“Ice Pilots”

February 26, 2018

This article explains the above job – navigating a US Coast Guard cutter through the ice floes.

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French Naval Policy, 1852-1914

January 30, 2018

While this site has centered itself on primarily American and British topics, every once in awhile, another area catches my attention. In this case, there is a very informative article on the development of the French navy and its failure to counter the British navy’s policies and structure. This is a subject overlooked in English-language literature, so this introduction proves a boon. I am referring to “From a Prestige Fleet to the Jeune Ecole,” in the Naval War College Review, 71(#1 Winter 2018): 93-118.

Birth of the British Navy

January 11, 2018

The only monarch labeled “the Great”, Alfred was instrumental in having constructed some of the largest oared vessels of his day. Please read the entry for the year 897 in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. John Asser’s contemporary biography of Alfred bears testimony to Alfred’s use of ships in his various battles with the Danes.

“Christmas at Sea” by Robert Louis Stevenson

December 22, 2017

“The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seamen scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor’wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.”

The rest is here. To see his tangential connection with the sea, please read this.

How Samuel Pepys Spent Christmas

December 19, 2017

He can be called by many names and guises: one of the great diarists whose eyewitness accounts of the Great Plague and the London Fire of 1666 are still gripping today; the father of the modern British navy; avid collector of books and manuscripts, among his other accomplishments. Dip into his diary to see how he celebrated/observed Christmas

How Admiral Nelson Really Looked

December 13, 2017

Most depictions of Admiral Nelson reflect an idealistic image of Great Britain’s leading sailor; the toll that his wounds took on him are almost always glossed over. A newly restored portrait shows what the rigors of war wreaked upon his visage; it is a sobering realization.

Nautical Charts

December 6, 2017

Did you ever wonder what resources mariners could consult in the days of sail? The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection is a boon to researchers; it carries over 81,000 maps, charts, atlases many of which are available online. For example, limit yourself to the “nautical charts” category, and there are more than 1,000 examples available. But you can further limit your results to the granular level by selecting “where” (geographical location), “who”(cartographer), or “when” (by year). By this method you can find 38 charts or maps of the Caribbean dating from 1650 to 1846. So the next time Hornblower, or Kydd, or Aubrey sail to a certain part of the world, you can see what contemporary sources of the time revealed about it.

Search Thousands of Open Access Articles and Book Chapters on Matters Nautical

November 30, 2017

JSTOR is an aggregator of almost 2000 scholarly titles, containing back runs of major journals in fifty separate disciplines; it recently added thousands of books to its coverage as well. Marketed to libraries as a way to save space by having huge back runs of bound volumes replaced by online, digital equivalents, it is an expensive tool,  but one that has great value.

But JSTOR has an open content site that really needs to be explored by those interested in maritime studies. For example, entering the term “frigates” pulls up a vast array of literature, including a 1756 piece on sea currents; entering “James Cook” allows you to read his articles published in the Philosophical Transactions, works about him, and works that mention him in passing. Any term you can think of will probably yield some results; i.e., “whaling ships”, “navies”, “seas” all produce hits.

While not the most robust of search interfaces (after all, this is free), you can sort the results by relevance, oldest, or newest. In addition, you can limit your results to content type, publication date, or subject.

This tool is well worth an investigation; hundreds of thousands of articles, some dating back to the 17th century, await your perusal.

Naval Takeaways from 2018 Defense Budget

November 9, 2017

The combined House and Senate Armed Services Committees have vetted the administration’s defense budget request. Naval highlights include:

“Authorizes multiyear contract authority and advance procurement for up to 13 Virginia-class submarines.

 Authorizes multiyear contract authority and advance procurement for up to 15 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to procure the first polar-class heavy icebreaker and includes a review of Navy capabilities in the Arctic region.

Codifies at least a 355-ship Navy with the optimal mix of ships as U.S. policy.

Authorizes limited aspects of the Department’s proposal to recapitalize the Ready Reserve Force.

Expands the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund to include multiyear procurement of critical components.

Directs reports of maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting; defense of combat logistics and strategic mobility forces; the acquisition strategy to recapitalize undersea fixed surveillance systems; Los Angeles-class submarine service life extensions; and mine warfare readiness.” (Committees highlights report, 5) 

Page 4 presents a breakdown of what authorizations are included for shipbuilding, among them “… $30 million for preliminary design of a smaller aircraft carrier….”

Defense News has an analysis of this approval.

 

 

Free Audiobooks of Naval Fiction

October 18, 2017

More than one hundred audiobooks of naval and maritime fiction are available for your listening pleasure. While these books are in the public domain, there are many classic good reads that pre-date 1923. For example, here is the fourteen-hour audiobook entitled Thrilling Narratives of Mutiny, Murder and Piracy; this and other reads, such as some of the works of Frederick Marryat,  can be downloaded to your computer or a portable device. Enjoy the rousing adventures!