The National Maritime Historical Society

Save the Date! New York City Pickle Night is 9 November at the New York Yacht Club

CREDIT: I Have Urgent Dispatches by Gordon Frickers

This year marks the 213th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, and the 14th New York City Pickle Night Dinner will mark this history shaping event on 9 November 2018.  Those who appreciate the historical significance of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson and the lore associated with his life are invited to attend this special event.  The Dinner is named for HM Schooner Pickle, which participated in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and which brought the news to Britain of Nelson’s victory and death in the battle. This event has been a perennial success, with guests from the Ticket price is $295 per person. Dress is black tie or military equivalent. United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Switzerland and elsewhere.

Antony Phillipson, Her Majesty’s Consul General in New York is the Honorary Dinner Chairman.

Vice Admiral Tony Radakin, Second Sea Lord, Royal Navy, will be the main speaker.  Most recently Chief of Staff of the Joint Forces Command, his initial duty assignments have included officer of the watch in HMS LEEDS CASTLE, navigator in HMS ANDROMEDA, commanding officer in HMS BLAZER and operations officer HMS BEAVER.  Subsequent assignments include both shore and afloat duty in the Royal Navy and international commands including security duties in the Falklands, NATO embargo operations in the Adriatic, as well as escort duties in the Iran/Iraq Tanker War, and countering smuggling in Hong Kong and the Caribbean. While serving with the Naval Training Team in Iraq, he was awarded the Bronze Star by the United States government. VAdm Radakin is a qualified barrister, and has also graduated from several military related courses in the U.S.  His operational and academic experience gives him a special operator’s perspective on the Royal Navy and Lord Nelson.l

Space is limited.  For reservations or additional information, please contact email Sally McElwreath Callo or call (212)972 8667.

The American Friends of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, our sponsor, is recognized as a tax exempt organization. The Nelson Society, The 1805 Club and the National Maritime Historical Society also support this event.

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Sunken Gold: Seminar with Joseph Williams on 20 June


Join us Wednesday, 20 June 2018 for The Sunken Gold: A Story of World War I Espionage and the Greatest Treasure Salvage in History, a presentation and book signing with Joseph A. Williams.  See the author’s riveting book trailer here.

On January 25, 1917, HMS Laurentic struck two German mines off the coast of Ireland and sank. The ship was carrying 44 tons of gold bullion to the still-neutral United States via Canada in order to finance the war effort for Britain and its allies. Britain desperately needed that sunken treasure, but any salvage had to be secret since the British government dared not alert the Germans to the presence of the gold.  Lieutenant Commander Guybon Damant was the most qualified officer to head the risky mission. Wild gales battered the wreck into the shape of an accordion, turning the operation into a multiyear struggle of man versus nature.

As the war raged on, Damant was called off the salvage to lead a team of covert divers to investigate and search through the contents of recently sunk U-boats for ciphers, minefield schematics, and other secrets. The information they obtained, once in the hands of British intelligence, proved critical toward Allied efforts to defeat the U-boats and win the war.  But Damant had become obsessed with completing his long-deferred mission. His team struggled for five more years as it became apparent that the work could only be accomplished by muscle, grit, and persistence. Using newly discovered sources, author Joseph A. Williams provides the first full-length account of the quest for the Laurentic’s gold. More than an incredible story about undersea diving adventure, The Sunken Gold is a story of human persistence, bravery, and patriotism.

Register Here
Wednesday, 20 June:  Registration/Refreshments at 6:30 PM, Lecture at  7:00 PM
Location: Hendrick Hudson Free Library, 185 Kings Ferry Road, Montrose, NY.

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National Maritime Awards Dinner – VIEW PHOTOS

The National Maritime Historical Society (NMHS) and the Naval Historical Foundation (NHF) honored three distinguished individuals and organizations at their National Maritime Awards Dinner on Tuesday, 4 April 2017, at the elegant, historic and iconic Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

This illustrious event brought together those who love and serve the sea—leaders of the military sea services, merchant marine and maritime industry; maritime authors and artists; oceanographers, sea explorers and scientists; competitive yachtsmen; philanthropists and government officials who have supported America’s maritime heritage; industrial and pleasure boat designers and builders; cruise lines operators; aquaculturalists; maritime educators; and maritime educational institutions and museums.

Funds raised support the education initiatives of both organizations.

The maritime community gathered to honor Conservation Internaci_42483771tional, an American non-profit environmental organization, and its chairman and founder Peter Seligmann, on the occasion of its 30th anniversary. Conservation International has had a major impact on the health of the world’s oceans and shorelines. Conservation International is a founder of the Ocean Health Index and serves as the managing partner.  The NMHS Distinguished Service Award was presented by Thomas L. Friedman, the distinguished three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist.

The NMHS Distinguished Service Award was also given to the National Geographic Society for its extraordinary achievements in chronicling mankind’s relationship with the water and educating tens of millions of readers and viewers about our global maritime heritage. Since its first issue, National Geographic magazine has introduced generation after generation to maritime cultures around the globe and how they have contributed to our civilization. National Geographic  magazine is currently published in 38 editions in 33 languages in 75 countries, with a combined English and non-English circulation of 5.6 million copies per month.  Gary Knell, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society, accepted the award, which was presented by internationally-recognized underwater explorer Dr. Robert Ballard, discoverer of the wreck of the Titanic.

The Naval Historical Foundation Distinguished Service Award was presented to Dr. J. Phillip London, executive chairman and former CEO of CACI International for 23 jacklondoncaciphotoyears until 2007. Under Dr. London’s leadership, CACI has become a trendsetter in offering IT solutions and consulting services across markets throughout North America and Western Europe. Dr. London served 12 years as an officer during the Cold War, as a naval aviator and carrier pilot from 1959 to 1971, and in the US Naval Reserve until 1983. He has made extensive contributions to naval heritage projects and has served on many boards, including the Naval Historical Foundation, the United States Naval Institute and the Navy Memorial Foundation. The NHF Distinguished Service Award was presented to Dr. London by Admiral William J. Fallon, USN (Ret.), chairman of the Naval Historical Foundation.



CAPT Jim Noone, USN (Ret.) Dinner Co-Chair
Dr. Timothy J. Runyan, Dinner Co-Chair
Philip Webster, Founding Chair

Charles B. Anderson; Jonathan Boulware ; John Brady; Walter R. Brown; CAPT Patrick Burns, USN (Ret.); RADM Joseph F. Callo, USN (Ret.); Dr. William Cogar; CAPT Charles Creekman, USN (Ret.); Vice Admiral Dirk J. Debbink, USNR (Ret.); Donna Dudley; Dr. William Dudley; Paul Fontenoy; David S. Fowler; Burchenal Green; Kristen Greenaway; Karen Helmerson; Dana Hewson; Howard Hoege; Gary Jobson; Dr. Paul F. Johnston; Vice Admiral Al Konetzni, USN (Ret.); Denise Krepp; Amy Lent; Richardo Lopes; Guy E. C. Maitland; Ginger Martus; LCDR Jim Mathieu, USCG (Ret.); CAPT Sally Chin McElwreath, USN (Ret.); Drew McMullen; Captain James J. McNamara; RADM John Mitchell USN (Ret.); Captain Eric Nielsen; Ronald L. Oswald; Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., USCG (Ret.); The Honorable S. Jay Plager; Bert Rogers; Christopher Rowsom; Kristen Sarri; Clair Sassin; Richard Scarano; Philip Shapiro; Howard Slotnick; Duncan Smith III, Esq; Dr. Joshua Smith; Captain Cesare Sorio; Irmy Webster; Dr. David Winkler; Jean Wort

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Unveiling of Griffiths Headstone Planned for 23 July

NMHS is proud to announce the unveiling of a headstone at the grave of legendary naval architect John W. Griffiths on Saturday, 23 July 2016. The ceremony will take place in Queens at the Linden Hill United Methodist Cemetery at 10:30 am.


John W. Griffiths (6 October 1809 – 30 March 1882) was a maverick of American shipbuilding, a naval architect, and the designer of steamships, war vessels and the record-setting Rainbow and Sea Witch clipper ships. In 1849, Sea Witch sailed from Hong Kong to New York in 74 days 14 hours, a record which has not yet been broken by a single-hull sailing vessel. Griffiths authored several books, while his innovations and patents left a lasting impression on ship design and construction.

Despite his reputation as a “naval architect genius,” Griffiths died in poverty, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Queens, NY.

SeaWitch copy

In 2012, the lack of a headstone was discovered when Matthew Carmel wanted to give a rubbing of Griffiths’ headstone to his friend, Melbourne Smith, Chairman of the National Maritime Historical Society Advisory Committee, since he knew that Smith gives credit for much of his historic ship design skills from studying the works of Griffiths.  To their surprise, there was no headstone and further research
revealed there never was one.  The two men then began the efforts to give the marine and naval architect a proper headstone.  The new monument was designed by Melbourne Smith to honor this great American ship designer.

GRIFFITHS HEADSTONE Master-1Steadily gathering momentum since the 25 October 2013 New York Post article “Grave Injustice for NY Ship Hero,” the John Willis Griffiths Gravesite Project seeks to honor this “maverick of American ship-building at a time when it was one of (New York) City’s most important industries.” The New York Post article sums it up: “New York, and the nation, owe Griffiths an appropriate headstone.”

The National Maritime Historical Society is proud to celebrate the life of John Willis Griffiths and the public is invited to attend the ceremony to unveil his well-earned and long-awaited headstone.

Saturday, 23  July 2016 at 10:30 am

Linden Hill United Methodist Cemetery
323 Woodward Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385

Cars will be able to park near the gravesite.

A luncheon will be held after the ceremony at a restaurant which is approximately a 30 minute drive from the cemetery.

LUNCHEON to follow  – at 1:00 pm
Riverview Restaurant & Lounge
Center Blvd and 49th Street (2-01 50th Avenue)
Long Island City, NY 11101

Please RSVP by July 15 to or 914 737-7878 x 0. The cost for the luncheon is $45 per person; pre-paid with a cash bar. [Valet parking is available or a garage is located at the City Lights Apartment Building which is 100 feet away from the restaurant at 4-74 48th Avenue.]

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In the Pages of Sea History 154

Sea History 154 is in the mail and on the newsstands. Just look at what’s in this issue:

The 2016 National Maritime Awards Dinner
NMHS and the Naval Historical Foundation present the 2016 National Maritime Awards Dinner. Join us for our annual gala event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC!

ICMM in Hong Kong, the 2015 International Congress of Maritime Museums,
by Burchenal Green and Deirdre O’Regan
For the first time in its history, the ICMM held its biennial conference in Asia this past November, where attendees from institutions around the world, large and small, had a unique opportunity to network, debate, support, and encourage best practices for the maritime museum community.

Photo: Marion Kaplan

Photo: Marion Kaplan

So Old a Ship: Twilight of the Arab Dhow, by Marion Kaplan
In 1974, photojournalist Marion Kaplan embarked on an expedition to document the last generation of Arab dhows, sailing with the monsoon along ancient trading routes. Here, she shares glimpses of that journey, and of the way of life of the dhow captains and crews.
Find this article in Featured Articles from Sea History

Racing the Goldplaters—the Tradition Continues, by John C. North II
Summer visitors to Maryland’s Eastern Shore are treated to a spectacle of athleticism, tradition, history, and good fun at the annual Chesapeake Bay log canoe races. There is a history to the evolution of these remarkable vessels that have sailed and raced for more than 100 years.

Courtesy Cal Maritime Academy

Courtesy Cal Maritime Academy

We Know Ocean! Improving Ocean Literacy at Cal Maritime,
by Colin Dewey, Alexander Parker, Steven Runyon
Recognizing the critical link between the health of the oceans and the survival of our planet, California Maritime Academy is taking the lead in improving ocean literacy among our future professional master mariners and leaders shaping environmental and economic policy.

Historic Ships on a Lee Shore: Kit Jones is Waiting for You, by William C. Fleetwood Jr.

Kit Jones tumblr 1973

University of Mississippi

Leisure yacht of the rich and famous, wartime fireboat, and scientific research vessel—the 1939 Sparkman & Stephens designed Kit Jones has had a remarkable career. Currently, she sits abandoned in a Biloxi boatyard, awaiting her next reincarnation.

The Brothers Eldridge: Extraordinary Mariners in an Extraordinary Age,
by Vincent Miles
Nineteenth-century ship captains faced professional obsolescence with the transition from sail to steam, a new technology that required the skills of an engineer over the expertise of the sailing master. Three brothers from Cape Cod, however, prevailed, becoming elite ship masters of both.


This issue’s cover is  The Wait/Flying Cloud, by Marc Castelli.

Plus, you’ll find the regular features you look forward to in every issue:

Deck Log
NMHS: A Cause in Motion
Marine Art News
Sea History for Kids
Ship Notes, Seaport & Museum News
Maritime History on the Internet
Book Reviews

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Unveiling of USS Monitor Trail Marker and History Fair

On Friday, 29 May, the National  Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be unveiling a trail marker at the launch site of USS Monitor in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. NOAA is establishing a USS Monitor Trail marking the locations of historic importance to  the famous ironclad in New York,  Virginia, North Carolina.  The first marker is in place in Beaufort, North Carolina, at the North Carolina Maritime Museum, near Duke University’s Marine Lab; Duke  University’s research team discovered USS Monitor  in 1973.

The event’s organizers are: NOAA’s USS  Monitor National  Marine Sanctuary; the Greenpoint Monitor Museum; Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Oliver Tilden Camp No. 26; and Co. I, 83rd New York Vol. Inf. Sons of Veterans Reserve.

The unveiling will take place at 10:30 AM, followed by a history fair at the Brooklyn Expo Center, just two blocks away. For full details, see the website of the Greenpoint Monitor Museum.

Monitor, 2009 (NOAA)

Monitor, 2009 (NOAA)

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NMHS 2015 Annual Meeting: a Recap

The National Maritime Historical Society’s 2015 annual meeting was held this past weekend in Annapolis, Maryland, hosted by the US Naval Academy Museum and its senior curator, James Cheevers. For those who couldn’t attend, we’d like to share this brief recap.

On the steps of Bancroft Hall, USNA

On the steps of Bancroft Hall, USNA

The weekend was launched with meeting of the board of trustees, followed by a dinner with the trustees and NMHS staff. Highlight of the evening was the welcome extended to new trustee-elect ADM Robert J. Papp Jr., USCG (ret.). ADM Papp was the 24th commandant of the United States Coast Guard, retiring in May 2014, and

Print of Effie M. Morrissey Entering Franz Joseph Fjord, by Thomas Wells

Print of Effie M. Morrissey Entering Franz Joseph Fjord, by Thomas Wells

was appointed the US special representative for the Arctic in July of that year. A longtime NMHS member, ADM Papp has been recognized with the NMHS Distinguished Service Award as well as the NMHS Bravo Zulu Award. As part of his welcome, ADM Papp was presented with a lovely Thomas Wells print of the Effie M. Morrissey (now the Ernestina-Morrissey, the flagship of Massachusetts).

Saturday began with breakfast in the US Naval Academy Museum followed by the business meeting and maritime heritage reports at the officers’ club. Lunch was served at the officers’ club when the meeting was done. Sea History editor Deirdre O’Regan presented the Rodney Houghton award for the best article in Sea History to Kathleen Ciolfi and Geoff Carton for their article “EXPLOSIVES, See Note C: the Unusual End of SS Robert Louis Stevenson” (SH 149). Ms. Ciolfi and Mr. Carton talked about their work for the Army on documenting munitions that have been dumped on the sea floor, and how the research into this task revealed all kinds of stories, and this was one of them. They also mentioned in their acceptance remarks that, after the article was published in Sea History, they were contacted by a gentleman who served in the Navy and was part of the crews that participated in the operations. He was able to give them firsthand details about this story, rounding out the history they were able to find in Navy records.inside Bancroft

After lunch, Jim Cheevers gave what one guest called “a really personal and enthusiastic tour” of the John Paul Jones crypt, the US Naval Academy campus, and Bancroft Hall, followed by a fascinating tour of the museum itself, with countless stories about individual pieces, such as how artifacts came to the museum’s collection. We could not have asked for a better guide. Jim Cheevers was recently recognized for fifty years of government service—47 of them with the Naval Academy—and a first-floor gallery was named for him!

Trustee and Vice Chairman Rick Lopes at the helm.

Trustee and Vice Chairman Rick Lopes at the helm.

The weekend was capped off with a lovely daysail on Sunday aboard the Scarano-built schooner Woodwind, with owner/captain Capt Ken Kaye. The Kayes’ daugher, Jen, operates Woodwind’s sister schooner, Woodwind II. Jen was introduced to the sea as a SEAmester student on the Spirit of Massachusetts in 1990, with Capt. Bobby Hall and Southampton College professor Doug Hardy. She came home and persuaded her parents to make a change of career and the rest, as they say, is history.

It was a wonderful and educational weekend. The weather smiled down upon us the whole time, and we hope that everyone in attendance had as good and rewarding a time as we did. Thank you to all who made this annual meeting possible, and for continuing to support NMHS.

NMHS President Burchenal Green

NMHS President Burchenal Green



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NY Oyster Barge to Return to the East River After Nearly 100 Years

In 2004, we ran an article in the Sea History feature Historic Ships on a Lee Shore about the last remaining New York oyster barge, moored since 1921 on the Quinnipiac River in Fair Haven, Connecticut (SH 107, p. 13). We were heartened to learn this April that Miles and Alex Pincus, the brothers who formed the Maritime Foundation of Delaware and New York City and brought the wooden fishing schooner Sherman Zwicker to Manhattan’s Pier 25 to house an onboard maritime museum and oyster bar, had acquired the oyster barge. Their plan is to dismantle it and reconstruct it on the East River.

You can read more about the project from the New York Times,.

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Maritime Museum of San Diego Announces Swift Boat Tours

The Maritime Museum of San Diego recently unveiled the newest member of its collection, PCF 816, a Vietnam-era swift boat, after two years of painstaking restoration. This Memorial Day weekend will mark the inauguration of tours offered aboard the boat, complete with narration describing the vessel’s role in the US, Malta, and Vietnam, as well as the role of swift boat sailors.

Formally called Patrol Craft Fast (PCF), the United States Navy’s PCFs were first put into service in 1965 when American sailors used them to patrol the coastline of South Vietnam to prevent sea infiltration of soldiers and munitions from North Vietnam. Such counterinsurgency missions had to be executed quickly, and hence, the crafts were nicknamed “Swift Boats” for their speed and agility in moving in and out and harm’s way. In preparation for war, PCF training exercises were conducted on San Diego Bay at the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.

The specific 50-foot Swift Boat acquired by the Maritime Museum was originally donated by the United States Navy to Malta’s Maritime Squadron in 1971. It continued in service to that country until being retired in 2010. The following year, Malta’s minister of defense, Vanessa Frazier, conveyed her deep acknowledgement of America’s veterans with the gesture to return the boat to the Swift Boat Sailors Association (SBSA). The SBSA then sought the help of the Maritime Museum, renowned for its reputation for ship preservation.

“This acquisition is a special opportunity to educate Maritime Museum visitors about the significant history of Swift Boats and the brave Vietnam veterans associated with them,” said Ray Ashley, CEO of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. “We honor their service, courage and commitment and are proud to support this initial restoration that will provide an active, hands-on experience in San Diego for many years to come.”

For more information, visit the museum’s website,

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23rd Annual WoodenBoat Show in Mystic, CT

WoodenBoat Show banner

One sure sign of the summer is the annual WoodenBoat Show, held this year 27–29 June in Mystic, CT. Produced and presented by WoodenBoat magazine and hosted by Mystic Seaport, this year’s event promises:

The tents will be filled with marine accessories, the docks will be lined with beautiful boats, and Mystic Seaport will be flooded with wooden boat enthusiasts. This is an event you won’t want to miss!

Features of the event will be a full schedule of skills demonstrations from the most traditional to the very modern, reader-built boats in the “I Built it Myself” exhibit, and the fine craft of Tennessee’s Mahogany Heartthrobs.

Advanced tickets can be ordered online or by calling 800 273-SHIP (7447).

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