Naval History News

It was a grim and uninviting locale, far astray from the shipping lanes, with no hope of rescue. What followed then for Shackleton and five others was a death-defying open-boat voyage across 720 nautical miles to seek help at the whaling camps of South Georgia, an island in the southern Atlantic Ocean. In a heroic feat worthy of Captain Bligh and company set adrift by the mutineers of the Bounty, they made it—only to be stuck offshore for days, trapped in the teeth of hurricane winds.

When they finally did get to shore, it was the south end of the island—the wrong end. The whaling stations all were on the northern coastline. So Shackleton and two others trekked off across bleak and treacherous mountains—an accomplishment not replicated until 1955—to arrive at last at the Stromness whaling station on 20 May 1916.

Fast-forward to July 2017: A massive iceberg, known as A-68, split apart, exposing the edge of the Larsen C ice shelf—and thanks to the sextant readings of the Endurance’s navigator, Frank Worsley, the forthcoming international expedition to this newly explorable realm has the key to the shipwreck’s location. “We have the documents that he wrote down with that final position,” said Julian Dowdeswell, director of Cambridge University’s Scott Polar Research Insti­tute, in a recent interview with Live Science. “That’s why we’re relatively confident as to where the vessel actually went down.”

The Endurance is believed to lie 9,800 feet deep beneath sea ice. The AUVs of the South African polar research ship Agulhas II, which will set forth on the quest in January–February 2019, can handle those conditions. “If we can get within even 100 kilometers [62 miles] of the site, we can launch the AUV, which can go under the ice,” Dowdeswell said. “It is this technology that gives us the very best chance.”

The best chance, in fact, since 1915, the last time any pair of human eyes looked upon the Endurance . “What we hope to do is to be able to photograph and map [the wreck] in as much detail as possible,” said Dowdeswell. “The intention is that we will utilize that to get a formal designation of the wreck site as an Antarctic monument, so it will be preserved in perpetuity.”

 

Conservation Project Anchored in History

 

The Curator Branch of the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) recently completed the conservation treatment of two anchors and two 16-inch projectiles that flank the entrance to the National Museum of the United States Navy on the historic Washington Navy Yard.

A conservation treatment project in­volves several stages, including the initial scientific assessment and documentation, the conservation treatment, and the final scientific analysis and documentation.

“There are several factors that go into the process of conserving these artifacts,” explained Paul Mardikian, co-owner of Terra Mare Conservation, the group contracted to conserve the artifacts. “Some factors include determining the type of coating to put on the anchors as well as its thickness. It looks like a simple job, but when you go in depth with the process, it is very technical.”

Determining the proper treatment plan for each artifact is important because certain chemicals can be too harsh or unsuitable for the type of material and may cause long-term damage.

“These objects have crossed several waters and have seen many wars,” said Claudia Chemello, co-owner of Terra Mare Conservation. “I love taking a closer look at the objects and revealing their stories. What these artifacts have gone through is reflected in their condition.”

One of the anchors is from the sloop-of-war steamer Hartford, the first U.S. Navy ship named for Hartford, Connecticut. She served as the flagship for Rear Admiral David G. Farragut during the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. The ship survived until 1956, when she sank awaiting restoration at Norfolk.

The other anchor is from the USS Anzio (CVE-57). An escort carrier during World War II, she served in the Pacific and participated in Operation Magic Carpet, returning U.S. soldiers to the United States at the end of the war. The ship was decommissioned in 1946 and eventually sold for scrap.

The 16-inch training projectiles were designed in 1939 and used on Iowa-class battleships. The projectiles weigh from 1,900 to 2,700 pounds and could be fired at a maximum speed of 2,690 feet per second with a range of up to 24 miles.

“It is our job to maintain these artifacts as best we can in perpetuity,” said Jeffery Bowdoin, head of NHHC’s Curator Branch. “The ultimate goal is to preserve them and their history so the public can enjoy them, learn from them, and appreciate the Navy’s history and heritage forever.”

For more information about the Naval History and Heritage Command, visit www.history.navy.mil/ .

—Mass Communication Specialist Third Class Lindsay A. Preston, NHHC

 

‘Valor’ Creators Tour the Monsoor

 

Naval History’s “Acts of Valor” feature has been informing readers about the Medal of Honor exploits of Sea Service heroes since it debuted in the April 2017 issue. Now it will be doing the same on board a pair of namesake Navy ships. On 4 May, “Valor” writer Kevin Knodell and artist Kelly Swann, along with Naval History Editor-in-Chief Richard Latture, visited the Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) at the General Dynamics Bath (Maine) Iron Works. After touring the cutting-edge ship, they presented her crew with a display copy of the December 2017 “Acts of Valor” profiling Master at Arms Second Class Michael Monsoor, who gave his life to protect his comrades in war-torn Ramadi, Iraq. The graphic feature will help inform crew members and visitors about the ship’s heritage.

Earlier in the day, Knodell, Swann, and Latture visited with the crew of the Arleigh Burke–class guided-missile destroyer Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) and presented them with a display copy of the April 2018 “Acts of Valor” describing Lieutenant (junior grade) Hudner’s attempts to save the life of fellow pilot Ensign Jesse Brown. The destroyer’s commissioning ceremony will take place in Boston in December 2018. For information about the ship or to sign up for an invitation to the ceremony, visit www.usshudnerddg116.org . The Michael Monsoor is scheduled to be commissioned in January 2019.

 

 
 

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