NMHS 2016 Annual Meeting – Newport, RI

National Maritime Historical Society
53rd Annual Meeting
23–24 May, 2016
Officers Club of the United States Naval War College
Newport, Rhode Island

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US at the City by the Sea for our 53rd Annual Meeting at the Officers Club of the United States Naval War College in Newport. We were joined by leaders from the local maritime heritage community, who will gave reports highlighting maritime history and activity in and around Newport.

NWC from air from web 2SM

 Naval War College


NMHS was delighted that America’s sailing ambassador Gary Jobson previewed his new film about Sable Island, a remote island that has experienced more than 350 shipwrecks in the last 500 years.
WATCH: Trailer of the movie

The Magic and Mystery of Sable Island
A new documentary film produced by Gary Jobson
Hosted by Gary Jobson

About 200 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, sits a remote island of sand, and grass. This crescent-shaped island is home to a herd of 500 wild horses, many thousands of gray seals, and some birds and insects that are indigenous only to Sable Island. In August 2015, Gary Jobson organized a cruise to Sable to produce a documentary. While the scenery is beautiful, sadly, it is also the site of 350 shipwrecks over the past 500 years. The low sand dunes make the island difficult to see. Fog surrounds the island on more days than not. The yacht, with a crew of six, was the only sailing vessel given permission to land on Sable Island in 2015. The crews included two archaeologists, three sailors,, and a cameraman and were very lucky to visit the island on three unusually clear days.

It is a miracle that Sable—the name means “sand” in French— exists. By all accounts, the 26-mile-long island was formed during the last ice age. It is barely one mile wide. To the north, the Labrador Current sweeps past, and not far to the south, the Gulf Stream flows in the opposite direction. The combination of currents, waves and storms has a huge impact on the position, and shape of Sable Island. A few Canadian researchers, meteorologists, and park rangers rotate living on the island.

During Jobson’s visit, the team interviewed the experts on the island about its history. The archaeologists found many fascinating artifacts. The horses provided endless fascination with their migratory patterns each day. There were no human footprints anywhere to be seen. It became apparent that the crew was seeing what the east coast of North America must have been like before any development took place. It felt as remote as their expeditions to the Polar Regions. The seals looked like they enjoyed life, but just outside the surf line dozens of sharks waited for an opportunity to attack. Clearly, swimming was out of the question.

This documentary will take you to a very remote and seldom visited place.
Runtime:  43 minutes

As the Steamship Historical Society of America and Tall Ships America are headquartered nearby, we were honored to have their leadership join us and discuss their respective organizations and current activities. Founded in 1935, the Steamship Historical Society of America has grown to become the world’s leading organization on the history of engine-powered vessels, with close to 3,000 domestic and international members in more than fifteen countries. SSHSA executive director Matthew Schulte spoke on behalf of that organization. Tall Ships America’s executive director (and NMHS advisor) Bert Rogers spoke on the challenges facing operational sailing ships in the 21st century and what Tall Ships America is doing to support them, promoting sail training and traditional sail through its annual Tall Ships Challenge series, and supporting the continuing professional education and safety standards for those manning today’s tall ships. Bert began his seafaring career in 1978 aboard the brigantine Romance under Captain Arthur Kimberly, winner of the 2008 NMHS Karl Kortum American Ship Trust Award.

We also heard from Perry Lewis , Vice Chairman of Rhode Island’s new tall ship, Oliver Hazard Perry.

After a luncheon buffet at the Officers Club, acclaimed author and naval historian Dr. John B. Hattendorf gave a presentation on Navies in Narragansett Bay to 1865, and then lead us on a tour of the Naval War College Museum, of which he is director. Professor Hattendorf is a longtime NMHS member and former president of the North American Society for Oceanic History. The E. J. King professor of maritime history at the Naval War College since 1984, he has written and edited more than forty books on American and British maritime history and naval warfare, and the US Naval Institute Proceedings has described him as “one of the most widely known and well-respected naval historians in the world.”

Luce Hall, Building 1, Luce Avenue, Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island. Photograph taken 14 July 2012.

Luce Hall, Building 1, Luce Avenue, Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island. Photograph taken 14 July 2012.

The Naval War College Museum is one of the US Navy’s nine official museums nationwide. It is operated by the Naval History and Heritage Command in cooperation with the Naval War College. Located in what was built in 1819 as the poor house of Newport County, the facility became the Naval War College’s first building in 1884. It was here that Alfred Thayer Mahan gave his lectures that led to his famous book, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History (1890). The current special exhibits are Operation Deep Freeze! and The Face of Admiral Lord Nelson.

We chartered Adirondack II for a sail around Newport Harbor. The schooner was built at Scarano Boatbuilding in Albany, where NMHS trustee Rick Scarano and his brother John, have built many beautiful passenger vessels, many of them sailing vessels. Adirondack II, built in 1999, is an elegant 80-foot, turn-of-the-century-style pilot schooner.

For for the Society to flourish and grow, it is important that its leaders and members meet and share ideas to chart the Society’s course into the future. This has kept us vital for more than half a century and is never more important than right now.



1:00 pm Screening of the new documentary film The Magic and Mystery of Sable Island,, produced by Gary Jobson Hosted by Gary Jobson
at the
Seamen’s Church Institute
18 Market Square
Newport, RI


8:30 am Registration
Continental Breakfast
Officers Club of US Naval War College
9:30 am    Business Meeting Begins  
11:15 am Coffee Break  
11:30 am  Maritime Heritage Presentations Rhode Island’s New Tall Ship, Oliver Hazard Perry: Perry Lewis, Vice Chairman, OHPRI
    Update on the Work of the IYRS: Terry Nathan, President of the International Yacht Restoration School
    Current Activities of the Steamship Historical Society of America: Matthew Schulte, Executive Director
    Challenges Facing Operational Sailing Ships in the 21st Century: Bert Rogers, Executive Director, Tall Ships America
12:45 pm   Cash Bar and Buffet Luncheon Officers Club
1:45 pm     


Luncheon Speaker “Navies in Narragansett Bay to 1865”: Dr. John B. Hattendorf, Author and Naval Historian, Director of  the Naval War College Museum
2:30 pm   Tour of Naval War College Museum Led by Dr. John B. Hattendorf, Author and Naval Historian, Director of  the Naval War College Museum


11:00 am NMHS Sail Around Newport Harbor on  Adirondack II Enjoy a two-hour sail on this elegant 80-foot, turn-of-the-century style pilot schooner. Drinks will be hosted by Rick Scarano. The cost for the sail is $55 per person; space is limited and early reservations are recommended.


Newport Harbor Hotel

Newport Harbor Hotel