mate who led the mutiny aboard the original Bounty. Her family lives in Oklahoma. As of now, Captain Robin Walbridge is still missing.

There are questions about Bounty‘s route and the decisions made, but those can be sorted out later. Not today, not right now.

Two personal notes, I visited this ship quite a few years ago — I cannot now remember exactly where — and my overall impression then was that she was not in very good shape. I don’t believe she could even operate under sail then; she motored from port to port, and seemed to be in a terminal decline. But having looked at many much more recent pictures of her in the last 24 hours, though, it’s clear that she has been in much better shape lately than was the case all those years back, now actively working as a sail training ship. She really was reborn, given new life as a sailing ship.

The second is that, while she was lost on a passage from New London, Connecticut to St. Petersburg, Florida, her ultimate destination was here in Galveston, where she would spend the winter months at Pier 21, adjacent to Elissa. Lots of folks here were looking forward to that. The people who crew these vessels (replicas or restorations) are a small, closely-bonded community, and I’m sure a number of Elissa‘s crew served in Bounty‘s crew, and vice-versa. This is going to hit that community very hard, much like the loss of Pride of Baltimore did back in 1986, because everybody knows somebody in that crew.

Our prayers and thoughts go out to those crew members who were rescued, and the friends and families of all aboard.

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Image via H.M.S. Bounty‘s Facebook page.

Maritime Law Can Be Odd

January’s sinking of Costa Concordia in Italy caused an odd legal ripple in Galveston Saturday, where the cruise ship Carnival Triumph was briefly “arrested” by federal authorities. The action came at the request of a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Costa which is a subsidiary of Carnival. Apparently by formally attaching one of Carnival’s ships to the case, this action ties that company into the case, and makes available any internal documents or communications within Carnival as potential evidence. But why Carnival Triumph, of all the ships Carnival operates out of U.S. ports?

[Plaintiff's attorney John Arthur] Eves said the lawsuit seeking to attach the Triumph was filed in Galveston federal court because of a quirk in maritime law. The plaintiffs wanted to attach a Carnival asset and thereby bring the U.S. arm of Carnival into the lawsuit but could only do so under maritime law by suing in a federal judicial district where the owner has no agent. Carnival has an agent in Miami, where most of the Concordia lawsuits in the United States have been filed, Eves said.

Eves said neither Carnival PLC nor the ship’s owner, Utopia Cruises Inc., have an agent in the Southern Judicial District of Texas. Utopia is a paper company incorporated in Panama by Carnival, he said.

It turns out there was a confidential agreement in place ahead of time that the ship would be allowed to sail, and she did, only a half-hour after the scheduled departure time.

Final Maneuvers of Costa Concordia

The maritime bloggers at gCaptain continue to provide the best English-language coverage of the disaster I’ve seen. Although news updates are less frequent now, nearly a week after the accident, the search to recover victims and efforts to secure the wreck continue.

One particularly worthwhile update has been this video, which uses AIS data to trace the final maneuvers of the ship before, during and after her fatal collision with the “Le Scole” rock just south of Porto Giglio. The lideo is long, and not especially polished, but pending release of official findings based on the voyage data recorder — the ship’s “black box” — this may be the best summary of the vessel’s maneuvers at the time of the accident.

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Image: Carabinieri scuba divers inspect the Costa Concordia, on January 19, 2012. Italian rescue workers suspended their search of the capsized Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia after the ship moved again on Friday, firefighters’ spokeman Luca Cari said. (Reuters/Centro subacquei dei Carabinieri)

 

Update on Elissa Restoration Campaign

Good news for the fundraising effort to make critical repairs to the iron barque’s hull:

The Galveston Historical Foundation is inching closer to its goal of raising $3 million to restore the tall ship Elissa. . . .

“Elissa has been berthed in the same location for over 30 years and regularly maintained without this ever occurring before the months after Hurricane Ike,” [GHF Director Dwayne] Jones said. “Keeping Elissa sailing is very important to the foundation as she is one of three tall ships in the world that still sails. The foundation has sailed her with its very committed volunteer crew every year since she was restored.”

Jones said the Keep Elissa Sailing campaign has been successful, with progress on most of the funds needed for the hull and deck restoration expected to be reached this year.

Some of that help comes from the sale of Elissa beer, an India pale ale brewed by St. Arnold’s Brewery in Houston. Some of the proceeds of the Elissa beer sales are donated to the historical foundation.

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How To Help

• Those interested in donating to help restore the tall ship Elissa can make a $10 gift by texting “Elissa” to 50555 on their cellphone.

• Galveston Historical Foundation’s website, www.Galvestonhistory.org, has a complete schedule of fundraising events.

Image: Crew members and invited guests are silhouetted aboard the 1877 barque Elissa as they sail in the ship channel March 22, 2010. The Keep Elissa Sailing campaign aims to raise $3 million to pay for repairs to the tall ship. Published January 02, 2012. Photo by Jennifer Reynolds, Galveston County Daily News.

Cruise Ship Air Evacuation

Thursday evening we headed out to a holiday dinner with friends. As we drove along Seawall Boulevard, we noticed the lights of the cruise ship Carnival Triumph, which had sailed from her berth maybe 45 minutes or an hour before. She was already miles offshore, but still clearly visible, her whole side lit up and shining across the water. It proved the be the start of a dramatic evening on the ship. From the Houston Chronicle:

A Coast Guard helicopter rescue crew has evacuated a 73-year-old man from a cruise ship about 100 miles off Galveston, according to this news release.

Personnel on duty at the Coast Guard’s Houston-Galveston station got a call about 10 p.m. Thursday that the man on board the Carnival Triumph had a blood clot in his foot and needed to be evacuated immediately.

An MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter took off about 11:40 p.m. Thursday from the Coast Guard Air Station Houston. The crew hoisted their passenger off the cruise ship and flew him to awaiting emergency responders at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, the release said.

They make it look easy, don’t they?

Ugh.

From the Chron’s energy blog, Fuel Fix:

A report in an Alabama newspaper today is fueling more speculation that BP’s Macondo well, source of last year’s disastrous Gulf oil spill, is leaking again.

Visiting the site by boat Thursday, reporters with The Mobile Press-Register found, “hundreds of small, circular patches of oily sheen dotted the surface within a mile of the wellhead” and a “pronounced and pungent petroleum smell.”

Most of the oil was located in a patch about 50 yards wide and a quarter of a mile long, the paper reported.

While the source of the oil was unclear, a chemical analysis by Louisiana State University scientists confirmed that it was a sweet Louisiana crude and could be from BP’s Macondo well, the paper said.

Last week, BP responded to online reports suggesting the well had begun to leak again by saying, “none of this is true.”

And we should believe BP, why?

U.S.S. Monitor Turret Revealed

Via Michael Lynch at Past in the Present, there are about three weeks left to see the 120-ton turret of the Union ironclad Monitor, currently undergoing restoration at the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News.The turret, recovered from the sea floor off Cape Hatteras in 2002, has been kept in a flooded tank of fresh water almost the entire time since then, allowing the salts that have penetrated the iron to gradually leach out. After a thorough cleaning, the turret will be flooded again, to to continue desalinization, a lengthy process that may take up to 15 more years. Even with the tank drained, it’s slow, painstaking work:

[Gary] Paden is an objects handler working in the USS Monitor Center at The Mariners’ Museum. He was gently nudging, hour after painstaking hour, a wrought-iron stanchion from the 9-foot-tall revolving gun turret that once sat atop the Civil War ironclad.

The stanchions rimmed the roof of the Monitor and held up a canvas awning to shelter the crew from the broiling sun. The stanchions needed to be removed so they could be separately treated for conservation.

Last week Paden strived to remove one of those stanchions from its bracket using a hydraulic jack. “I spent seven hours on it yesterday,” Paden said. “So far it’s been the most difficult one.”

Several other workers came in closer to watch, including Dave Krop, manager of the Monitor conservation project.

Paden said most of the tools used in restoring the various components of the Monitor brought up from the ocean’s floor were improvised. The hydraulic jack is an auto body tool used to fix dents.

He pressed the jack into the point where the stanchion met the bracket. A moment later, the stanchion fell from its 149-year-old position.

“Wow,” Krop said. “You got it off. Pretty awesome! That’s pretty awesome!”

Several handlers nearby paused from their snail’s-pace labors to savor the moment, beaming in Paden’s direction.

A few years ago I visited Mariners while doing research on another vessel and, after talking to one of the conservators there about my own project, was offered the chance to take a brief tour of the lab where they were working on Monitor artifacts. (That says less about me than it does about how much they wanted to show off the work they were doing there, and rightly so.) I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, but they showed me a first a life-sized color photograph of an encrusted dial from the engine room — a steam gauge, I think — and then, with a well-practiced flourish, pulled back a cloth covering the same artifact, now almost pristine, looking as new as the day the ship sailed over 140 years before. Folks like Gary Paden and Dave Krop don’t get a lot of attention, because their work is all behind-the-scenes, but it’s important to recognize what they do, that benefits every history buff and museum-goer.


Moment of nerd: the dents made to the exterior of Monitor‘s turret by the guns of C.S.S. Virginia are still visible, 149 years later, on the interior of the upside-down turret. Additional damage to the deck edge is visible at lower right.

More video via the New York Times here. The tank containing Monitor‘s turret will be drained during the week during the rest of August. I hope some of y’all can make the trip. I’m certain you won’t be disappointed. For the rest of us, there’s always the webcam.

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Top color photo: “Dave Krop, who manages the Monitor conservation project, works inside the inverted turret at the Mariner’s Museum. Visitors can watch the work from viewing platforms or online.” Credit: Steve Earley, the Virginian-Pilot. Archival photo: Library of Congress. Bottom photo: Diorama of interior of Monitor‘s turret in action by Sheperd Paine, from U.S.S. Monitor: The Ship that Launched a Modern Navy by Lt. Edward M. MIller, USN.